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Should I Tell My Boss I Have Bed Bugs?

Apr, 2024

So, you just realized that you are sharing your bed with those unwelcome blood-sucking critters. As with most of our clients, you will likely have two immediate concerns: “How do I eliminate these dreadful pests?” and “Should I tell my boss?”.  Well, let’s clear the Canadian-legal aspect first: there is no requirement for you to disclose this information. That’s because what happens in your personal space is your own affair, and no provincial or federal laws mandate you to report a bed bug infestation to your workplace. 

Why We Do Not Have a Clear Answer

You might find this frustrating or perhaps comforting, but we cannot definitively answer whether you should inform your employer regarding your bed bug issue. Here are three reasons why:

1. We Don’t Know Your Workplace Dynamics

Your workplace could be different from others. Your boss might be eager to cut staff, or your work atmosphere might be unforgiving, where any issue like this could harm your career, mainly if you rely on your paycheck.

2. We Don’t Know Your Circumstances

Dealing with a bug infestation might demand time off- and that time might not come with a paycheck. If you cannot afford this, it would not be right for us to advise you to make a decision that could have detrimental financial implications.

3. Ethics are Personal

Much of this comes down to personal ethics; we set our own ethical boundaries. 

So, rather than dwelling on the “shoulds,” let’s delve into the practical, social, and ethical factors that determine whether you should inform your employer about your bed bug issue. 

Practical Factors 

(i) Bed Bug Mobility

Per the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the probability of a bed bug infestation occurring in an office or similar work setting is quite low. These areas typically lack the kind of furniture that bed bugs prefer. However, bed bugs are extremely mobile and can easily move from person to person. If you didn’t know you had bed bugs, there’s a chance one of your coworkers could inadvertently bring them home. Therefore, it is possible for a beg bug issue to proliferate through the workplace. 

(ii) Financial Impact

Many large organizations have formal human resources policies in place for when an employee reports a home bed bug infestation. These policies often require sending the individual home until the issue is resolved. Therefore, be prepared as you may have to deal with some financial repercussions.

(iii) A Tricky Work Preparation Regime

If you find yourself in a situation where you must continue going to work despite a bed bug infestation at home, you’ll need to adhere to a fairly stringent preparation routine until an exterminator handles the problem. Make sure to dry all your clothes on high heat and store them in a sealed plastic container. It’s also important to change into these clothes right at your front door. This process should be repeated every time you return home.

Basically, if you decide not to disclose your infestation to your employer, it becomes your responsibility to take all necessary precautions to safeguard your coworkers.

Social Considerations: The Possibility of Social Prejudice 

This issue is profoundly personal. Even if you believe your colleagues and superiors won’t pass judgment, for many, it’s against our nature to share such intimate details. You may face social prejudice from individuals who fail to understand that no one is to blame for a bed bug infestation.

If you’ve experienced this predicament, then you know how terrible it feels to be unfairly judged. Remember this experience if a friend or coworker ever faces the same issue. Offer them support and demonstrate that you don’t hold them personally responsible. A touch of empathy can go a long way!

Keep in mind there are professional implications to consider as well. As unjust as it may be, you can’t predict your employer’s reaction. They may be misinformed and question your professional competence simply because you came forward.

The good thing is that you can easily navigate these social obstacles by arming yourself with the right knowledge. Gather information sheets from reputable sources print them out. Use every chance you get to educate your workplace that bed bugs should not be a cause for shame. They are simply a challenge to be addressed, just like any other public health concern.

Ethical Considerations

The truth is, it’s extremely difficult to prevent the spread of bed bugs when you have a large-scale infestation at home. Unless you detected the issue very early on, there’s a high likelihood that it’s already spread. And naturally, each home that suffers a bed bug infestation becomes a new source for the problem to propagate.

It can be a challenging journey, but you’ll feel a sense of relief when it’s all over! But unless you have a truly compelling reason not to disclose, informing your employer is simply the right thing to do.

An Exterminator’s Opinion

As previously stated, we are not in a position to dictate what actions you should take, and the decision is ultimately yours. However, if you are interested, here is our suggestion of what you should do. 

Inform Your Employer

Of course, you might think there are several exceptions. If you know your employer is a terrible person who might judge you harshly or even dismiss you, then you’re clearly in a difficult situation and might not take our advice. It might also be time to consider looking for a new job!

In most cases, however, having that uncomfortable conversation about bed bugs is an unfortunate necessity. It’s better to face it head-on and have the relief of knowing you’re not hiding anything significant, especially if you are a caregiver or nanny. As a nanny or caregiver, if you don’t tell the homeowners about your bed bug infestation, eventually a pest management expert will help them find the source and root cause of the bed bugs in their home, which will be you (we have dealt with multiple cases like this).

Address the Issue Promptly

Certain household issues can be resolved gradually, but a bed bug infestation isn’t one of them. The more you delay, the harder it becomes to eliminate these unpleasant, blood-thirsty pests. Our primary recommendation in this scenario is to hire a professional exterminator to treat your home for bed bug infestation as soon as possible. Prompt action will expedite the resolution of your problem. Plus, it enables you to inform your boss that you’re actively taking measures to resolve the issue. It’s a win-win situation.

And Do Not Be Too Hard on Yourself!

If you inadvertently bring bed bugs to your workplace, don’t berate yourself! Feeling guilty won’t benefit anyone, and dealing with these pests is already stressful enough without adding unnecessary self-blame. Bear in mind that any home can fall prey to a bed bug infestation.

So, the most crucial and effective thing you can do is to act. Consult with an exterminator as soon as you spot bed bugs in your home. Then, take a deep breath and let the professionals handle the rest.

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