Sunday, January 23, 2011

Being Sick in the Workplace

by In Transition Working Girl

I am in week two of my new job, I am loving every minute of it and my workaholic ways have returned. I have already turned in several 11+hr days and am so happy to be stimulated again!

That being said as I was filling out my new hire information and learning about the work policies, it got me thinking about sick time and how to handle it, so I thought I would open the discussion up on Working Girl. How do you handle being a working girl and getting sick? Do you call in? try to pull through?

In my opinion there are really two schools of thought. One, you call in the moment you aren't feeling well or two, you show up to work until someone notices how sick you are and sends you home. I feel from my experiences rarely is there a third when its somewhere in between.

For me personally I am guilty of working until I get sent home. I feel there are so many people in the work place that take sick days often and without merit many times, but I want my employers to KNOW I am sick. Bad thinking? For me I feel it shows dedication to my employer and they know that if there ever is a day where I am sicker than a dog-I must be telling the truth! Is seeing really believing? Its a little weird to be forced to go home, mentally it makes me feel better having them acknowledge it rather then question me.

On the flip side though, I know that I get annoyed when people come in coughing all over me so if I am really not feeling well I try to let my boss get the hint early in the day.

This is just how I personally handle the situation-What is your take on sick days? Do you call in or wait to be sent home?


LaNeshe said...

I think it depends on what's happening at work. If we are in the middle of a big project, I will come in, and try to work as long as I can, or until I am sent home. We have a small staff, so usually we try to avoid anyone getting everybody else sick. If we are in a slow period, I won't mind just calling out in the morning. A lot of times I'll call out but still check e-mail and correspond throughout the day.

Chicago Career Girl said...

From my perspective, if you are sick, stay home. You aren't any use to the company if you come in, and you're in danger of getting other people sick as well. As a boss, I'd much rather have someone call in sick for 1-2 days and really focus on getting better than come in all week and be 50% on the job. As long as you're not abusing the system, that's what sick days are for.

Me said...

I think the third "in between" strategy is to go in and determine if being at work, makes you feel worse than lying in bed and then deciding to go home sick. I'm also a go to work until I get sent home because for me not showing will equal double workload for whoever I'm working with that day. I have from time to time gone home as soon as my work is done when I'm feeling crumy

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I don't take sick days because I only get one sick day per academic term at the schools where I teach; any more than that and I have to find a sub and lose money as a result. Besides, if the teacher isn't there then there is no class, so the students end up missing out too (although I'm sure they wouldn't mind a cancelled class). Fortunately, I rarely get sick. That's why it bothers me if students miss several classes in a row because they claim that they're sick. It's okay if they really are, but more often than not I'll see some of them hanging out on campus with their friends on their so-called sick days.

Funny about Money said...

I just hate it when people show up at the office or in class sick as dogs. My secretary used to do that. It would drive me nuts. She'd sit there hacking and snorting and urping, and even when I'd suggest that if she'd go home, I'd be quiet about her not being there (so she wouldn't lose sick-leave days, which we all received in gay profusion), she'd refuse to leave. All the while, she was exposing everyone in the office to whatever she had, including a young mother who was recovering from surgery for a brain tumor.

For cryin' out loud, if you're sick, STAY HOME!

These post-layoff days, I'm in the same bind as Neurotic Workaholic: underpaid adjunct faculty don't get sick leave. If I cut a class, my pay is docked -- if anyone finds out about it.

What I plan to do when I get sick is bribe one of my privately hired TAs (I pay them out of my pocket to grade papers, so that I can take on more classes than any normal human being would contemplate) to stand in for me.

When I taught f/t at a state university, I used the online course management system to mount coursework the students could do if I was going to have to be absent. You can easily create lessons that occupy as much time as students would spend in class, and quite possibly do them more good than spending the same amount of time in the classroom.

But even if I couldn't do that, I'd rather lose a day's pay than expose 50 students to some bug.

Meanwhile, folks, please: get a flu shot. It doesn't hurt, it's cheap, and it goes a long way toward cutting those sick days.

Brittany said...

I am definitely a person who works until someone forces me to leave. However, I did that at my current job the first time I got sick. I think they know I don't fake being sick. On that note, (I am the only attorney in my office and the rest are secretaries) people call in sick ALL the time and claim it's because they don't want to make everyone else sick. I don't know if they are faking it or not, but I've started calling in if I don't feel well because no one seems to care. When I start working in a law office with other lawyers again I will go back to not calling in sick.

Jaxie Fantastic said...

It's rare that I call in sick. My company is really flexible about working from home, so I usually do that. Everyone at my company has a company laptop, so if I'm not feeling well I'll usually sign on from home instead of going in to the office. I'm not quite as productive, but at least I'm not getting everyone else sick.
I feel like some people in my office abuse this flexibility... I don't actually like working from home, so I don't feel like I abuse it. :)

Rebekah said...

