Q: One of my co-workers comes to work even when he's really sick and the rest of us have to listen to him blowing his nose all day long. He almost always gets one or two of us sick and then we lose work time.
The other day he coughed into his hands and then tried to hand me some papers. I refused to take them and told him he was a jerk for coming to work and getting the rest of us sick.
He told me he couldn't afford to take sick leave and I reminded him he was making the rest of us use up ours when we catch what he's got because he won't stay home when he needs to. If he was out of sick leave, I would have more sympathy, but he saves all his paid time off for vacations.
Isn't there some way to force this guy to stay home?
A: Most organizations let employees self-police their sick days. This generally works.
When it doesn't, employers have the right to require that employees to stay home when contagious.
Employers enforcing this policy normally get flak from the employee they send home and cheers from those who work around him.
Q: My boss issued two of us written reprimands for going online on cyber Monday. I sucked it up, but it because since I'm a hard worker and while I understood his mentioning it, I don't feel I deserved a reprimand.
I know for a fact that my co-worker spent hours shopping cyber Monday because he told me the different things he bought. I spent no more than 30 minutes when I got an email from one of the companies I purchase from letting me know there were special sales that ended at midnight East Coast time on November 28. Given the time zones, that meant I had to get right on it. Apparently the IT manager tattled on the two of us.
Is there any way to get this off my record by apologizing to my boss and reminding him it was only for 30 minutes? Our company does bonuses in the first quarter of every year and this reprimand may cost me my bonus.
A: If you plan to apologize, you have to mean it. You feel your boss administered too harsh a punishment -- however, he paid you for those 30 minutes while you shopped. What kept you from handling your personal business during lunch?
You're not alone, nor is your employer. According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of all online retail sales take place during the work day. As a result and according to a survey by Robert Half Technology, 60 percent of employers block access to popular shopping sites on their browsers or networks.
Employers who don't outright block shopping websites often ask their IT staff to monitor employee internet surfing and discipline repeat offenders.
If you haven't surfed before and you truly understand why your boss disciplined you, apologize. Before you do so, double-check your memory. If you explain you shopped for 30 minutes and the IT records reveal a longer time, you'll lose your chance of having your boss overlook this incident when he decides who deserves a bonus.
-- Lynne Curry is president of Alaska's The Growth Company Inc. in Anchorage. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.