On July 24, the sick leave entitlement for employees will increase to 10 days from the present five.
We have had our attention focused for 18 months on a pandemic that was recently described as having characteristics similar to the common cold – so new entitlement levels are welcomed and appropriate. That is, as long as they are used appropriately.
Sick children are one of the joys of parenthood, but I have noted that, even in this time of heightened awareness of all things viral, our kids have been afflicted by colds significantly. Indeed, it has been commented on that several viruses are exceptionally efficient right now in spreading - as a consequence of our lockdown and closed borders.
I do not do sickness very well. In fact, it is probably fair to say that if dealing with sick kids was like a tour of duty in the army, I would be labelled a deserter. I have had my fair share of "man flu" so I think I have a keen sense for when I am about to come down with something and, in fact, last week I self-diagnosed a strong headache as the beginning of my turn with a recent illness. Although it did not turn into anything, I assumed the inevitability of getting sick was similar to that of having to pay taxes and contemplated cornering the Whanganui market for Nurofen.
For the small business owner, illness and extended absences from work can be a major drain on productivity and performance. Looking after yourself is really important, particularly if your business relies on your skills and your presence to keep up momentum.
We all need to take time out to relax and recharge our batteries and fortify our immunity. Also, exercise is important in maintaining good health.
Other people have old favourites to keep one step ahead of illness.
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In my case, I could listen to my mother because, in the Bell family, a cup of tea is the cure for all ills. All ills. So embedded in Bell family folklore is the humble cup of tea that as a child I thought that Bell Tea was the family business. Given its success as a national brand, I'd have been quite happy with that result, but it did not take me long to figure out that the former Duncan Hospital on Durie Hill (where my dad worked) was not a tea-making factory.
There are some in my family who prescribe tea like a doctor prescribes medication. "Got a headache? Have a cup of tea", "Sore throat? Cup of tea will fix that", "Your son has headbutted you playing football? I'll put the kettle on".
But sometimes illness catches up on you and I am a real advocate for stopping work if you are ill – particularly in the instance where you are part of a team. I acquired a reputation in the past for sending people home when they were sick. This was due mainly to the fact that we worked in teams and if one of us went down it made things much tougher - but if any more than one became sick it presented a real risk to us in terms of getting the job done and meeting client expectations.
So, particularly in the time of Greek variants (at least those Greek alphabet quiz questions are now going to be easier), look after yourself, get fit, eat right and slow down before illness slams on the brakes for you. And avoid the medication that allows you to "soldier on" because in the end you do not want to take down your co-workers with friendly fire.