Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't panic!

Swine flu has reached us, actually it reached us a couple of weeks ago now but has been sufficiently boring it didn't merit blogging about. There was a spot of panic with internal meetings and seminars cancelled due to the "risk" of spreading the disease, but the annual BBQ was way too important to be postponed, so we all stood around poking at communal plates of food with our used chopsticks :-)

The concept of sick leave hasn't caught on in Japan, either in law or in practice(*). So people generally struggle into work when they are ill, and infect all their cell-mates, rather than daring to leave their desks empty for a day. However, the current policy is that people who are confirmed infected with swine flu get an enforced 8 days off work, and the same 8 days applies even if you merely have a family member confirmed with the disease. If jules and I play our cards right we could both get 16 days in a row, and probably only feel ill for about 2 of them. Of course this means you have to go and see a doctor when you are probably better off staying in bed...merely being ill with flu doesn't suffice, it has to be the right strain.

(*) I amused myself by asking about the sick leave policy a few weeks back when there was an an-hoc health and safety meeting - the only time such a meeting has been held in the 8 years I've been here, I think it was motivated by preparations for the flu panic. The boss insisted that of course they had a sick leave policy like any reputable employer would, but it was written in Japanese and he couldn't explain it to me (there were some kanji up on the screen at the time). I asked the other people in the room if any of them could explain it to me, and was met with a row of blank faces. I have asked the bureaucracy, and the question has disappeared into a black hole, just as it did when I asked several years ago.

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