How sick for a sick day?
September 17, 2004 10:17 AM   Subscribe

How sick do you have to be to call in sick to work?

I've already e-mailed in sick, so this is a moot point, but I feel guilty. I have a head cold -- the suggestion of a cough, big congestion, oppressive lethargy, and the lurking hint of the sore throat I developed on Tuesday that's fortunately all but vanished now that the other symptoms moved in.

But I don't yet have a fever. And this is definitely not one of the harder flu/cold-thingies I've had in life (knocking on wood). It's clearly not debilitating, and while I may not work at 100% today, if I went in, I'm sure I could have gotten stuff done.

Then again, the wary looks and half-scowls I go into work with my phlegm-bullets spraying everywhere would seem to indicate that I'm better appreciated at home in this state.

What are your criteria for calling in sick to work?
posted by grrarrgh00 to Work & Money (20 answers total)
 
... wary looks and half-scowls I [get when I] go into work ...

Remember that bit about not working at 100%? Exempli gratia.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 10:19 AM on September 17, 2004


If I think I'm catching, I'll call in sick. If I have a fever, I'll call in sick. If I've got some mysterious gi tract problem I'll often call in sick because I'd much rather be sick in my own bathroom than in a public one. I have a long commute so often I'm more worried about the drive to work than actually what I'll be able to accomplish at work. If I'm sort of half-sick I'll often call in and say I'll be a few hours late and see if a good breakfast and a leisurely morning at home makes me more able to face a day at work. My major criteria is often "Is there something I am scheduled to do that would either not happen or go badly if I were to not show up?" and if the answer is yes then I try to show up if I can possible make it.
posted by jessamyn at 10:28 AM on September 17, 2004


I say this as someone who's managed staff. First of all, if you're coughing, you could be contagious. This is enough for me to say you should stay home. No employer in their right mind would rather have one infectious employee show up for work and make the whole office sick than pay a single stinking sick day (depending on what your sick pay situation is).

Second, by going in to work instead of taking a day to sloth around at the beginning of an illness, you're making it less likely that you'll miss more work. This day off work now might mean no days off work later.

Third, people who have that "if you can stand up without fainting, you're well enough to go to work" attitude scare me - yes, you have to have a good work ethic, but I think that work should not be your life to that extent. And I also have no problem with people taking "mental health days", sometimes you just need to live for a day and forget about the 9-5.

I also agree with jessamyn - it often really depends on what your day is like, if not going in when you're just sorta-sick will inconvenience a whole host of people, it's better to go in, if there's nothing really pressing, don't.
posted by biscotti at 10:34 AM on September 17, 2004


If I think I'm getting sorta-sick, but could still work, I'll work from home. I don't get to do that often, but the boss feels that that's a good situation to do that in.
posted by kindall at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2004


I call in sick when I don't think I can be more than minimally productive or when I feel that sleeping all day is the only thing that's going to keep me from getting worse.

I call in to say I'm planning to work from home if I'm not too sick to be productive, but am likely contagious, or if my particular sickness would make driving dangerous (dizziness, for example).

I call in sick, and do a bit of half-assed work at home anyway, if I'm mostly too sick to be productive but get bored sitting around doing nothing.

If I wasn't able to work from home, I'd call in fully sick a lot more often.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:28 AM on September 17, 2004


No employer in their right mind
That's a huge assumption.
Are you part-time or full-time? IE, do you have paid sick days? Better to take one early, rest up, and not infect other people than spread your germs and maybe have to be sicker later.

If you don't have paid sick days, well, you're screwed, and so are your co-workers.
posted by mimi at 11:51 AM on September 17, 2004


I don't feel guilty calling in sick. That's what paid sick days are for. I'll even take a few mental health days a year. It ultimately results in greater productivity. For the same reasons, I'll work late some days.

As jessamyn said, it does depend on the current situation at work; I don't like to screw coworkers over.
posted by batboy at 12:19 PM on September 17, 2004


Second, by going in to work instead of taking a day to sloth around at the beginning of an illness, you're making it less likely that you'll miss more work. This day off work now might mean no days off work later.

I think you meant the opposite of this. i.e.

"If you stay home now you might get over this before it becomes a full-blown bronchial infection, which would mean more days lost later."

Right?
posted by mecran01 at 12:20 PM on September 17, 2004


Calling in sick to work is an unalienable right.
posted by adampsyche at 1:01 PM on September 17, 2004


From November to March, about 2 inches or 3/4 inch of powder (1/2 if it's champagne). Otherwise, I don't get sick that much.

Seriously, if you have a sit at the computer job and you'll just be sitting at the computer at home, you might as well go to work. If anything is coming out of your body that would infect or disgust your co-workers, stay home. I won't go to work if there's a physical impediment (distance from porcelain, etc) or I obviously have something infectious. Hangovers, headaches (other than disabling ones), upset stomachs, sore throats, other general malaise--I go to work. Luckily, most of the time, I have the option of working at home.
posted by m@ at 1:03 PM on September 17, 2004


I've called in sick once in the last ~15 years of my working life. I had a fever of 105.
posted by togdon at 1:48 PM on September 17, 2004


You have to be sick?
posted by desert_roamer at 2:06 PM on September 17, 2004


The distance to the bathroom is the make or breaker for me. I can work with a severe headache/coughing but a regular visit to the throne isn't compatible with my 50 minute in 80 minute out bus commute.
posted by Mitheral at 2:31 PM on September 17, 2004


No no, take your sick days when you're feeling good! You'll enjoy them so much more!
posted by cell at 3:49 PM on September 17, 2004


mecran01: oops, yes, what you said is what I meant. Taking a day off at the start of an illness often means less time off in total.
posted by biscotti at 5:14 PM on September 17, 2004


If you really feel crummy, don't take tons of sick/personal days, and have the time, then stay home & rest up. Assuming you have paid sick time, you don't have to justify how sick you feel to anybody but yourself.

Usually I draw my personal line at having a fever, needing to go to the doctor, or GI problems. If it's just the sniffles, I go in but make sure to wash my hands, phone & desk area often.
posted by catfood at 9:08 PM on September 17, 2004


Assuming you have paid sick time, you don't have to justify how sick you feel to anybody but yourself.

Well, until you hit the threshold where they want to see a doctor's note, which some employers will eventually.
posted by kindall at 11:20 PM on September 17, 2004


I am delighted to see how many of you recognize the issue of contagion. I long for the day when I see an employer sued because they make people come to work with "just a cold" which then infects a bunch of others, needlessly.
posted by Goofyy at 11:54 PM on September 17, 2004


If you're only slightly sick - work from home. Do this fairly often. :-)
posted by xammerboy at 10:36 AM on September 18, 2004


In general, I only call in sick if I'm vomitting. But when I get sick it tends to only display itself as sleeplessness.
posted by drezdn at 10:44 AM on September 18, 2004


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