When do you know it's time to take a sick day?
October 28, 2015 8:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm taking my first sick day in a long time, after my boss told me to go home from a meeting because I had actually lost my voice. I'm not good at knowing when feeling crappy merits taking a sick day and when it merits just sucking it up and hauling yourself in to work, especially if you have meetings planned or are supposed to be teaching a group. How do you decide that the level of sick you're feeling is sick enough to require calling in?
posted by sciatrix to Health & Fitness (43 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
1. If it's anything contagious, as a courtesy, I'll call in sick (or work from home, if you can do that), because it's unfair to bring your germs to the office.
2. If taking a day's rest will do me more good than struggling to work.

I think we all seem to think that NOT taking sick time makes us "better employees," but honestly, I think that just makes us all sicker in the long run, and nobody does well working when they're feeling terrible. I would say that if you saw a coworker or a friend/relative looking like you feel, and you'd tell them to get some rest, do the same for yourself.
posted by xingcat at 8:20 AM on October 28, 2015 [23 favorites]

1) If you're contagious
2) If you're too sick to get anything done (lost your voice, blowing your nose constantly, painfully sore throat, etc.)
posted by easter queen at 8:20 AM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you feel sick enough to not go to work and/or you're contagious. I used to overthink this, but truly, it's the rare employer that will hold it against you or even care that you took a sick day. There are always meetings, and there's always something important happening that day. Just call out sick and don't look back.
posted by Automocar at 8:23 AM on October 28, 2015 [6 favorites]

As a manager, if you're contagious, I don't want you in the office.
posted by frumiousb at 8:24 AM on October 28, 2015 [14 favorites]

I would go further than that. If I can still limp through the day and get things done but my productivity is severely hampered, and is going to be hampered for a while as a I recover, I will take a sick day. Often a full day of rest and recovery leads to a net gain in productivity throughout the week.

And you know, I would go even further than that. Not caring about productivity at all. If a sick day to rest and recover is what I need and what would serve me best, I take it. Often the reason I'm sick is because of work in the first place, stressing me out and taking all my energy. And while sick, my free time (evenings and weekends) goes towards recovery, so that I can work. But that time should be mine. So, if I feel that a day off is what it would take to restore my health and cut an illness short, I go for it.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:29 AM on October 28, 2015 [10 favorites]

The rules at my children's school, for reference, are:

* Fever of 100 degrees or higher
* Vomiting and/or diarrhea
* Green snots
* Pain or malaise serious enough to interfere with learning

That last one is subjective, of course. For the work world, I'd say "if you're going to be below 60-75% productivity, better to stay home and get some rest."
posted by KathrynT at 8:30 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

These vary a lot based on your workplace, but in general, I stay home (and want my team to stay home) when:

1) You're obviously contagious. e.g. influenza, streaming cold, norovirus.

2) You're physically sick in a way that is incompatible with accomplishing what you need to do (e.g. stomach bug keeping you in the bathroom, or lost voice when you will be talking).

3) You're feeling crappy, you'd rather rest, and the items on your schedule are amenable to being moved.

1 and 2 are non-negotiable. 3 varies depending on the level of sick, the level of work, how many other days you've taken off recently, and whether you expect to need additional sick days.
posted by pie ninja at 8:31 AM on October 28, 2015 [11 favorites]

If you're not sure, take the day, because you're probably contagious. Especially if your work that day would require you to be in an enclosed space with a lot of people.
posted by Etrigan at 8:36 AM on October 28, 2015 [3 favorites]

1) if you would need prescription-only medicine to function at the baseline level of your job and don't yet have it, necessitating a visit to a doctor: do not go to work

2) if you would need prescription-only medicine to get to work, and don't yet have it, necessitating a visit to a doctor: do not go to work

3) essentially any other medical or health-related reason that requires more self-care than your job that day would allow: do not go to work

4) if your symptoms make you a disease vector: do not go to work

The calculus is variable for me as a teacher: On a day when I'm teaching one class at a remote site with only five students but have a killer migraine? It's easier to work that day - plan and print my materials at home, go directly to the classroom, teach, and then go straight home - than to work a full eight-hour day with a runny nose and a chest cough and with three back-to-back classes of 20+ students each, loads of sitting at my desk and doing paperwork, and dealing with e-mail and meetings.

Also consider that by going in, you are exposing yourself to additional pathogens. Staying home keeps you away from the communal biome of your office.
posted by mdonley at 8:36 AM on October 28, 2015

You're a grad student, correct? If so, I'd err on the side of staying home more than I would if I had a 'regular' job.

