Our Boss Brings Her Sick Kids To Work!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about boss who breaks sick policy:

I work at childcare center and we are really good with sick policy with kids who comes in with runny nose or cough etc. We tell the parents that you have take your kid home (we bring our kids to work also). The problem is that our BOSS brings her kids to work as we do, but she brings them in even when they are sick. I and other co-workers are really get tired of taking care her kids that she should take home and care for. It’s getting so bad that the staff and staff’s kids are getting sick from my boss’s kids, including my baby which I ended up staying home for six days and almost taking her to the hospital.In the past, when we all have told her that her son or daughter is sick, she gets very angry or snap at us or cries. This makes us very uncomfortable to talk to her now. I even said in the meeting one time if you guys see my two daughters are getting sick or looked sick, please let me know, and I will go home without saying boo to other co-workers. It seems that she still didn’t get the message from this. All the staff was getting fed up with this; so I decided to go THE BOSS above her. It looks like that I really wasted my time talk to her boss.What should I do?? Whenever her kids get sick, I should go home so that my kids won’t get sick. It should be other way around!!!!

Signed, Sick, Sick

Dear Sick, Sick:

Thank you for sharing your concerns. They not only affect you and your children but the other children as well! For some children a respiratory infection or similar ailment can just be a nuisance. For others it could cause long-term health problems or even be deadly. No child can completely avoid being around sick children, but when it can be avoided, as in this case, it should be! It is almost criminal to do otherwise!

1. You say you and others have tried talking to your boss about the matter but she reacts badly to that. If you think you can do so, consider next time simply saying, “Barb, your child is too sick to be here. I’m worried about him. He needs to be at home where he can be cared for better.” Or, “Barb, I don’t want the risk of being the one taking care of your child when she’s this sick. I just can’t do it. She needs to be at home.” If every worker said that, your boss would have no choice but to listen. One thing is for sure: Hinting won’t help. She won’t listen to hints. She will have to be told, “I can’t take care of your sick child, and I don’t think you should have her here because she could make other children sick as well.” Consider also putting the responsibility on her shoulders for protecting the other children. Tell her that you don’t think the sick child should be around others, so ask her where she thinks her child could be placed where her coughing and sneezing would be the least problem. There likely isn’t a place, but that would at least make her be responsible. Insist that everyone dealing with the sick child wash their hands often and take extra care when they go from the sick child to the others. You may already be doing this, but it certainly is needed.

2. You say you’ve talked to the next level boss as well, without any good results. Try writing a note like you wrote to us. In it say, “I think the parents of children who come here could hold us liable if their children get sick when Barb knowingly brings in her sick child.” Or, “We have a rule that says parents can’t bring sick children but why should they follow that if our own employees have sick children here?”

3. If every employee feels as you do, have each of them sign your memo to express their concerns as well. Surely someone higher than your boss will see that as a problem. If you are franchise, perhaps there’s even someone higher than that who will be able to deal with it. You will need to have a list of the number of times this has happened and what the result has been. Try making a list of incidents, including times her sick child has been there and the result for other children, times you have talked to her, times you have talked to others about it, etc. If the situation has happened only once or twice in several years, that might not be considered so problematic. But if it has been more often, it should be considered as a health issue. 4. Perhaps the main thing you could do–and I think you should–is to notify the city or state childcare licensing authority the next time your boss has her sick child in the child-care facility. Or notify them now and say that you have concerns. You may find that a threat of a review of the health and safety of the business will get the bosses attention! I’m not familiar with the policies of such licensing authorities, but surely they would want to know about that situation. You would need to find out what their policies are, but you could likely do that over the phone or by email. Likely your boss would know it was you who alerted the authorities, since you have complained before. That might be uncomfortable for you. But they don’t care if YOUR child or any other child gets sick, so I wouldn’t have much sympathy for how they feel about being reported. And, this does not sound like a boss who is a very conscientious child-care worker, so you may not want to be involved with her anyway! I realize it’s unpleasant for her to react angrily or with hurt feelings when you say something. But that may just be her way to get out of dealing with something that she knows is wrong. Look at it this way: Other parents can’t do it. You can’t do it.

You and others wouldn’t WANT to do it. So why should she be the only one? Finally, if it can’t be handled through these methods, perhaps you need to find a place where the safety and health of children is more important than it appears to be in this childcare facility. If you have experience and have been a good worker, you will be able to find employment. And you and your child will be better for it! If you feel at some point that you must take that action, make sure you write a letter to as high as you can in your own company, to say why you felt you had to leave. And let the licensing authorities know as well. At least it might help in the future. I hope these thoughts help you develop a plan of action.Best wishes in this matter. If you have the time and want to do so, let us know what develops. Thinking about your own, your children, and other children’s health is thinking about more than me, me, me. It is what we call thinking and acting WEGO

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.