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Last weekend I came down with the ‘flu. It was not fun. It hit me on Friday and I had a final exam on Monday. My plan had been to study all weekend for that exam (it was a cell biology exam, so it needed intense amounts of study time). Anyway, Saturday I realize I definitely have the ‘flu and can’t study. I grunted monosyllables at my boyfriend, which he translated into an email to my professor to ask if I could take the exam later. She responded very kindly saying that I could but if I could bring a doctor’s note that would be preferable.

So, we set out on a mission to the local clinic that was open until 10pm to get me a doctor’s note. As we set out on our mission, with my boyfriend driving me to the clinic, I was feeling very happy to finally have insurance so I’d only have to pay $50 to find out that I was sick and that I needed fluids, Advil, and bed rest. I was thinking about what a ridiculous concept it is to force someone with a highly contagious disease to travel to a clinic to be told their sick and to avoid people.

I’m lucky, my boss doesn’t require official doctor’s notes when we’re sick. (In fact, I got very lucky, the Monday and Tuesday following this weekend of sickness were snow days so I didn’t even have to take a sick day!) But it just seems so ridiculous to force sick people to go to a doctor, to pay to see the doctor, just to be told they’re sick. What’s even more contradictory is that most of the jobs requiring these notes tend to be lower-paying jobs, with many employees who don’t have cars. These employees must then take public transport while they have a contagious disease in order to get this sick note. Many of these people have no health insurance, so they must pay what is often more than they would make in a day’s work, to get told their sick. It’s no wonder people go to work sick and diseases are spread.

There has to be a better system – one that doesn’t require sick people to travel to a doctor’s office to pay to be told they’re sick (and spread their germs in the meantime) in order to justify time off work. Sadly, in my journey to and from the clinic I could not think up an adequate solution.

Ideally, people would be trustworthy, and employers could know that no one would lie about sickness. Sadly, this seems like an unlikely option.

Does anyone have any ideas? The current system just seems so flawed.

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