I'd probably stagger in doped up on cold meds if I had to teach a class (because it would be hard to find a last minute replacement) unless I lost my voice. If I had to meet with the public, I'd offer to reschedule if I was contagious.

Otherwise, I'd do phone calls from home, and cancel/reschedule meetings with my supervisor and lab mates for pretty slight illnesses. My work is pretty easy to transition to home (remote desktop!) and sometimes I just don't want to wear real clothes.
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:55 AM on October 28, 2015

If I'm contagious, I stay home. I have sick leave but some of my coworkers don't--they would appreciate it if I did not infect them, forcing them to miss work and go unpaid.

I'm I'm feeling really run-down or otherwise non-contagiously ill--bad allergies, bad headache, etc.--if I have no obligations (meetings, training, deadline, etc.), I stay home (see generous sick leave policy above) because I could feel bad at work and get almost nothing done or feel bad at home and get nothing done, and I'd rather be home with the cats.

I also get migraines, and have to balance a complex set of mental equations in the morning as to whether I should go in or stay home. For example, insomnia for a couple of nights is often a precursor to a migraine (whether cause or symptom I don't know), so I have to guess whether or not it's better for me to stay home and nap or just go in. Tension headaches can trigger migraines, so do I stay home and take meds to avoid one, or do I go to work and risk one? My obligations that day also factor in here. Sometimes I get to compromise and work from home, which allows me to easily quit if a migraine blossoms.
posted by telophase at 9:03 AM on October 28, 2015

Another vote for contagious.

Otherwise, anything non-functional ("lost my voice"), or a loud and unsurpressable cough-sneeze-wheez-y type of urge that potentially grates on others' nerves.

Also, typical fever-ache-induced low-performance stuff: it's misery in any case, but also, the mistakes and oversights that occur in the wake of an oncoming (maybe not even fully detected) flu are a total waste of everyone's time and energy. Better in bed...
posted by Namlit at 9:04 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm horrible about this because my sick days eat into my meager vacation time. I usually work from home if I think I'm contagious and I'll call out if I'm so sick I won't get work done.
posted by hrj at 9:14 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

when it merits just sucking it up and hauling yourself in

Everybody else covered the physical stuff pretty well so I'll just address "sucking it up." It's awful how much we worry about perceptions at work, and one of the worst lines is that grey area where we feel sick but not sick enough to not do anything so we feel some kind of pressure or obligation to carry through. The flip side of that perception is that you may work with people with chronic illnesses, short or long term health problems, pregnancy, or other conditions that may require more sick time, doctor's visits, etc. When as employees we "soldier on" through illness we may unknowingly contribute to an atmosphere of "sucking it up" and as a result may make it harder for those employees or more visible. (Or even put them at risk.)

The previous answers covered the physical considerations pretty well. But when I'm in that grey area, I also ask myself about the value of sucking it up. It may actually be that I am too sick to go to work but I'm feeling that pressure to suck it up so I'm downgrading my illness. Maybe I should suck it up because I'm just not that sick, or I've got a really important meeting in the morning but then I can go home. Or yeah, maybe I could be 50% productive, but could I be just as productive at home, or is a day's rest the difference between being productive the rest of the week or only being fully productive on Friday?

So when I'm unsure, and consider the physical considerations like being contagious, I also consider the value of toughing it out that day. Sometimes I do need to suck it up because it's not that bad. But if I'm toughing it out just to be tough than there's no real value in it, and may even cost not only myself but my coworkers.

(I know that different sick leave policies, hourly pay, and other shitty factors may make things not so much a choice for some people as it is for others.)
posted by barchan at 9:17 AM on October 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

Another way that I look at it is, typical US workplaces give workers 5-10 sick days per year. I'm a pretty healthy person, so I can figure that a typical workplace assumes I'll be home ill about 3-6 times per year. If I feel as bad as I've felt in 4-6 months, I stay home.

And agreed with the comments on contagiousness. I have a colleague with asthma. If she gets my "want to be cozy in bed but 60% functional" cold, she's in the ER and not able to climb stairs for a week. So being likely to be contagious definitely swings my pendulum towards "stay home".

