Angry Doctor

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's all personal

"Tom, don't let anyone kid you. It's all personal, every bit of business. Every piece of shit every man has to eat every day of his life is personal. They call it business. OK. But it's personal as hell."

angry doc would like to look at a letter on a different topic today:

Sick service workers should stay home

I REFER to the report, 'Gastric flu cases in school traced to food handler' (ST, Aug 9).

A few weeks ago, I patronised a '$10 haircut in 10 mins' salon chain in a well-known shopping centre.

It soon became apparent that the cutter was suffering from a severe bout of flu as she was wheezing and sneezing away.

By then it was too late for me to abort the haircut.

I asked her why she turned up for work despite being sick. She explained that their compensation scheme penalises absenteeism from work, even for medical reasons, i.e., no show, no pay.

This sort of wage structure is fairly common in the retail sector. One can sometimes see obviously ill order takers, cashiers, food handlers and shop assistants at work.

While such a structure may discourage malingering, the risk of flu and other infectious diseases spreading rapidly in a densely populated city-state such as Singapore through contact points in the numerous shopping malls is clear and present.

My other question to the hair cutter was whether she had thought about putting on a mask. She told me the company did not permit them to put on a mask as doing so may scare customers away.

Besides customers and co-workers (it could be in the hundreds), sick workers could also spread diseases to other commuters when they travel in public transport.

One way to prevent such workers from turning up for work is to ensure that they are compensated fairly when they stay away due to medical reasons.

Another way is to have shopping-centre owners prohibit retailers from deploying ill workers.

Could the Ministry of Manpower and the Ministry of Health look into this matter?

Huang Xun Xian

It may be an anecdote, but it is by no means an isolated occurrence.

angry doc suspects that the people who wrote such staff policies never had to see a man close to tears because he is ashamed of not being able to afford his own healthcare, and not daring to take medical leave even when they are too ill to work because that would mean 'no pay'.

Healthcare may be a big business, but like Don Corleone said, every bit of it is, at the end of the day, personal as hell.



  • No, not an isolated occurence. I had a patient once, a Bangladeshi contruction worker, who saw me for high fever. Temp was 40 degrees C; refused MC because he said that wouldn't be paid if he didn't turn up for work. Apparently, his company doesn't believe in sick leave! And this was just after the SARS period when we were still on high alert for patients with high fevers. I told him if he went back to work, I would have to call his boss to let him know what was happening. Fearing that that would end up with him getting into trouble, he finally agreed. I wrote an MC + a memo for his supervisor...I wished I could have told off his company for such inhumane working conditions...

    By Blogger aliendoc, At August 15, 2007 7:50 pm  

  • This will not succeed in reality, that is what I think.
    this 4 | good 3 | do not forget 2 do not forget here | superb 7 | check check good 2 | do not forget 6

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 04, 2013 10:11 pm  

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