mucus trooper
n. An employee with a cold or the flu who insists on showing up for work.
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Almost half of employees dragged themselves to work despite illness last year because of Britain's "long-hours culture", according to a Trades Union Congress survey.

Brendan Barber, general secretary, called on employers to discourage sick workers from jeopardising their health and infecting colleagues. "It is all part of our long-hours culture," he said. "Indeed, long hours, stress and increasing workloads make people sick."

Most "mucus troopers" said they did not want to disappoint people who depended on their work, according to the survey conducted at the height of the flu and cold season this week. Almost 20 per cent did not want to let employers down while 16 per cent feared a loss of pay.
—Friederike Tiesenhause Cave, “Sick workers belong at home, unions tell employers,” Financial Times (London, England), January 23, 2004
Are you a mucus trooper, a stoic, a model patient, a walking epidemic or a shirker? As a new poll finds that three in four staff have been to work when ill, the TUC has published new advice on sickness at work and a quiz that finds out what category you fall into on its world of work website,
—“'Don't be a mucus trooper' says TUC,” Trade Union Congress, January 20, 2004
2003 (earliest)
To mucus troop is to turn up at work when suffering with flu or a nasty cold. A mucus trooper may do this out of loyalty, guilt, self-destructiveness, employer pressure, to impress or, occasionally, because of an instacold (a sudden illness) surfacing on the way to work. A mucus trooper is the opposite of medically omniabsent (never around). A mucus trooper gives sick stay rather than taking sick leave and can cause a constaygion — an epidemic of people assuming they must work despite illness.
—“Up Front: Vital Statistics,” The Observer, November 30, 2003
Andy Smith told me about this phrase.
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