Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When to Use a Sick Day

(Disclaimer: Possible content overlap between this post and one I wrote on April 26, 2007.)

I took a sick day today because I started feeling the onset of a cold last night, which continued this morning. But now, a few hours later, I actually feel pretty good. Should I have taken the sick day in the first place?

Well, let's analyze. Lots of factors at play here. Let's start with what I think is the #1 reason to use a sick day, at least from the company's perspective:

You don't want to get the rest of the office sick, do you? Of course not, especially considering that one of my co-workers is seven months pregnant. But the thing is, studies have shown that one is capable of passing the common cold on to others for a full TWO WEEKS (source). Needless to say, I'm not going to take two weeks off from work for a common cold. And, I may have already gotten the rest of the office sick when I was there yesterday. Staying away from work when you're contagious simply isn't practical. But I think taking one sick day in the middle of common cold, when symptoms are at their worst (as they were this morning) and the cold is most contagious, is reasonable. Maybe two sick days if the cold is bad enough, which this one isn't.

How much sick leave does your company give you? I get 10 days a year, it rolls over from year-to-year with no upper limit, and I can't cash it out when I leave. This policy allows me to carry a rather large balance of sick leave, and it encourages rather liberal use of sick leave, which I think is sort of the idea. If you're sick, stay away. Contrast that to the company where Amber works: five days a year, no rollover. If that was my company's policy, then I probably would have gone to work today. (Unless it was December and I had at least two days of sick leave left for the year.)

Any looming deadlines at the office? Not today. I guess if it came down to it, going back to reason #1, I could work from home if I absolutely had to get something out the door today. But most of the time, an unplanned day off won't create too much of a problem with respect to the work.

How sick are you, really? Well...tough question to answer. I'm not exactly bedridden here. I can get up and do stuff, and I could have at least had a somewhat productive day at work had I gone in. But going back to the top two reasons, company policy encourages us to stay home on a day such as today. Regardless, I'll feel better tomorrow by staying home and resting today than I would had I gone to work. In theory.

Speaking of which...I can't say I feel "pretty good" anymore like I did when I started typing this, so I should probably get away from the computer and get back to bed.


Maggie said...

I hope you feel better Chris! I too am going back to bed

allen_t said...

When I had the chemist job there was actually no sick days limit. You took off when you sick and that was that. However, taking off was STRONGLY discouraged and people that took too many days (whatever number that was) found themselves without a job.

Spartangoogle said...

My students ask, "Ms. Allen, don't you ever take a day off?" to which I reply that I always take a day in May for the TPC (personal day that we can use up to 6 of our sick days per year for.) They groan. Any germs I might encounter I would have gotten from the students so no reason to stay home to keep from re-infecting them. With retirement looming and 94% pay for unused accumulated days, it'll be money in the bank!