COVID stress when friends, family and the future of my small business are on the line

I am an employer, a small business owner, and my employees are friends, dependents and essential parts of my business. I do my best to treat them fairly, pay them well and give them the respect to allow them to manage their time as long as they do it responsibly. I give generous vacation and unlimited sick leave. I understand there will be softball games, orchestral performances and doctor’s appointments. You are more than my employee, you are a mother, a brother, an aunt, a grandfather, a daughter, a son.

What I expect in return is a strong and responsible contribution to the business, maintaining our high standards of customer service and supporting this valuable part of my business by protecting you from preventable disease. .

I had an employee who contracted COVID-19 this year. This employee had previously refused the vaccine, originally for a completely justified medical reason. However, after that reason cleared up, this person still delayed the vaccine because they were in good health, no more than 60 years old, not overweight, with no underlying medical conditions that could potentially lead to serious infection.

This employee has been away for two and a half weeks and is still struggling with burnout. The hours this person can work are fewer than before, and I constantly check to make sure this person is not overdoing it.

However, in the meantime, my business has lost half of its generation of billable hours. Our gross income was reduced by 55% last month, and is likely to be reduced by 20% for another month, at least. Our customers have lost access to the immediate reliable support they rely on from us. At a time when we were already plagued by multiple failed attempts to train more field workers, this is potentially crippling.

I just got my June salary last week. You read correctly. It’s because my employees are paid first. My bills are paid first.

So when I say to an employee, “You have to get this photo to continue working for me,” I don’t do it because I’m worried about liability or insurance rates, or because I’m worried. bow to a government. pressure. I do it because, first of all, I don’t want to see my friend suffer and die. Because I don’t want this person to get sick and make me and my family sick. And finally, maybe the most important of all, because I can’t. Offer yourself. TO. To lose. You. If I lose another employee because they get sick from a preventable illness, it could potentially cripple us to the point where I can’t pay my bills.

I have had an obligation to myself, to my clients for two decades, and I have a responsibility to my employees to keep my business financially sound and solvent.

If I don’t do everything I can to keep you from getting sick, to avoid having to pay you for two weeks (or four weeks, or six months) while you are in treatment, hospitalized, or worse, and that I have to pay someone else to do your job, or there is no one else to do your job, I am irresponsible to my company, to myself, to my clients and to my other employees.

So, yeah, if you say no to that, I’ll fire you. Because I can’t afford not to. When you refuse this move, for whatever reasons, I will not argue with you. I’m not going to cajole, plead, or offer more bribes than I already have ($ 200 per person in the family to show proof of vaccination). I will move on and find someone who values ​​my business, my job, my clients and their colleagues as much as I do.

And I will lose a friend. It will hurt more than anything.

Editor’s Note: Letting a guest columnist write anonymously is not something The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com do lightly or often. Rare exceptions have involved survivors of sexual assault whose stories we have independently verified. In this case, we were persuaded of the validity of the author’s concerns about the potentially harmful business and personal repercussions of anti-vaccine campaigners if the trial were signed; of the author’s good faith in writing on this subject; and the value of sharing the perspective of a small business owner trying to stay afloat as COVID-19 continues to impact infected employees and their employers.

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