I work at a newspaper, so deadlines happen throughout the day every day. They say they want us to stay home if we're sick, but I don't really believe them. I've called in once, and I got the impression the supervisor did not approve. So since then, I've been much sicker, and I just worked through it. And no one sends us home.

If I'm not there, news still happens, and someone has to get the paper out. Which means that someone else gets called in on a day off. And it messes up the day for that whole family. Since we work 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., the people with children absolutely live for the days they have off so they can spend time with them. When it's that moment of choice when I have to decide whether I want to make the call and know I'm being questioned and talked about (because when I was called in on a day off, I could hear the supervisor rolling his eyes) or just go get in the shower and pump DayQuil in, I usually pick the shower. This too shall pass. It just means the newspaper will have very uncreative headlines and slightly more grammatical errors than usual for a couple of days.

As far as exposing coworkers -- if they don't want us to come in sick, they shouldn't make us feel guilty when we try to stay home. But I am really careful about cleaning surfaces and keeping my hands clean.

Angeline said...

If it's just barely a sniffle, I'll come in. Usually that gives my boss (and others) a heads up that I'm coming down with something. But since I'm salaried and often work more than 8 hours a day, I don't feel guilty about coming in sick at all. If there is something pressing that's due that day or the next, I'll usually try to work from home just to finish that one task and take a sick day the rest of the day. But I don't feel obligated to go intot he office.

The only time I was sent home "sick" was when I had a terrible reaction to a spider bite. It wasn't contagious, but I did end up taking two sick days to recover from it (couldn't walk).

Nicole said...

Totally better to actually go to the office when you're sick. Make sure not to wear any make up too that way every one will be able to witness your sickness. When we get a sick call from someone at my office, majority of the time there is water cooler talk about how it's probably a lie. Unless it really is, then make sure to have a scratchy voice and sneeze.

Angeline said...

^^ Oops, just realized there's a major typo in my comment.

Instead of "I don't feel guilty about coming in sick at all" I meant "I don't feel guilty about CALLING in sick at all." Big diff.

Alyssa said...

It depends on how sick I am. If I just have a headache or slight sore throat, I generally go in. If I think it's a little worse, and don't want to expose anyone to it, I'll work from home. But if I really can't handle dealing with people and feel really bad, I take the sick day. It's been my experience that trying to plow on through only makes things worse and I'm sick for longer. Usually a day of rest or sometimes even just a good long nap helps and I'm back to normal the next day.

In Transition Working Girl said...

I loved hearing all your comments Working Girls! Thanks for sharing-there are so many sides to this coin-literally!

Kelly O said...

I try very hard to only call in sick if I'm truly sick - running a fever is usually my way of determining if I need to be there or not. I do have seasonal allergies, so there are times I'm sniffling and sneezing but am not really "sick" - just dealing with those seasonal things.

As the mother of a small child, I do have to admit I get kind of frustrated when someone comes in sick and the next thing I know, I have to go get my daughter from daycare because she's got the stomach flu (even if it missed me, I feel like I've passed it on to her.) So, I can't come in with a sick child, meaning I have to stay home with her.

It's hard to decide if you're contagious or not, but I do appreciate it when someone says "hey, I'm sick so I'll hole up in my office/cubicle and try to avoid contaminating everything in the office." It at least gives me the opportunity to wash my hands a few extra times that day, or hit the Purell more frequently. Even if I don't get the bug, I can avoid passing it on to my family.

lauralou said...

I am a strong believer in staying home when you are sick. My intern likes to stay home at the end of the sickness, after she's already infected the office. I definitely got it from her the last time, and just in time for the weekend! My dad has cancer, and if I get sick, I can't visit him. I have made this very clear to my co-workers, and regularly get frustrated that they ignore my request. We have generous sick time and none of us will be missed for a day or two. Yes, it might suck to have to pick up the slack for someone else, but I'd much rather do that than be sick myself.

Rachel said...

Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa ( may be another choice. i know alot of people use it, its also non alcoholic, though it's effectiveness is not as good as alcohol based cough medicine, but it's still good to use on not so serious sore throat.

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Ridley said...

My former job were ridiculous about sick days. They would all but accuse you of lying - even if you had the flu. My current company is a lot more sensible. I decided to stay home sick today because last time I went in with a cold I infected most of the office.

Still feel guilty about it though... have this bizarre thing that getting ill feels like a personal failing.

Chronically Ill Working Girl said...

It depends on whether I have sick time or not. I recently discovered the cause of my near-constant illness, but I have not yet built up enough sick time to take off an entire day. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which made it extremely difficult to work at all some days, before discovering my likely celiac disease. In the future, once I have some sick days available, I'll probably call off if I'm feeling awful. It would take more than a slight cold though because I have severe year-round environmental allergies (indoor and outdoor) and it's hard to tell the difference. I do my best not to contaminate anyone else when I go in sick because I remember what it was like to get sick and not be able to visit my grandmother as she was dying of cancer. I've gone in hoping to be sent home sick before, but I've found that if I'm sick enough to hope to be sent home, I probably should have called off in the first place.

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