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Could you be fired for having a cold?

PA Consulting’s people and talent expert, Claire Logan, discusses how COVID-19 may affect asset managers' sick leave policies and general industry presenteeism.

In the days before COVID-19 struck, when hands were not sanitised every 30 minutes and face masks were regarded by most as a cultural oddity, the winter months did nonetheless often bring a less welcome human interaction – the coughing and spluttering colleague.

As part of an industry that prided itself on being a people business, asset management firms have often seemed to be stuck with the curse of presenteeism, making it difficult for employees to work from home or take time off for everyday illnesses.

Yet with Covid rules in many European countries forcing citizens to self-isolate for days, could people’s attitudes towards other illnesses also undergo a transformation?

UK health secretary Matt Hancock remarked to parliament recently that workers should take note from the experiences of the past nine months and stop “soldiering on” into work in the future when ill so as to stop the spread of flu and other common respiratory viruses.

Just as the idea of several pints of beer each lunchtime – once commonplace in the City, now a potential disciplinary offence – became outdated, might coming into work with a cold soon become just as unacceptable?

Claire says: “The implementation of sick leave policies will become a minefield. Companies will have to be clear about responsibilities and expectations.”

She adds that employers will not be able to “just get away with complying with Covid-safe workplace guidelines” but will also need to “change behaviour and take their own action to keep people safe”.

Claire continues: “If you think it will be critical for teams to have regular Covid tests because they are in close proximity to each other, then put arrangements in place and pay for that.”

Claire says that senior managers will also have to “be ready for awkward conversations about employees’ personal lives” and “be prepared to have nuanced conversations about sickness and absence.”

She adds: “They will need to find out if a person is not coming into work because they have realised they can deliver the same output on Zoom and still be around to pick up the kids or if they really are ill.”

Read the full article in FT Ignites Europe

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Contact the author

Contact the people and talent team

Claire Logan

Claire Logan

Ashley Harshak

Ashley Harshak

Chris Steel

Chris Steel

Rachael Brassey

Rachael Brassey


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