It’s officially the worst season of the year… flu season. And with that comes an easy way to spread germs across the office. Did you know that sneezes and coughs can spread virus particles to distances of 12 feet? It doesn’t help that you can be contagious 1 to 4 days before you feel sick.

With the easy-to-spread nature of the virus, make sure your workplace is clear to your employees about when to stay home when sick. It’s a hard choice for employees: they may feel terrible, but they know that a sick day means getting behind in work and in some cases, not getting paid. Here’s some guidance to follow for when to stay home and when to work when you’re sick.

When to Stay Home

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s best to stay home: a temperature, a cough with mucus combined with a temperature, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chronic fatigue and achiness from flu-like symptoms.

Non-conducive environments: Remember how we mentioned germs can spread 12 feet? If your workplace is an open office plan environment, employees are more likely to spread germs than if they have individual offices. If your workplace requires making important decisions (like the medical field, a driver or a pilot, for example), that’s another time to stay at home.

Medications that alter your state-of-mind. Cold medications can make you drowsy and your brain foggy.

When to Work

For the flu, it may take anywhere from five days to two weeks to fully recover. According to the CDC, you should wait until at least 24 hours after a fever before you leave the house.

If you’re experiencing a dry cough and do not have a fever, you can most likely work. But be sure to cover your cough with the crook of your elbow (not your hand, which then could spread to other surfaces).

If you have a cold, it’s most likely fine to go into work, just be careful and wash your hands frequently.

Spread the Word, Not Germs

Send out an email to the company outlining expectations for sick employees. The CDC has plenty of printable resources that you can post in your workplace’s breakroom and bathroom. If employees are sick and they don’t want to miss work because of one of these reasons, talk one-on-one to make a plan of action. You both know that they will be more effective as employees when they are healthy and rested.

Share these tips around the workplace, and you’ll be doing the entire office a favor by keeping germs away.

Did you know? Fitspot can bring flu shots to your workplace. It’s one of our wellness services. Here’s what you need to know about flu shots.

Allison is the People Operations Manager for Fitspot wellness HQ. She loves being a part of building a unique culture that promotes wellness in the workplace!

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