A good friend of mine works with sick children. She very frequently has to have time off work due to falling ill from viruses. We are talking maybe 1 week in 8 off work. All her friends and family have a much more 'steady' level of health so the only possible cause is that she is picking up these viruses from the poorly children. A colleague in her workplace is in a similar situation.

This is causing problems. Not only is her health and mood suffering but I'm worried that questions of capability will be asked at work. I'm thinking that her organisation has a duty of care to take steps to safeguard her from illness - but current steps clearly aren't enough..

From chats with her, it sounds like the HR team are unresponsive (possibly due to limited resources) and her line manager is less than HR savvy to put it lightly.

Does anyone out there have any experience of this kind of thing or advice I can pass on?


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  • You are just as likely to pick up bugs in the supermarket. One thing I have found beneficial when being around people who have colds and stuff is Dettol All in One disinfectant spray kills 99% of bugs including cold and flu viruses, just don't spray it in peoples faces! I know people who give it a quick spray between interviewing candidates

  • Hi Gary,

    I work in a Nursing Home, albeit in the office, it's still an environment where viruses etc can run riot. Maybe ask what the "infection control" training is like at work, and what measures are taken within the work place to minimise the risk of cross contamination/infection. We have hand sanitizers in various places throughout the building, including at the front door (although I have heard that these may not actually kill as many germs as we're lead to believe) and staff are actively encouraged to wash their hands frequently. We're also strict on things like staff changing gloves and aprons when performing different tasks, even down to the domestic team having specific cloth colours for specific tasks.

    It's easy for staff to become complacent in regard to infection control, especially if they're rushing around trying to do one hundred things at once :) .I'm not suggesting that your friend is becoming complacent but fellow team members may be. So this might be something to look at along with what equipment is provided for staff to use, such as disposable gloves/aprons, facilities and ease of access to handwashing facilities; washrooms etc.

    Hope I've helped a wee bit.


    • Hi Jacquie

      Thanks for sharing. There is a lot of hand sanitiser use although I'll take note of what you say about it may not be as effective as we're lead to believe - I'll look into that.

      Swapping changing key items of clothing makes sense. Although my friend is there in an assessment and councilling capacity so she doesn't do any of the tasks which would warrant clothing changes - but, as you've said, it could be that the people around her who should do that are not doing it effectively. I'll pass this on :)

  • Hi Gary!

    As a pharmacist I sympathise. As a manager I realte .. two hat syndrome! 

    We offer all our employees health checks (private or NHS) and flu vaccines free/significantly reduced cost. 

    We are always out looking for businesses to go and visit to offer the NHS services or private ones to - it may be worth her having a chat with a pharmacy to see if they are offering similar services. 

    HR love it for both reasons when we go out- it looks as if they are supporting employees, it doesnt cost them anything (if employee eligable for NHS service), and we usually send out and appointment schedule so employees can slot in at a time that suit them. 

    From a personal level, sleep, multivitamins, hand gels and hand washing are all things that have saved me. Unfortunately every year I fall sucker to the 'plague'. I know when its coming so I usually arrange to be somehwere where I can be fairly rubbishy feeling but still do my job (albeit slower). When I am really ill I do just take abscence. As has a good old gargle with TCP when I feel the bugs starting nip at me! 



    • TCP! wow, I never thought of that. TCP has probably been neatly boxed out of the way in my sub-concious after several stinging runs ins with the stuff following trips and falls as a kid :)

      I'll pass it on.

      So is it the case that you go out to the businesses and offer health and well being advice?

      • HI Gary 

        Yes we do :-) 

        https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check/ ; we offer this service along with flu and travel vaccines/advice

        We are nearly all accredited as 'healthy living' pharmcies which is a higher level of staff training... NHS choices would help you find nearest pharmacies- if they offer the health checks off site they would love you! Lisa 

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