As far as "important" stuff, I do try to think through the consequences. Most of the stuff you describe can be done tomorrow or next week or maybe over email. When I was at a big conference in my field with my stupid travel-induced queasiness that always happens, I gritted my teeth and socialized as much as I could. And I can't think of a time that I've thought poorly of someone for cancelling a meeting due to illness.
posted by tchemgrrl at 9:28 AM on October 28, 2015

I think another thing to be aware of is your body's response to different ways of handling illness. For example, I know that if I tough it out at work during a horrible cold or flu, leaving aside considerations of contagion*, I am much more likely to feel sick longer.

*Many of my colleagues are of the "tough it out" breed which means that we are constantly passing around the same cold in the office.
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:34 AM on October 28, 2015

I try to go by contagious, mostly. As tchemgrrl noted above, one person can be sick with a contagious cold that isn't too bad, symptom-wise - but a colleague who catches that cold and has other ongoing health issues might be knocked flat by the same thing for a week.

I went through a few months while I was working an office job and both of my parents were going through various pieces of cancer treatment. I felt really mad when co-workers came in sick during that time and "toughed it out", because if I caught what they had, I probably would have still been 60% functional myself, but it meant I could not go see my sick parents because I couldn't possibly risk infecting them in any way. That sucked. Because of that experience especially, I am very inclined to stay home versus come into work if there's any chance that what I have is contagious.
posted by augustimagination at 9:36 AM on October 28, 2015 [7 favorites]

Just want to add that being told to go home is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we are not the best judge of how poorly we are doing, and we need a coworker to (kindly) say "You look like hell, what are you doing here?" before it sinks in. I'd say that in my 20+ years of trying to decide if I should call in sick, I've been 100% sure of my decision maybe 10% of the time. It's almost always a fine line, and it's perfectly reasonable to land on the wrong side of it once in a while.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:37 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

My personal policy matches what others have already said:

1. I'm sick enough that I could get others sick.

2. I'm psychically or mentally wiped such that a rest day would increase productivity in the long run, without providing a major inconvenience to the office. I might consider in this case if it's a rare situation would cause others to be seriously less productive or disadvantaged (which probably doesn't happen as much as we think it might).

What gives us pause on number two is that we tend to have more stringent expectations of ourselves, which are in large part a byproduct of work environments that weren't very employee friendly (and might have, in the past, expected us to work while not feeling good). Also, in large part because of this, we worry about the opinions of our coworkers and bosses.

What helps me with those are knowing that 1) "sick days" are generally left vague in an HR description to leave the interpretation up to the worker, and 2) it's actually illegal in many states to retaliate against a worker for taking sick days that have been given as part of the work contract to use at their discretion.

Despite the legality of it, some places might still give push-back. But if you aren't discerning this, and you aren't taking a week of sick time out of every month just to recuperate, I don't think you have to worry about legal or social consequences. Most places are getting on board with sick time being a feature of the job contract that should be left up to the discretion of the worker.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:46 AM on October 28, 2015

My husband is a manager at a company where most employees can probably work from home most days. He hates it when people come in to work sick. I have heard him complain several times about people coming to work even though they're visibly sick. I don't think I've ever heard him say, wow, it was so great that that person came to work even though they were sick.
posted by kat518 at 9:47 AM on October 28, 2015 [6 favorites]

I come to work unless I am running a fever of 99 degrees Fahrenheit or above. (I know the official definition of fever is 100, but I'm pretty sure my normal temperature runs a little low, and I will start shaking and wanting to sleep all day around 99.)

I am learning from this thread, though, that my level of "soldiering on through chronic illness" borders on the ridiculous side: there might be four weeks in a given year where I'm in my office feeling miserable, hitting the rescue inhaler, and eating cough drops nonstop.
posted by yarntheory at 9:49 AM on October 28, 2015

It depends on how functional I am with physical or medical assistance. What I mean is:

* Say I have a cold, but I'm well stocked up on cold medication that has pseudoephedrine, and the occasional cough drop is soothing my throat; so the only evidence I have a cold is that I get a little stuffy when it's about time for a dose, and I give a couple of really loud sneezes here and there. I'm sick, but manageably so. I'd go in to work, but I'd be sure to bring the decongestant.

* However, if I have a cold but it's really nasty and the Sudafed ain't doin' squat, and the congestion is so bad that I'm getting occasional dizzy spells (this is a thing that has happened to me), then I'd go home, because otherwise I'd be sitting at my desk going cross-eyed and that's not good for anyone.

