The coronavirus outbreak has people lamenting the capitalist system in the United States. People who work low-wage, hourly jobs warn that they are often required to show up to work even when they are extremely sick, that with no paid sick leave or vacation days, many simply cannot afford to take days off of work.
Not to mention, many employers will not allow their employees to call out sick, no matter how badly they need them. If you can't get someone to cover your shift, you're often forced to show up no matter the extenuating circumstances.
With that in mind, writer and editor Stephanie Cooke asked the people of Twitter to share the "most bonkers thing that happened to you or your work and your employer STILL expected you to continue your work day." So many had appalling stories, starting with Stephanie herself.
This is insane. My crazy story is that I was at work the day we were moving offices to a building across the street. As we were picking up all our stuff to go to the new office, our boss came in and laid off approximately half the company. People who'd been there since the beginning. It was a shock to the system.
When the people who were left finally got into the new building, there was no internet for several hours, so we couldn't work. The whole day was traumatic and everyone was freaking out pretty much the entire time. And at the end of the day, my boss asked me why I'd only written two articles. My jaw dropped.
Of course, this is not nearly as bad as most of the stories in this thread, including this next one...
This was — and I cannot stress this enough — a volunteer job. It wasn't even a paid position. We have just created such toxic work expectations that finding your own parent's dead body doesn't register with some employers as enough of an excuse to miss work. This is truly awful.
Customers! Were! Fainting! It would be funny if it wasn't so terrible. I can just picture the commercial in the next few years: "If you or a loved one contracted [insert terminal illness] from being forced to work all day in a fume-filled department store, call 1-800-OOPSIES. You might be entitled to some compensation."
Although it seems like this boss was ultimately understanding about the situation, it's unimaginable that they expected anyone to work that day. I understand that it's a breaking news site and that's literally what they do, but I couldn't fathom working through something like 9/11. And that's (partly) while I'll never be a breaking news journalist!
When personal health issues prevent someone from working and their employers don't understand, that somehow takes it to a whole new level of unacceptable for me. There are supposedly laws in place to forbid employers from firing people because they get sick, but you know and I know that it still happens all the time.
Our system is so broken. This is so sad. It's proof that access to healthcare should not be tied to your job, that the structures of capitalism we subscribe to have no allowance for unforeseeable health issues, that if you're sick or disabled or unable to work for some other reason, you are automatically deemed a burden.
That's simply not how the world should operate.
If you have a miscarriage, not only is it potentially mentally traumatizing, but it's also a medical issue that needs to be looked at by a doctor. They should never in a million years have had to stay on at their job because their boss couldn't find anyone to cover for them.
We've seen employers undeterred by personal and national tragedies and unfazed by serious medical issues when it comes to requesting their employees stay on at work. And now, we've come to the natural disaster portion of the thread. So many bosses don't think earthquakes, monsoons, or hurricanes are legitimate excuses for missing work, and that's quite troubling.
You want to say, "If it's dangerous to get to work, don't go in no matter what your boss says," but for many, that's unrealistic. People will risk their lives to keep their jobs because that is what they're forced to do.
What if you had a loved one who died in the earthquake? What if you lived on the other side of town and your house had been destroyed? What if you couldn't get to work because of closed roads and traffic? What if you were simply scared out of your wits at having survived such a terrifying event and couldn't get yourself together to sell pants or whatever the store sold? Just a few questions to think about...
Pretty sure they were being sarcastic when they said it was fun to drive to work through flying debris. Employers need to be reasonable when it comes to their employees missing work.
But the whole system needs a transformation. Companies need to be able to hire more people so there are options when one person can't make it for whatever reason. Affordable healthcare shouldn't be tied to your job. People need to be paid a living wage so they don't feel pressure to drive through dangerous situations or inhale toxic fumes to earn a few bucks.
And truly, this starts by voting for the people who are determined to make those changes.