Heather McLellan-Johnson is the medical director for HMS Medical, as well as managing director for three medical centres in Brisbane, including a new Federal Government funded COVID-19 respiratory clinic.

When new research  found that 96.5 percent of non-healthcare workers and 99.2 percent of healthcare workers continue to work despite minor flu symptoms, Heather knew that she needed to start a conversation around the issue of sick leave. “There is still some confusion around company sick leave policies in this new era, with employees going in to work unwell, not knowing how long they should stay away for and being concerned they don’t have enough leave to cover them,” she said.

Given the lifting of restrictions, McLellan-Johnson has been concerned about ensuring that business owners understand how to manage returning employees and sick leave. In an effort to ensure responsible working environments, she suggests that employers review their workplace procedures. One of the first things to think about is ensuring that your team understands clearly when they should, and should not come into work.

“They need to understand they have to stick to the company protocols – and do their civic duty. That might mean getting tested and cleared first. Currently mild to moderate symptoms are to be checked because C19 can look like any other virus to begin with.”

While personal responsibility is important, Heather also pointed out that sufficient sick leave is vital, even if it overruns the number of sick days allowed per annum. “As a society it is embedded that what we value is high performance – looking, acting, appearing perfect. The climb to high performance doesn’t allow for illness. We need to look at priorities in terms of selfcare, our children’s care, and caring for those in our community.”

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