Can't go to work but feel fine - okay to enjoy my sick leave?

A few days ago I badly injured my arm in a fall, as a result of which I have to keep my arm in a sling for at least two weeks, possibly more. It’s my right arm, and I’m right-handed, so I can’t write, can only type slowly with one hand, have trouble with the mouse, and am just very slow at doing the typical office tasks my job requires of me - not to mention typical life tasks like tying my shoes, chopping vegetables, drying myself after a shower, and on and on. Plus, I can’t drive. As you can imagine it’s been hugely frustrating and inconvenient, though I know I’ll eventually heal and get back to normal.

I was going to go back to work right away but given my limitations the two bosses I report to are encouraging me to just use sick leave for the duration of my recovery. (Or at least for two weeks - don’t know how they’d feel if it went beyond that.) It’s slow at work right now, I have tons of sick leave saved up, and they can get my tasks covered. One of them offered to give me her Netflix account so I could catch up on TV shows.

So I’ve been home for the past few days, which feels weird because other than the fact that my arm’s in a sling, I feel perfectly fine. Normally I only miss work if I have a cold or stomach bug or something that makes me want to lie in bed all day sipping hot drinks. But this is not like that at all. Other than a bit of pain if I move my arm a certain way and some grogginess when I take my medicine, I’m good - my legs work, I have energy, and my basic constitution is healthy.

So here’s the question: since I effectively can’t work but feel fine, is it ethically/morally okay for me to enjoy this time by, say, going on a trip? I live in walking distance of a train station; can I head off somewhere for a few days? After all, I might not be able to do office work with only one arm, but I can walk through a museum, sit at a concert, or listen to a tour guide just as easily as I could sit at home…which is what I’d otherwise be doing.

Or is that “wrong,” and should I just stay home and act “sick”- or even insist on going back to work?

What do you think? Poll to come.

Go on on the trip! Life is too short to worry about ethical quandaries like this one. If someone sees you just say you got a burst of cabin fever and had to get out.

The bosses are encouraging you to take sick leave, you have the sick time available, so enjoy! I would avoid doing something like playing tennis or otherwise demonstrating that the injury is fake, but barring that, I’d have no qualms about enjoying the hell out of some surprise time off.

I don’t even see what the issue is. You are not deceiving your bosses; you are on legitimate sick leave and can do whatever is compatible with your injury. I cannot imagine why anyone would feel differently.

I don’t know how it works for you but where I work we can’t cash out sick leave hours at retirement. If I had even the slightest excuse to burn some of the 1500 hours of sick leave I have, I’d jump on it.

Your bosses are wise - you’ve lost a lot of the function of your dominant arm for a period of time. You’d just get frustrated (and annoying) at work not being able to do stuff at normal pace, so just do whatever you can easily do to make the recovery as painless and stress-free as you can. If that involves a few days away relaxing, then good.

Where I have worked, they generally look for a reasonable accommodation for injured employees. Someone in shipping with a bum ankle, for example, would be put at a desk to do paperwork. Generally, they use the pieces of you they can still take advantage of. With your dominant hand not available, you may have no usable pieces for corporate America to have use for you.
If they have told you, in writing, that that’s not an option and they want you to stay home, then go for it. Go do whatever you can without putting yourself at further risk. See a movie, visit friends, have fun.

This is a unique situation. The OP’s employers know he’s been injured and is waiting for it to heal. The OP has a large amount of sick leave accumulated. He’s obviously someone that can be depended on. They’ve said to take the time off.

I see nothing wrong with going to a movie, museum or other quiet activity. Get rested and refreshed before returning to work.

Has the doctors said anything about physical therapy on the arm? The OP may have PT appointments that will require leaving the office for a couple hours. That’s common after an injury has healed to restore range of motion. Make sure your supervisors are aware of that before returning to work.

If you have been transparent with your work, and they told you to stay home in spite of your offer to come to work, and you are using the company-sponsored time-off program within their guidlines, you should be in the free-and-clear.

