Can my boss force me to travel to Italy, despite coronavirus concerns?

My employer wants me to fly to Italy for an important meeting. I don’t want to go because of the travel advisory for coronavirus. My boss said that I am overreacting. Can I decline to go without recrimination?
It is irresponsible for an employer to be so cavalier when it is clearly a serious situation. Even if the chances of contracting the virus are remote, given the current travel restrictions and government advisories, you have every right to decline and not suffer any recrimination as a result. There are such things as video conferencing and telephones, so it’s not as if there aren’t ways for you to participate in the meeting if it is a business imperative. I would explain your position on the matter, point to statements made by the government and other employers about how they will conduct business until the virus is under control, and offer an alternative. Any rational employer would understand, and I believe would be held to account legally if they took adverse action against you.

How do you reconcile with a boss with whom you had a falling out when you left for another job? This was several years ago, so will bygones be bygones? I’m looking for work. Should I bother trying to reach out?
I think it is usual to assume that once you’ve had a falling out with a boss, that bridge is burned, and sometimes it is, but carrying around negativity isn’t healthy. So, unless the falling out is over something egregious where you feel you could never work with the person again, be fearless about reaching out to mend fences. It is a very powerful thing to be able to do. The worst that can happen is the other person doesn’t accept the invitation, but if you don’t try, then you’ll never know. I recently connected with a former colleague with whom I didn’t have the best working relationship. Years later, we realized that it was a different place, time and context and wasn’t personal, so there was no need to hold a grudge. Now I think we’d be very happy to work together again. Martin Luther King Jr. said it eloquently: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” So be the light, my friend.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. Email your career questions to [email protected] Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande. His “Go to Greg” podcast series is available on iTunes.

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