* Today I am at work, and I am on the tail end of recovery with a sprained ankle. I chose to come to work because my ankle is better than it was this Saturday, when it first happened; the pain is under control with ibuprofen; and because I work sitting at a desk and don't do too much walking anyway. I've been keeping sitting a bit more than usual, and I've been wearing slightly more comfortable shoes than I would, but those are the only things I needed to do to "correct for" my ankle, and that was easy to do so I came in.

* If, however, it was four days since my ankle got sprained and my ankle was still swollen and painful, and the at-home treatment wasn't having any impact, or if I had to walk a lot, that would be a time when I would stay home and rest more, or be calling my doctor.

* Coincidentally, I've actually done that very thing ("hey, my sprain isn't getting any better, I'mma take a sick day....") and learned that my sprain was actually a break, and I was going to need to be in a cast for two months. In that case, I had a talk with my boss on how to adapt - they gave me time off for all the checkups and appointments and physical therapy appointments as I got them, they relaxed the rules when it came to what time I arrived and what time I left each day (struggling on the subway with a broken foot meant that sometimes I didn't get in QUITE at 9 am....), and they made sure that there was a footstool at my desk. I kept up my own end of the bargain by coming in rather than taking leave.

that's a very long-winded way of explaining my point, which is - that if a cheap over-the-counter medication won't relieve your symptoms temporarily, that may be a sign you should stay home, or figure something out with your boss. But if a Sudafed or an Alleve takes care of you for four hours and you feel better, you may be okay going in.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:24 AM on October 28, 2015

If my being out of the office won't inconvenience anyone, I err on the side of staying home. I find that if I stay home and rest the first day I start feeling sick, I am often able to avoid the cold/illness entirely, which make me overall way more productive. I sometime work from home - it depends on how much work I have to get done and whether it can efficiently be done from home.

If my being out of the office will be an inconvenience (in that I'd miss a meeting, need to reschedule a client, etc.), I tend to go in unless I am truly too sick to work or might be contagious. I'll also frequently work a part day in that situation, so I can be in the office for the meeting but then go home early to rest and recover.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:42 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

As a manager, please, by all that's holy, if you're contagious, stay home. Don't infect other people. You might be okay and able to soldier through and be productive… but your coworkers might not have the same robust immune system, or they might be caring for people with compromised immune systems.
posted by culfinglin at 10:45 AM on October 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

I stay home if I can answer "yes" to any of the below:

1. Does the commute to work just seem too exhausting to handle?
2. Do I have any unmanageable symptoms that would either interrupt my work or bother any coworkers within earshot, e.g. coughing fits?
3. Do I need to be within sprinting distance of a toilet?
4. Am I likely to have trouble focusing on basic tasks despite my best efforts?
5. Do I outwardly appear sick? (This is kind of like leftovers smelling bad: its presence is a definite bad sign, but its absence is not an all-clear)
6. Am I likely to feel worse as the day goes on?
7. If I had the chance to go to [social event/restaurant/other fun not-work thing] today, would I feel ill enough to cancel?

I will also call in sick if I feel functional but suspect that resting immediately will prevent my illness from dragging on or getting worse.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:16 AM on October 28, 2015 [4 favorites]

I have three things that will cause me to stay home: 1) If I have messy symptoms that will spread germs... coughing or throwing up, 2) I have a high fever, or 3) I need strong paid medication which will impair my judgment.
posted by LilithSilver at 1:17 PM on October 28, 2015

This is fascinating because my experience has been completely opposite to what everyone here has posted.

If you can fake that you are functioning, you had better go in. You don't go in only if it will be clear that you are slumped over your machine unable to work, or if you can't make it in to work in the first place. Most managers would prefer to see you sitting there too ill to function than not to see you, because that way they know you are really sick and not just lying to get an impromptu day, but on the other hand, they will be pissed at you if you go in but don't work.

You go to work even if to make it in you have to use a taxi to get there and to get back which eats up the take home wages you would net from the shift, so that in effect you are working the day unpaid.

If you take five sick days - sick days are unpaid, of course - you have taken the maximum you can take without making your manager annoyed at you. Six to ten within a single year and you can assume they will lay you off. Your fifth day off sick you might as well bring a doctor's note because you will surely be asked for one. I've met several managers who had a policy that every absence for illness had to come with a doctor's note.

It is best not to take a second day off sick immediately following a first day off sick, as that will immediately require a doctor's note and annoy the manager.

