health wellness workplace employees

Getting sick as an adult is terrible.

Not only is your mom not there to take care of you, “adult” responsibilities that didn’t exist when you were a child don’t just magically go away.

I was reminded of this recently when I fell ill for about a two-week period.

Fortunately, I have a spouse who could help around the house and take care of our four-legged children — but that still left the question of work.

Instantly, I began to stress and fret over having to tell my boss I was too sick to come in. This was the first time I was having to call in, and I hate calling in.

Luckily, when I did contact my boss, I was met with concern about my health and I was asked what my employer could do to help the situation.

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At first, I have to admit, I was shocked. Past employers seemed to care more about the day’s work than my getting better.

“Can you work from home?” they would ask. Or, “Are you sure you can’t just finish that one assignment?”

If someone is calling in sick, they shouldn’t be asked to work at all. Employers that ask employees to work when they aren’t at 100 percent are saying they are fine with less than quality work.

Because let’s face it, nobody performs at their best when they are throwing up or sneezing their brains out.

Colorado doesn’t require employers to provide sick pay or sick leave.

However, all U.S. public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees must abide by the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Eligible employees are provided up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the act, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons,” the federal agency’s website states. “It also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of employers and promote equal employment opportunity for men and women.”

FMLA applies:

  • for the birth and care of the newborn child
  • for placement of a child for adoption or foster care
  • to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
  • to take medical leave when employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition

Employees must have worked at least a year to be eligible for FMLA.

At the Business Journal’s recent 6035 Healthy Lifestyles event, it seemed every business leader receiving an award spoke about why having healthy employees is better for a company.

Prior to the event, Frank Peloso, the senior vice president and chief human resources officer for Vectrus, told the Business Journal his thoughts on promoting employee health.

“I believe that the long-term benefits of employee health ultimately have a positive impact on a company’s health-care costs, but there is so much benefit beyond lower costs,” he said in an email. “For example, there are many productivity studies that show a strong correlation between an employee’s health and his/her productivity. It simply makes good business sense to focus on your employees — not just their performance while in the office, but in all aspects of their lives.”

Last year’s 6035 Healthy Lifestyle healthy executive winner, Judy Kaltenbacher, the tax partner in charge at Stockman Kast Ryan + Co., told the Business Journal in August that businesses don’t think enough about what it means to foster a healthy work environment.

“I just know that personally the way I eat and exercise I feel so much better every single day because I have more energy and a clearer mind,” she said. “Also, our health care [insurance] costs went through the roof, and if we are able to help be a part of mitigating the trips to the doctor, then I think we have an obligation to do that.”

It seems pretty clear — healthy employees equal better, more productive workers.

The Business Journal and Kaiser Permanente are presenting an upcoming health care panel where employers can learn how the regulatory environment is affecting the prices of health insurance and how they can keep those costs down.

New health and wellness programs and their benefits for employees and employers will be discussed by the panelists, including Holly Kortum, Kaiser Permanente; Tatiana Bailey, UCCS Economic Forum; and Brian Erling, Penrose-St. Francis Health Systems

The event runs 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Garden of the Gods Club, 3320 Mesa Road. Go to csbj.com to register; tickets are $45.