Friday, March 12, 2010

Juggling the workload when your kids are sick

The preschool called before noon on a Tuesday, saying that my 3-year-old son had a fever and needed to be picked up. I was working from home that day -- I had a feeling something like this might happen, since he seemed off but OK and eager to go to school -- and so I made the 5-minute drive to get him, and settled him on the couch for a cuddle and a nap.

Thanks to N1H1, any temperature higher than 100 degrees is considered send-home worthy (the cutoff used to be 101 degrees), and kids who are sent home can't return until they've been symptom-free for 24 hours (which was always the case). My husband and I divvied up the rest of the week -- it took three days before our little guy was able to go back to preschool.

Over at The 36-Hour Day and at Boston.com's Child Caring blog, I'm asking my readers: How do you handle sick days?

We're really lucky. We have paid sick time to tap into (which we almost never use when we're the ones who are sick, of course) and enough seniority to have some flexibility at work. And we also have colleauges who have been there, done that, laundered the germ-infested T-shirt; it's not convenient for them when we have to juggle like this, but they understand because they've had to do it themselves.

Plenty of people have none of that -- no support, no flexibility, and no paid sick time. How are they supposed to cope when this happens to them?

In New York City, a bill was introduced late last summer that would give all private-sector workers in the city paid sick leave -- nine of them each year for those who work for companies with more than 10 employees (smaller companies would only have to give five). The late Senator Edward Kennedy reintroduced the Healthy Families Act, an years-old effort to institute similar measures at the Federal level. And, right here in the Bay State, the Massachusetts Paid Sick Days Act (S.B. 688 and H.B. 1815) is working its way through the legislative process; the bill would allow all employees in the state (private and public sector) to earn at least one hour of sick time for every 30 hours of work, up to 7 sick days per year.

It may be a while -- the Heathy Family Act went nowhere when it was first introduced during the George W. Bush administration, and has plenty of opposition from businesses now, but the Massachusetts bill was voted favorably out of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development at the end of February. While we wait, parents are going to have to amp up their work-life juggle, and probably end up going to the office when they're sick themselves.

1 comment:

jmberrygirl said...

Yet another thing to consider before this little one arrives in July. I imagine Mom--that'd be me--will be taking off and heading to pick her up, paid leave or not.