I can't stand it when someone that sits near me comes in when they're sick. All day long I listen to them sniffle and cough and I just sit there and wonder how long until they pass their germs on to me and I get sick. What do I say to this person?

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    Say it to your boss. You have no say in this matter. Your boss does. – keshlam Jul 25 '14 at 15:29
  • If you only knew how dirty an office can get full of germs and viruses the near sick guy would be the least of your worries. I read somewhere that the office phone is the germiest. – Tasos Jul 25 '14 at 16:50
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    Are they actually ill with something contagious, or is it seasonal/environmental allergies? – alroc Jul 25 '14 at 17:25
  • I think it would highly depend if your company has possibility for work from home and/or employees have sick days. – Ida Jul 25 '14 at 17:57
  • Even for salaried professionals, most companies' vacation/leave policies incentivize coming into work sick. So, it's a culture thing, mostly. – James Adam Feb 19 '15 at 16:32

If anything your co-worker is doing makes you uncomfortable or is potentially dangerous for you but yet it would make you very uncomfortable to talk about then you should bring it up with your closest manager.

Some people are too afraid to ask for a day off when feeling ill, bringing it up with the manager might just as well be a relief for the sick person if the manager brings it up to that person.

However, this is not an easy situation, that person might have important deadlines to handle or he might have been at home for a long time but is now simply recovering; neither feeling ill nor being infectious but obviously not looking so good. In those cases you simply have to deal with it.

If it makes you feel any better then I can tell you that people who appear to be sick are usually (depending on whether it's a virus or a bacteria but nevertheless usually..) no longer infecting other people with what they have caught, they already spent a week doing that before they appeared to be sick.

If that person is not sick enough to be at home you'll have to deal with it, be happy that they're probably not infecting you and plug some music in your ears and focus on your work.

Best of luck.

  • What if your manager is unsympathetic because they also come into work sick? – Kyle Delaney Apr 23 '18 at 20:26

Regardless of the circumstance, if you have a problem with your coworker you have two ways of dealing with it:

  1. Directly - Ask the coworker to take a day off.
  2. Indirectly - Ask your boss to tell the coworker to go home.

When someone is sick it is in the company's best interest to send them home. After all, the company doesn't want everyone that comes into contact with this person to have to take a day off - that could be a big loss to productivity.

As a manager, I've sent people home on many occasions both because I noticed the problem and when others have brought it up to me. It's really not a big deal. For hourly employees I generally have a way for them to make up the time.

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    Some people are sniffling and coughing for weeks (e.g. hayfever). In this case, sending them home is not really an option. – Paul Hiemstra Jul 25 '14 at 19:24
  • @PaulHiemstra: I agree that Hayfever/allergies are normal. But you can usually tell the difference. – NotMe Jul 28 '14 at 15:32

For sure you have no power over your colleague (as long as you are not the boss!) but you can tell the colleague that you would rather keep your health than their company (hey, say this with a smile, it is a joke (right?)).

Of course if you are seriously concerned and after a soft approach with the colleague they do not go home, then you should speak with the boss.

Your health is important, so if you feel like it is at risk, do something about it.

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