My mother believes that being sick of work is a valid reason to take a sick day or, as she calls it, a mental health day. She also maintains that calling in sick at the beginning of your work day doesn’t mean you have to be sick all day. She had no problem using her sick days to go shopping, see movies, and visit friends. Out of town, of course.
For me, calling in sick is a perilous decision, fraught with guilt and second guessing. I’m lucky in that I don’t hate calling in sick because of the financial hit, I get paid time off, I hate it because I work in healthcare. Healthcare, like many other professions, is stretched a little thin these days. If one person doesn’t show up for work, everyone else has to pick up the slack. Forget about managers being pissed off at a sick call. Imagine the agonized groans of your co-workers when they hear the news.
So how to decide whether to go to work tomorrow or not? Here are the rules I live by:
1.) In case of vomiting, stay home. Your co-workers have no interest in cleaning up after you and the lingering smell may cause your less iron-stomached co-workers to join in the fun.
2.) In case of diarrhea, stay home. No one wants to catch a waft of your stomach-turning stomach upset when they walk past the bathroom or jump out of your way as you make a frantic dash to get to the bathroom in time. Chances are you have a perfectly good, private bathroom at home, use it.
3.) In case of a fever of 100.5 or greater, as confirmed by an actual thermometer, take some Tylenol or Motrin and stay home. Imagine your fever as a wildfire, eagerly waiting to take down everyone at your workplace. Be the fire line, not the pyromaniac.
4.) In case of hacking up a lung each time you cough, stay home. No one at work wants to see your phlegm or discuss the color, consistency and amount with you. Practice until you can manage a discreet, civilized cough. It can be done.
5.) Most importantly, in the case of any infliction, emotional or physical, that makes it impossible for you to properly perform your job duties, stay home. No one wants to watch a co-worker crying in pain or emotional distress for eight hours. It slows down production.
Staying home sick should be a rational, easy decision if you use your common sense. And, unless you’re headlining a stadium tour, your absence from the workplace for a day or two won’t bankrupt the business or break the heart of thousands of fans and vendors.
Remember, sometimes not going to work is the best gift you can give to your co-workers. Use it wisely.
- Going To Work Sick May Cost More Than Staying Home, Staffing Expert Says (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- Hospitals coping with sick employees (wwlp.com)
- One in three Americans have no paid sick days (money.cnn.com)
- Teacher sick calls’ validity doubted|Board member wants probe into days off (rep-am.com)
- Cough, Sneeze, Cough 1-13-2013 (hibernationnow.wordpress.com)
Years ago, I used to work when I was sick because of the lost pay and guilt at making other people pick up the slack. Then I had a cold that just would not go away, and a constant cough, so I went to the doctor and found out I had walking pneumonia. I was ordered to stay in bed for 10 days. (I now l have scar tissue in my lungs.) From then on, if I got sick, I stayed home. Missing 1 or 2 days of work is nothing to missing 10.
And then there’s the contagion factor and picking up the slack. You just know that if one person comes to work sick, pretty soon people fall like dominoes. It’s better for the employer if just one person misses 2 days than have person after person calling in for 1 to 2 days, one right after the other. Talk about missed productivity!
So whenever I’ve started a new job, I have a brief discussion with my employer about sick days and the company policy. If it’s lacking, I always manage to get something in there about the domino theory, and how people just don’t wipe down their phones, etc. Usually they start encouraging people to stay home if sick, after that.
But it sucks the big wet one if you don’t get paid sick days.
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