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Churches join fight against flu

SAN DIEGO – As San Diego braces for the next wave of the flu, the Catholic Church joined the fight against it.

Cheryl Hunter is a parishioner at St. Columba Church in Serra Mesa and said new recommendations were recently handed down by the highest level of the Catholic Church.

“They don’t shake hands during the sign of peace,” said Hunter.  “We don’t receive wine.”

church“They’ve stopped holding hands during the ‘Our Father,’” said Hunter.  “They did this before. When the flu was real bad type of thing people are more than willing to do it.”

It may be strange not having the traditions the parishioners grew up with, but Hunter said she doesn’t mind, it’s about staying healthy and avoiding the flu.

Flu season continues to heat the debate on sick time laws. Employee rights attorney Norm Blumenthal said if you’re sick, you can take days off legally, but an employee does not have to pay you.

“Under the Family Medical Leave Act, you’re entitled to have days off if you’re sick, for yourself or for sick care of others. You have to have a note,” said Blumenthal.  “They can’t fire you for being sick and if you have a doctor’s note.”

But, Blumenthal said under the state law, employees are not required to provide paid sick days.

“The easy solution is just make your sick days part of your vacation pay or your personal time off ,” said Blumenthal.  “If you come to work sick you may miss a week, you’re better off taking a day off than missing a week.”

Barbara Beltaire owns Barbarella’s in La Jolla and said she only provides sick time for salary employees.

So far the restaurant has managed to avoid the flu and sickness this season.

“A few people have colds now and then,” she said. “We make sure they don’t contaminate and they stay home.”

While she doesn’t provide sick time for hourly employees, Beltaire said she always tries to help out a sick employee.