That said - relating an experience I had on a jury a few years ago: A man was accused of workers comp fraud - he slipped on the job and hurt his back. The prosecution hired someone to follow him around video-ing his activities. He was prescribed a cane while walking, but in some of the video he was not using it. Sometimes he was using it. His activities were stuff like getting out of his car and walking to his church, walking to the grocery store, etc. Not weightlifting and playing golf. Hung jury. In that case it was worker’s comp, not sick leave.

I would enjoy your time off - you are utilizing your company’s paid-time-off program to recover from an injury - you are not cheating. As stated, I would not do anything that could further delay your return, or injur yourself worse - then they would be right to be pissed at you, but otherwise doing the activities you mentioned; no problem IMHO.

Find a short-term job that you can do with just on arm, while you simultaneously collect sick-leave pay.

Ethics? We don’t need no steenkin ethics! :smiley:

Enjoy yourself, but bear in mind that even if you feel fine, your injury will probably heal better and faster if you get plenty of rest. You’ll likely find yourself getting tired a bit more quickly than usual. I’d suggest using that as your guideline, while avoiding anything strenuous. Also, be careful when going anywhere while under the influence of your medication, even though you’re not driving.

I suspect that having some activity will also help you avoid getting bored and/or stir-crazy, so you’re less likely to overexert yourself too soon. So, a mix of minor excursions and resting at home is in order, for the sake of mind and body both.

No, you have to sit around and be miserable, and moan and cry.

WTF, dude?!?! You’re on sick leave because you can’t do anything at work, (in fact, they’d probably rather you stay home so you get well sooner), so take your time and enjoy it! If it makes you feel better, just kind of wince and act like you’re being extra, extra careful with your arm when you’re in public.

Considering that not too many people get sick leave, feel lucky and use it, dammit! Yeesh, Dopers.

Pretty sure it’s not, ace

Typically people on sick leave are expected to stay at home. I worked for an employer that even called to see if an employee was really home sick. Being seen at a restaurant or concert after calling in sick can get someone in serious trouble at work.

This situation is different. Because the employer understands the employee is recovering from an injury. Just like someone recovering from surgery. They aren’t expected to be at home in bed suffering all day. Its understood they aren’t well enough to return to work. But, short outings away from home is beneficial.

In my line it’s real common to be medically unable to work, but healthy enough to fully enjoy a day off or do errands or whatever. Nobody, worker or management, sees any moral dilemma there. Sick time (paid or otherwise) is designed for this scenario.

My advice: Go to the beach, take a trip, repair the car, ride your motorcycle, whatever. Especially since you know management is cool with you doing so.

Just don’t fake your injury or do something while recreating to aggravate it. When you do get back from that awesome wild & crazy Vegas trip, probably best to be a bit discreet about bragging. Your coworkers might think you’re rubbing their nose in it.

OK, was just checking if you knew what “unique” meant. :dubious:

Have an affair with that guy who keeps winking at you in the lobby of your building, why not? You can do that even if you cannot type left handed.

Enjoy your time off, but if you do go on an “expedition” be mindful not to re-injure your arm or aggravate the current injury. As noted, get plenty of rest, it will help you heal. Keep activities low key.

In your position I might go out for a day but I don’t think I’d take a multi-day trip, just for the sake of appearances. Going to a movie, sure, it’s important to maintain your mental as well as physical health.

Yeah, museums, movies, even nights out drinking are fine (as long as the drinking doesn’t lead to more injury, obviously). I’d be a little cautious about a multi-day trip – not saying don’t do it, just make sure that: a) you really are getting enough rest for your arm to heal, and b) it looks low-key enough from the outside that there’s no doubt about the first part. So a two-night trip to NYC to visit museums, go for it (but go slow). Six days whitewater rafting would probably be a bad idea.

I’m sure someone else said it but ------------ if your arm is in a sling you are NOT perfectly fine. Enjoy the time and don’t give it a second thought.