If you work in an occupation that requires you to possibly expose yourself to bedbugs, how should the costs associated with bedbug treatment and prevention be handled? Occupations such as hotel room cleaning and maintenance persons, home care and nursing home workers, prison guards, and social workers require staff to repeatedly put themselves in settings potentially infested with bedbugs.
Should employers be required to pay for 100% of bedbug treatments for their staff? Should employers be required to provide bedbug protocol training to staff at regular intervals? Should the possibility of bedbug infestations be discussed and terms agreed upon prior to employment? What potential arguments exist for each side of the employer/employee equation?
HR equity theories argue that workplace hazards be considered when determining employee compensation. When did your employment begin? Has the alarming increase in bedbugs in the last few years substantially changed your working conditions? Have your responsibilities changed? If so, your compensation should be evaluated. The argument would be that a raise might help pay for home treatments.
Did your workplace train you on the bedbug protocol? Do they provide regular refreshers and remove obstacles to you being able to practice the protocols?
The argument that you are responsible for getting bedbugs because you must have failed in following the protocols is not valid. They would have to show that you had deliberately flaunted the protocols and that they had repeatedly reminded you to follow the correct protocol and then you had still not done so. People make mistakes and fatigue is a big factor. Even the most carefully followed protocols are not 100% guaranteed.
Comparing your situation to everyone else who didn’t get them is also not valid. Who knows other people didn’t get them? How reliable is that info? You may simply be the only person in your workplace that has complained.
If you work for a non-profit, a government agency, or a small business, the employer may argue that they cannot afford to pay for your treatment. It is in the agency’s best interest to help with bedbug elimination. Many employees will not be economically able to properly treat for bedbugs, and this could lead to a major bedbug outbreak within the workplace. This would be much more expensive in the long run.
The following excerpt comes from a non-profit organization employee:
i thought of a few other arguments and presented them to the first authority figure i have to deal with today.
the most effective argument would be that although it is in our job description to visit infested homes, our co-workers often avoid these places. asking their clients to meet them elsewhere or standing in the hallways. with the population we deal with this could compromise our effectiveness, hinder our observation of a person’s well being and conditions, and lead to horrible consequences. plus we would obviously not be doing the exact job that we are paid to do.
without a workplace assurance that they would help us, were we to get them, most of my co-workers will covertly discontinue weekly home visits. this could also lead to a lack of funding for our program.
your ideas and logic have been very very helpful. keep it comin!
What experience and argument have you come across when dealing with bedbugs in the workplace? Leave a comment and let us know about your experiences.