DEAR ABBY: I am very frustrated and need your help. Please do not use my name, city or state. It could get my husband fired.
"Al" works for one of the largest electrical utilities in the country. He's a lineman and puts his life on the line every day. Al works hard, gets along well with co-workers and supervisors, and responds promptly every time he's called for an emergency. He has worked many holidays and missed a number of family celebrations.
So what's the problem? Al is verbally chastised and receives low evaluation scores because he uses his sick days when he's ill. With young children, we have the usual colds, flus and viruses. He got the flu twice last winter, and I thought the company was going to fire him. The supervisor demanded that Al get a doctor's note for the days he missed.
Abby, the unspoken rule is DO NOT USE SICK DAYS. His company touts safety and rewards employees for safety records but demands that they work even when sick. How safe can it be for a man shaking with chills and fever to be perched on a utility pole, 40 feet in the air?
The company hasn't singled Al out -- they treat all employees this way. In my opinion, forcing employees to work while sick is not in the best interests of the employees or the company. I cannot imagine why the company clings to this warped way of thinking.
How should we handle this without jeopardizing Al's job? -- LINEMAN'S WORRIED WIFE
DEAR WORRIED WIFE: Your husband has the right to use his sick days as long as the need is legitimate. If the company is strict about bringing a doctor's excuse after each illness, Al must accept it and not take it personally.
Unless Al is being singled out and treated differently than his peers, or the company is violating an established policy, there is nothing to be done except consider finding a job with a different company, or another line of work.