Boss’s email goes viral: ‘Health first, work second’

A boss is receiving widespread praise after an email sent to employees encouraging those who are sick to stay at home “touched the hearts” of thousands of people online.

The email, shared by Melbourne journalist and lecturer Neil McMahon on X, sparked a positive response for its emphasis on health and safety in the workplace.

In the email, McMahon’s boss Sam Jacob, CEO of Collarts (Australian College of the Arts) reminds employees to prioritize their health by staying home if they are sick, as the prevalence of colds and flu in Melbourne increases .

The message contained a strong directive to safeguard the health of all staff, particularly those who are immunocompromised or have dependents.

“I want staff who are immunocompromised or vulnerable to infection, including those who need to stay healthy to access other types of treatment or care for dependents, to be able to come to work with a reasonable presumption of safety and well-being. This means that anyone who is sick must stay at home. Please,” the email read.

Speaking to news.com.au, Jacob said they didn’t expect the reaction to their email, but were pleasantly surprised by the impact it had.

“I feel like it should be normal. That should be what everyone says. I am a great believer in great leadership which is being a decent human being,” they said.

Jacob believes Australians have good sick leave arrangements, so workers should be encouraged to prioritize their health over the “soldier on duty” mentality.

“Everyone works with this sort of almost moral assumption that work is more important than anything else and you have to keep working, and we are sold chemicals that actually say ‘we’ll help you keep fighting,’” they said.

The tweet, captioned by McMahon on June 5, encouraged the “normalization” of this type of approach by workforce leaders. It quickly gained popularity, having been viewed more than a million times and amassing hundreds of positive comments.

“Amazing how in such a short time getting sick has gone from a sign of being a true soldier to an absolutely inappropriate move,” one person commented on the post.

«It seems quite sensible to me. Don’t make others sick, be a responsible human being, don’t assume you know the health status of your colleagues,” a second person wrote.

“Yes, quite normal even in my workplace. I love it. With the advent of working from home, there is no need to “brave it” to come into the office, and yes, I don’t want the gastroenteritis you caught at your children’s daycare, or the throat infection, even if you are being treated. antibiotics,” a third person wrote.

One person commented that while they support this idea, they have a “problem” with limited sick days.

“The only problem I have with this is that we are given limited illnesses.”

The Collarts chief executive said he understands that not everyone has sick leave, but where possible “if we deal with the illness now”, the recovery time is quicker and “no-one else is affected”.

This is the second time Jacob has sent an email to staff in the last six months encouraging them to put health first and work second. They said the email also opened the door for staff to have conversations about their personal health journey, which as a boss is “helpful” to know to support.

“The staff responded and said, ‘that’s so good to hear because I’m one of those people and I can come to work and feel safe’ rather than them being the ones to stay at home because they’re vulnerable,”’ they said.

“It’s an opportunity for the staff to have these conversations with me because otherwise I might not know.

“I think that’s how everyone says they want to have an inclusive workplace, that means giving real consideration to who comes in and is part of the workforce and who should stay at home.

It comes as a frustrated doctor has criticized Australian bosses requiring medical certificates for short absences, saying he has “not become a GP” to handle paperwork for employers.

Dr Max Mollenkopf, who owns a general practice in Newcastle, NSW, said he sees two or three patients every day who don’t need treatment but need a doctor’s note to work, taking time away from those who are ill.

“If someone is sick and wants to see me, I want them to be able to come any day of the week,” Dr. Mollenkopf told ABC.

“I didn’t sign up for medicine to do human resources policy on behalf of big companies.”

However, Carys Chan, a lecturer at Griffith University, said requiring a medical certificate is crucial for employers to prevent sick leave abuse by workers.

“If they’re going to pay their employees for their sick leave, some employers will feel entitled to know that you’re actually sick,” he told the ABC.

Under current workplace laws, employers can ask employees to provide evidence of “even just one day or less of absence from work.”

“An employee who fails to provide evidence to their employer when requested may not be entitled to pay for sick or carers leave,” the Fair Work Ombudsman says on its website.

As companies continue to balance productivity with health considerations, this Melbourne boss’s directive serves as an example of how leadership can positively impact workplace culture by prioritizing the well-being of all staff.

“Just don’t take your humanity away at the door, whatever your role in an organization, whether you are the boss or someone else, be a human being first and start your leadership by being a decent human being” Jacob said.

Read related topics:Melbourne

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