Record numbers of people are out of work due to illness

Originally published at: Record numbers of people are out of work due to illness | Boing Boing


I have the unpleasant suspicion that, Because Reasons, this will be one area where increasing scarcity and delicacy of necessary inputs will not lead those inputs to command higher prices and receive more careful handling. You can hold your nose and do that when dealing with commodities; but (in a twist Marx would no doubt have loved, since his pessimistic thesis focused on labor’s commodification as the bad outcome) there seems to be a cultural distaste for labor sufficiently strong that it’s an uphill battle to get it treated as well as other commodities; much less better.


I get that Covid is still causing a lot of this, and the Covidiots are still a problem. But among people I work and socialize with, there’s a greater consciousness of “don’t go to work if you aren’t feeling well, regardless of what it is.” So, people who might have gone to work with the sniffles, or with a stomach ache, or some other ailment that made them feel bad but didn’t prevent them from getting to work, are staying home now. There’s a better understanding that coming to work sick with anything is just bad.


This. Pre-Covid, showing up at work coughing and sneezing would only get you dirty looks. Now people will straight up tell you to GTFO. As they should.


And even though a lot of companies are trying to claw it back, people have gotten a lot more comfortable with WFH and the technology is now mature enough to support it. A lot of parents likewise are feeling more at liberty to call in when their kid is ill. My parents just went to work and wished me luck.


If anything good has come out of Covid, it’s this.


It certainly seems to have cut down enthusiasm for ‘presenteeism’, at least in office type environments(I’ve personally benefitted, so can’t complain about my own position); I’ve just been more depressed about the…less inspiring…situation in cases where it both matters more and typically involves workers who already get the shit end of several sticks.

The whole congressional battle over the idea that rail employees might get 7 whole paid sick days(and the fact that it was lost), say, is pretty horrifying; or the ongoing ‘your awful retail/service job makes you an essential worker’ stuff.

I certainly don’t mind that HQ is now more accepting of the fact that I can do computer stuff from home if need be; and doesn’t want me coughing on colleagues or them on me; but I’m also doing a fairly lightweight(in physical terms at least) job that might put me on the roster of carpal tunnel casualties before I retire if I neglect ergonomics. That’s not a reason to treat me worse; but it is a reason why I’d want my treatment to be the absolute baseline for, not at all hypothetically, people who prepare food for others, care for the sick or immunocompromised, do hard work that has a real chance of wearing their bodies down over the course of their career, etc.


100%. This is why the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates - because there is an intolerable labor shortage which has been allowing people to ask for more wages. They have all but said they must force a recession (code for ‘immiserate hundreds of thousands of people’) to stop this upward pressure on wages for poor people.

Because increased wages contribute to inflation, which in turn decreases the real value of all that debt people are holding. The dollar value of a mortgage or other debt does not go up with inflation, but the real value of each dollar goes down. If your wages keep up with inflation, then the real value of your debt decreases. In practice that means the banks make less money.

Banks making less money is utterly intolerable to institutions like the Federal Reserve, so misery must be inflicted. Put more starkly, they will destroy as many lives as possible to preserve shareholder profits.

You know another great way to reduce inflation? Increase taxes, especially on the wealthy. Tax cuts are very inflationary, tax increases have the opposite effect. But that’s not on the table. We will kill and destroy as many people as necessary to protect the profits of the banks.

Fuck them all.


Yeah well, crappy sick leave policies are still here. When so-called sick and PTO are combined into paltry numbers nobody’s going anywhere.


Let’s also give a big, fat, Thank You, to upper management insisting on employees coming back to the office. I went 2 years without a cold. Once back in the office, I got a cold and then Covid. Working remote again and not giving up that agreement.


My work has a very generous “unlimited sicktime” policy that pre-COVID was rarely used that much. We also were fairly flexible on remote working so if you wanted to work but felt you couldn’t be around people, you did.

Post COVID, they are, bizarrely, drilling down on being in the office. I’ve heard all sorts of deep office gossip about beginning to literally enforce where you are (RFID in badges). And I don’t mean comments from Crazy Joe in the lunch room - comments from the people who actually would have to do this…and don’t want to.

I have staff in other countries that are given a week off if they have a sick day. And, amazingly, no issues. The US is crazy.


Even when they don’t; like right now.


The problem is, if you work somewhere like Walmart, nothing has changed. If you get sick and stay home, you still don’t get paid. So people go to work sick, just like they always have. Yes, a lot more people with desk jobs now are able to work from home more often, but a ton of people in the workforce still don’t have that option. If you work on an assembly line or in retail, working from home just isn’t an option, and we still don’t have guaranteed paid sick leave in this country. Even schools and universities have largely gone back to their pre-COVID absences policies. I’m in law school, and we’re back to mandatory in person class attendance, with recordings of classes entirely at the professor’s discretion. This means, in my case, I can miss up to 2 class sessions per class without getting dropped, but if I do miss, there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to watch or listen to a recording of the class. I know for a fact I’ve had classmates attend class while sick. I just hope it wasn’t with COVID. And nobody is masking anymore. So while I’m sure people staying home more often when they’re sick explains some of the increase in people missing work due to illness, I doubt very seriously if it explains all of it. We, as a society, collectively just decided to pretend everything is back to normal.





capitalism 2

ETA this photoset via someone I follow on tumblr


My BF has been off work for two weeks now. He had a sinus infection (he went to the doctor; I assume they tested him for the plague) last week, and now he has bronchitis.

This is my 2nd week of bronchitis. Tho I’m still a bit cough-y, it’s tailing off.

He works at a nearby university, so he’s often around lotsa people. :frowning:


Hope you both feel better soon!


Thank you muchly! :smiley:


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