How to Determine if You're too Sick to go to Work

Cold and flu season is sneaking up fast. Not only is being sick just plain miserable, it can be hard to know what to do about work. That’s especially true if you don’t get paid if you don’t show up, or if your boss is the type that expects you to show up even if you have the plague. Keep reading for some common-sense tips for knowing when to stay home:

You have vomiting or diarrhea

Even people who are the polar opposite of germaphobic run screaming when it comes to stomach bugs. Its one illness nobody wants. If you’re vomiting or have diarrhea, even if you think it’s from food poisoning, stay home. Even if it’s not contagious, everybody will be mad at you for coming to work and possibly exposing them.

You have violent, constant coughing

Whether it’s because you’ll risk exposing everyone or it’s just downright annoying, keep violent coughing out of the workplace. Even if it’s from allergies or something else that’s not infectious, it’ll creep everybody out. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that, for a lot of people, constant coughing is like nails on a chalkboard.

You know what you have, and you know it’s contagious

Whether it’s because your kids have been sick or you went to the doctor yourself, you know what’s making you feel so crummy. Maybe it’s the flu, or strep throat, or pink eye. Regardless of the cause, stay home. If you have a bacterial infection, it’s usually safe to come to work after you’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours. If it’s a viral infection, ask your doctor.

You work where it’s imperative to be on your game…and you’re not

If you’re a teacher, it’s probably not catastrophic if you’re off your game for one day. The same is probably true if you work in retail, marketing, customer service, etc. But if you’re a surgeon, or an airline pilot, or a lawyer defending someone for capital murder, it can be pretty catastrophic to the person on the receiving end of your temporary incompetence. If you’re in an occupation where there’s little to no room for error, don’t risk it. Stay home when you know you’re not at your best.

Your workplace isn’t sick-friendly

There are lots of reasons a workplace may not be sick-friendly. Maybe you work with people who have depressed immune systems, like patients in a cancer ward or a children’s hospital. Maybe you’re cooking or serving food. Maybe you have a job where you’re in close physical proximity to your customers – at a nail salon, for instance. Or maybe you just work in a factory or other environment where you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with other workers and have limited access to the bathroom and/or your medication. If you’re dealing with extraordinary circumstances that make it a really bad idea to go in sick, whatever the reason, stay at home.

Deciding to stay home sick can be hard, especially if you know you won’t get paid, or that your absence will put a burden on everybody else. But sometimes it’s the right thing to do. If the quality of your work will suffer, or if you’re likely to infect either the general public or other employees, the best choice is to curl up at home with hot tea and your favorite book or TV show. The world can rotate without you for a day or two.

image: flickr




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