Lifestyle Blog from the Philippines

Sunday, April 25, 2021

The Sunday Update 22: I am Not OK

When is the job more important than your life or your mental health? These days, I’m sure that many would say never. Personally, I am questioning the same thing myself.

As I said in last week’s update, I had an RT-PCR test done at work with the rest of my co-workers with the help of the Philippine Red Cross. Someone had tested positive previously and we all had to make sure that no one at work was infected. Thankfully, none of us tested positive and we could all breathe a sigh of relief. Still, it was a big risk (and some have said, out of line and against health protocols) for our boss to order us to report for work even while we were waiting for the test results. I can’t imagine the stress I would be going through if someone had ended up testing positive. 

I was talking to a shocked colleague who just learned that my boss ordered me to work at the office given my health issues. Given how bad COVID has affected the health of those who were infected, my colleague thinks that I am risking my life by reporting at the office when I could just as efficiently do my job at home. He is not the only one who has told me that this is just not worth risking my life for.


Image by HubertPhotographer from Pixabay

I am aware that I have a right to request to work from home and I have done that. My problem is that my boss refuses to let me do so for the petty reason that some people are jealous that I get to work from home. Another colleague from another agency said that my boss is in denial of the gravity of the situation. I honestly don’t know if it is ignorance, denial, or just plain stubbornness that causes him to make the decisions that he does during this pandemic. It is even more frustrating how he can make me feel like I am being too sensitive or overreacting by asking to work from home or ask for certain health protocols. I am just trying to stay alive...is that too much to ask?

The stress is taking its toll on me now that I have been working at the office three days a week compared to my previous schedule of once a week. On days when I have to be at the office, I end up having sleepless nights because I am worried about going outside and being exposed because of how many we are at the office and the small space we have to work in. When I am at the office, my anxiety can cause my mind to drift away because I am constantly worried if I had touched something infected or too close to anyone else. It doesn’t help that we do not have air purifiers at the office so I am also constantly thinking of the circulating air. I tried opening the windows several times but I keep seeing someone else closing them reasoning that it is too hot to leave them open. 

The only health protocols we have at the office are providing masks to wear and alcohol to use. We do not disinfect after office hours, we only have one person assigned to clean once a week on Mondays. No one cleans the office regularly, since the boss thinks we should just be cleaning our own cubicles and that is enough. We don’t have air purifiers, UV light or fog disinfectants, or even disinfecting foot mats. I’m actually jealous that other offices have that. They even give employees a regular supply of soap, alcohol, and vitamins while we have to bring our own soap and tissue paper for whenever we need to use the bathroom. There are so many excuses for why we are so “limited,” but that is just my point, if we cannot provide a safe environment at work, why not allow those who can to work a home?

It has been difficult for me to be working at an office where the boss does not show concern for the health and well-being of its employees. As much as I would want to leave, however, it has been difficult to do so given that so many people have lost their jobs during this pandemic and I would rather not be one of them. I have people who depend on me financially and have certain financial obligations that I need to meet, so I cannot exactly up and leave anytime I would want to. 

To say that I am afraid every time I am in the office would be an understatement. I would really like to go back to working from home but it seems that it is not going to happen since my boss wants to get us to all go back to working the same schedule we had pre-pandemic. Without the necessary health protocols. 

Can’t I just win the lottery now so I can retire already? 

 

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