I have worked with coworkers who paused every twenty minutes or so to dry heave into a plastic bag because they were unable to keep even liquids down. I have worked with co-workers who had surgery on Monday and were back to work by Thursday, although they had a doctor's note suggesting at least six weeks off work. I have worked with co-workers who have passed out, and others who have needed to be driven home so somebody could help them into the building. This was considered an average commitment to the job. The guy that brought his dialysis machine in to work to run it while he work on the midnight shifts was seen as making a greater than average commitment to the job. He was a good employee.

It is especially dangerous to your employability if you take a sick day on a Monday or a Friday if you work regular weeks, or the first or last day of your rotation, if you work shifts, as the assumption will be that you are not sick, or that you are hung over.

If your symptoms resemble being hung over your manager will assume you are hungover. So it is very helpful when your illness involves lots of nasal mucus or coughing. Fevers, migraines or gastric problems will often be taken as evidence that you were ill because of binge drinking.

One place I worked based bonuses on how many sick days you took. If you took all your sick days (10) you were not eligible for a bonus. If you took four sick days in a year, you were eligible for half your bonus. (The bonus itself was actually based on unpaid volunteer work that we were requested to do, and added up to less than minimum wage.)

The head manager at this place specifically stated that she expect most of her staff to take no sick days whatsoever.

These jobs were call center and other shift work jobs where they deliberately scheduled the minimum number of staff members that could do the job, so if things got busier than expected or if someone called in sick or quit, or got called off the floor to talk to a manager it meant that your co-workers would have over-rings or missed calls or that the scheduled production quota would be missed. Some of them paid a premium over minimum wage as they represented themselves as quality places to work who attracted a better quality of employee.

I suspect that all the people who answer above are working at jobs that grant a different level of status to the workers, than the lower level jobs.

The same rules were in place at the High School (with an IB program that my kids attended.) A few of their teachers got notably punitive because of missed days.
posted by Jane the Brown at 1:41 PM on October 28, 2015 [7 favorites]

Oh, I should mention I have several times seen my co-workers lying on the floor during their breaks because they are sick enough they need to lie down. Co-workers who needed to sleep during their breaks on the overnight shift would nap sitting up.
posted by Jane the Brown at 1:45 PM on October 28, 2015

Since your boss sent you home with laryngitis, it sounds like, unlike Jane the Brown's past bosses (how awful, Jane the Brown!), your boss supports their employees in their pursuit of health, long-term productivity, and good morale.

I'd agree with most posters above. The only time I'd go in (if so unwell as to lose one or more relevant functions and not contagious) is if a meeting is both *very important*, time-sensitive, and otherwise near-impossible to arrange, in terms of scheduling.

I can't think of a group activity in which the group would benefit from an ailing facilitator. If you're supposed to be teaching, email them as soon as you know you can't make it, with either an alternate activity (if that's feasible or possible), or with an indication of when they might get a later update with concrete details about a postponement, if you don't know when that would be right then.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:33 PM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Jane the Brown, I feel for you and your co-workers! The only time I've been in a job that comes close to that was my six months in restaurant work, where they required a doctor's note for any missed work and you were expected to come in even if you were throwing up, which makes NO SENSE from a contagion-containment point of a view, but every bit of sense from a spend-as-little-as-possible point of view.

At my current job, my decision as to whether or not to come in makes it easier to err on the side of caution, given that my boss has called off sick due to allergy attacks and insomnia before. It goes a long way to explain why I have no plans to leave this place if I don't have to.
posted by telophase at 2:50 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Back when I worked in the retail and food service industries, I absolutely experienced the kind of sick day "culture" that Jane the Brown eloquently describes.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:53 PM on October 28, 2015

Over the years I have witnessed so many of my colleagues come in sick, continue to come to work sick every day, and have their illnesses linger for two or three weeks. And get the rest of the office sick to boot.

Based on that I developed my own policy of staying home on the very first day that I'm not feeling well. And I force myself to stay in bed, sleep if I can, read a bit if I can't sleep, eat chicken soup and megadoses of vitamin C. If I slept all the day the first day, I may take the second day off as well. Generally speaking I'm feeling well enough to go to work by the third day. If I slept all day again on day 2, I would probably take day 3 off as well.

I take a lot of multivitamins, eat pretty well, get a good amount of sleep, and wash my hands frequently, so, again generally speaking I don't get sick too often. Which is why I don't feel guilty taking time off when I do. The year I was the sickest in recent memory was the year that I was sleep deprived due to being a new parent. As soon as kiddo started sleeping well and I in turn started sleeping well, I stopped getting sick.

