WWYD in My Situation? Should I Start Isolating?

Just want to gauge what people would do in my situation to see if I'm making a rational choice.

Home: Living with parents and grandparents, they are all retired and we have enough supplies to not have to leave home for at least a month. Most at risk if infected is 90 year old grandparent that also has diabetes and high blood pressure.

Work: Work has encouraged 1.5m distancing and frequent handwashing but due to the nature of work and teamwork needed for tasks, groups tend to work in close contact for many hours. I drive to work, whereas most others catch buses/trains. I have been rigorously handwashing but hygiene/distancing rules aren't really enforced so many coworkers don't follow it as much, especially ones that are young and are at low risk of death/do not have family that are at high risk, e.g. frequently joking about catching it so that they can take sick days off work (early 20s, live with partner/flatmates, they genuinely wouldn't mind despite news that some younger people become seriously ill too).

Situation: There's currently a very light workload due to reduced demand so work is happy for me to use annual leave (around 5 week's worth) then unpaid leave indefinitely. I am grateful to have a job at this time but I don't want to wait until it's too late to take action, especially since cases and deaths are starting to rise. There are bills and mortgage to pay but we are financially stable enough that we will be okay until the end of the year if none of us work and live the budget quarantine life (avoiding free delivery temptations!). After that, we would definitely need some source of income. I am unlikely to lose my position at work unless the company becomes bankrupt.

I am the only family member that needs to leave the house. I would be very regretful if I didn't take time off work when I am allowed to and made a family member seriously ill. If you were in my position, would you start taking leave?

Poll Options

  • 77
    Yes, I would start taking leave ASAP.
  • 5
    Yes, I would take leave but give it a week or 2 to see how things are going.
  • 0
    No, I would not take leave unless it turns into an Italy/Spain type scenario.
  • 1
    No, I would not take leave unless I/somebody at work or someone they live with gets covid-19.
  • 6
    No, I would not take leave unless work decided to close/government tells work to close.


  • What did ScoMo say when you asked him?

  • +4 votes

    Hymio-with-the-good-haircut, not worth risking your family's health. I would go on leave.

  • Rent a caravan and park it in the back yard

  • If you don't absolutely need to live with the rest of the family, you could take all your paid leave now, then assess the situation in 5 weeks. If things still haven't improved, you could move out (rent something cheap like a small apartment) and go back to work if that makes sense financially or provides job security. Otherwise take unpaid leave.

  • work is happy for me to use annual leave … I am unlikely to lose my position at work unless the company becomes bankrupt.

    No brainer. Use your annual leave. Perhaps ask your employer if you can take 2 weeks, assess the situation, another 2 weeks, etc. If you can assist them remotely with advice/work from home in urgent times, this may also help your position.

    Remember in this climate, your employer is likely hurting as much as employees.

  • Stretch out for leave by taking 1/2 leave 1/2 LWOP, at least you'll have cash flow for longer

  • No possibility of doing your PAID work from home? Sounds like mgmt is saying your only option is to take annual leave?

    • Unfortunately not as it's in a manufacturing line and I know there's barely enough office work to go around at the moment (redundancies, etc.) or else I would ask to help out with that. Management has always been very supportive and flexible with work so I don't begrudge them.

  • yes, the least human contact the better. Everybody aim to no human contact each day. The virus has no host and will die. Next 2 weeks is critical.

  • ask about a flexi day

    • I lean towards starting your leave asap.
      How would you feel if the worst happened. Even if it ultimately wasn't your fault you may have a hard time proving that to yourself.
      You don't have to catch the virus to give it to someone else. It can hitch hike on your clothes, work bag lunch box etc. (especially if you're forced to work with people who don't seem to care)
      If you can't isolate yourself from your family either inside your home (really hard to do) or elsewhere then an extended leave of absence from work may be an excellent value for money way of spending that hard earned cash.
    • I don't vote for leaving it for a week or two… Two weeks extra leave early on in an epidemic will have a far greater value than an extra two weeks at the trailing end.

    You said that work is pretty light on atm. Can you organise to be temporarily laid off until this mess is over? just a thought.

  • I'd ask your employer if you can take annual leave at half pay so at least you can spread it out a little longer. The PAYG withholding rate should drop a bit leaving a bit extra in your pocket per pay, and provides security of incoming money so you don't get a shock at the 5 week mark (even if the effect is similar).

    My mum is very high risk too and I was freaking out being told to come to work each day in an office of maybe 1000. 8 hours in air conditioning and all those humans was too much for me. Wash my hands like crazy but it's impossible every time you touch something, let alone sitting next to people at our desks. Decided to go on annual leave until they were ready for us to WFH.

    The harsh reality is that your grandparent and my mum are very high risk and more likely than not to not survive if they get sick.

    It's so hard.

  • Do you have any Sick / Carer's leave that you could access first?
    It would be hard to deny you if you said that you need to stay home to care for elderly parents or grandparents who can't safely leave the house.

  • Ask for remote working possibility.

  • How about moving out? Finding a room somewhere else for the interim? There's PLENTY going at the moment.

    • Yeah I was going to say, you're better off finding temporary accommodation somewhere..
      I am stuck in an apartment and would love to go and stay with my partners parents who are in their 70's (no medical issues), but its still just too risky..

  • Just wanted to say thanks for all the replies and advice. I ended up taking annual leave as I don't think it's fair or allowed for me to use up all my sick leave for this (unless one of us does become genuinely sick). I'll definitely consider living apart from the family if it gets worse but I'm hoping that it doesn't come to that as I would be pretty lonely and still worry about them. Thanks!