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Sick kids? Take time to look after them at home, say child care, employment experts

A young boy sitting on the carpet in a day care centre.
A young boy sitting on the carpet in a day care centre. Getty Images

Flu season is in full swing, and local child care experts say if your kids are sick, they should stay at home — even if that means you, as a parent, need to take time off work as well.

Tracy Fotiuk, executive director of Winnipeg’s Sugar n’ Spice day care, told 680 CJOB there’s a pretty straightforward threshold at her facility for when to send a child home.

If your child has a fever of 101 degrees or higher, symptoms of a disease like strep throat or persistent diarrhea, they shouldn’t be in school or day care, she said.

READ MORE: Have a plan for flu season: Manitoba health officials

“If we notice the child is not themselves, a little bit under the weather, we make them comfortable here,” Fotiuk said.

“We check their fever, and if it’s minor, we  just phone the parents and let them know, he’s just got a minor fever, but he’s OK… because you know they’ll be there in a couple of hours.”

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“If the child has a fever of 101 or higher, the parents do get a call to pick them up. If they have anything such as strep throat or anything like that, they have to be picked up and go on meds for 24 hours before they can return.”

Fotiuk said the children at her day care, along with the staff, are encouraged to wash their hands as frequently as possible to prevent the spread of illness, but when it comes down to it, a sick kid is better off at home.

“Where is the child most comfortable? It’s at home on their bed when they’re not feeling well,” she said.

Parents may wrestle with taking time off from work to take care of a sick child, but according to HR expert Barbara Bowes, many employers in today’s world are understanding of the family needs of their employees.

READ MORE: Winnipeg’s first baby of new decade born at HSC Women’s Hospital

The Employment Standards Code, she said, gives workers a mandatory three days of unpaid leave to deal with family matters, on top of any sick days they may have.

“The three days unpaid leave is the employment standard, but most companies have five days paid leave,” she said.

“If that runs out, people will take their vacation, they’ll use their overtime, they’ll take anything to be able to manage their family affairs.

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“There’s a lot of situations and policies and procedures both from an employment standards approach and also in the HR policies that are really looking toward accommodating employees as best that we can.”

Nowadays, Bowes said, it’s not only employees taking care of their kids that are burning up sick time and paid or unpaid leave.

“In today’s world, a lot of people that I know are dealing with elderly parents,” she said.

“Everyone has to really chip in on the health issues.”

Seasonal flu targeting children under 15 in Manitoba
Seasonal flu targeting children under 15 in Manitoba