I've had a couple of managers who labeled me "unreliable" for taking sick days (those were of the ilk of coming in sick and getting the rest of us sick) and managers who thanked me for staying home when I called in. I quit the jobs pretty early on where the managers tried to make me feel guilty for taking care of myself. Boundaries.
posted by vignettist at 3:26 PM on October 28, 2015

I should add that I'm an academic, and when I mentioned to one of my coworkers that people in normal office jobs apparently stay home when they have a cold & are contagious, she laughed in bitter disbelief.
posted by yarntheory at 3:27 PM on October 28, 2015

Academic here too, and I stay home if I know I won't get quality work done that day. If I have a fever at all I stay home. I've learned to build in some buffer days in my classes where I can shift topics over or substitute a take-home activity, so I don't worry about it so much anymore. My staying home when sick is helping to model work-life balance for students, IMO, so it's a good thing.
posted by bizzyb at 4:14 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a long commute (50-60 minutes each way), so I decide to stay home if I am afraid I'll be a danger to others on the road. Luckily, this doesn't happen very often and my work is such that I can.
posted by umwhat at 5:49 PM on October 28, 2015

It varies so much with the workplace.

My rule now is that in addition to not working when I'm genuinely sick, I work at home if I have anything going on that will make others uncomfortable (sneezing, rashes/hives, or laryngitis -- this one is ironic, as I lose my voice fairly regularly with no other symptoms, but it freaks people out, so I stay home when it happens.) Presentation counts in my job, and I would lose more points for being gross than I would gain for showing up. But nobody is counting my sick days, and my metrics relate to my work, not my attendance. It's different if attendance is a goal in itself.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:49 PM on October 28, 2015

One of my first bosses told me that he always figured "sick" days we're just as good for going fishing as for being sick. One of my more recent bosses told his employees that if we were just sneezing and coughing we should still come in and only use sick days "when it's really bad." I'm sure you can guess which boss had a better employee retention rate.

I don't use sick days for fishing, but I've used them for days when I'm very sad, extra grumpy, when my dog is sick, when I'm disheartened with life and other similar circumstances. Taking a sick day for these reasons, help me remain productive and enthusiastic about my job.

Conversely, I would not take a sick day when there is a deadline or project at work that really needs doing.
posted by mulcahy at 6:32 PM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Moral of the story: whether or not to take sick days depends on how badly off you are, your office culture, and how much you can/will get penalized for doing so, YMMV.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:58 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]

Where I work, you show up if you are physically able to do your job and can in any way feign a better condition - it's customer facing, so if you have symptoms you absolutely cannot minimize with medication or disguise, you have little choice in the matter but to stay home. But you're expected to absolutely everything in your power to reduce or hide your symptoms and push through the day until you're done.

My last job was actually more strict about showing up, but less strict about performance - your butt MUST be in the chair at all costs unless you're actually dying in a hospital bed, but it's perfectly fine if you're useless, to the point where people would nap at their desk or even in a designated sickroom and catch no flack for it whatsoever. Even if that meant you were useless at work for 4 days when you would have stayed home for 1 and gotten better otherwise, management preferred to see butts in seats no matter how unproductive. The worst thing you could ever have on your record there was a non-preapproved absence.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 1:54 AM on October 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think this depends a lot on your job.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 2:17 AM on October 29, 2015

I had a teacher many years back who advised his class to come to class when they were sick, because they might just as well be miserable in class as miserable at home and even if we only retained 2% of what was covered in class it was better than missing it all together. Take your sick days, he went on to say, when you wake up energetic and enthusiastic, there is a brisk breeze blowing and the leaves are skipping down the street, and you feel like playing hooky.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:17 AM on October 29, 2015

An aside, but hopefully not too off-topic: I just yesterday came across the fact that, in Estonian, the word for 'sick days' is basically 'health days' ('tervisepäevad'), which makes them sound like a much better thing to be taking - something that will keep you healthier and make you more productive in the long term, rather than a sign that you're copping out.
posted by penguin pie at 7:08 AM on October 29, 2015

This depends on you job and time off allowances. I get 10 days total for sick, personal, and vacation time, so I only call out if I throw up or have diarheaa more than 2 times in the morning before going in. If the manager doesn't want me coming in and spreading germs, they can fix it by being less stingy with their PTO allotments. I'v had the same experiences as Jane the Brown.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:52 AM on October 29, 2015

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