Time to stop praising employees who report for work even when sick, say doctors

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2020 06:39 PM

Time to stop praising employees who report for work even when sick, say doctors 1
Government employees wear makeshift face shield made of PVC film at the Borongan City Hall, Eastern Samar on March 19, 2020. Alren Beronio, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — To avoid the spread of diseases, doctors on Tuesday advised the public to make use of their sick leaves and do away with “presenteeism” or insisting to report for work despite being ill.

“May ubo ka at may sipon pumapasok ka pa rin. Yung pinupuri natin yung mga taong ganun. Kailangan ibahin na natin 'yan. We should do away with presenteeism,” said Dr. Antonio Dans of the National Academy of Science and Technology during a virtual briefing with media.

(You still go to work even if you have cough and colds. We usually praise people who are like that. But we should change that. We should do away with presenteeism.)

“It’s okay to say you have a cold. Stay home, protect your co-workers. This is a way to prevent future pandemic,” he added.

Dans is among the group of doctors who warned the private sector against relying on rapid antibody test kits for screening of workers. The other organizations are the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID), the Philippine College of Occupational Medicine (PCOM), the Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians (PSPHP), the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine (PSGIM), and the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP).

Dr. Rogelio Dazo of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) said the COVID-19 pandemic is also an “eye-opener.”

“Pagka may sakit ka stay at home na lang. Maintindihan yan ng management,” he said. “Pag may ubo magsuot ka ng mask.”

(If you are sick, just stay at home. Management would understand. If you have cough you should wear a mask.)

Dr. Aileen Espina, technical committee representative of the Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians (PSPHP), however acknowledged that going on paid sick leave is not an option for everyone.

“What about the no work, no pay policy?” she said, referring to workers who do not have sick leave credits.

Dazo said those without paid leave can apply for benefits through the Social Security System although the process may take time.

“It’s easy to say don’t practice presenteeism if you have adequate income to do that,” Dans agreed.

Espina said it might be time for stakeholders to “revisit our workplace condition and environment” to make it both pro-worker and pro-employer.