How sick do you have to be to stay home?

Woke up at 5:00 with cramps and chills and by 6:00 e’d work that I would not be in (great thing about e-mail is you don’t have to phone in and do “the sick voice”). Probably could have gotten through the day, but wound up sleeping most of the day, so my body was trying to tell me something. Feeling better enough so that I will go in tomorrow.

Thing is, we have no sick leave, so there goes a vacation day. Plus I have my parents’ “you go to work/school unless you are actually dead” guilt thing going. I am probably not contagious, and tea and biscuits could have gotten me through the workday, I guess, but I just couldn’t do it. Mind you, I don’t actually hate or dread my job, so that’s not it.

How about you?

Ambulance or work.

That was the old days. If I’m coming down with a cold, I stay home so I don’t pass it on the kids I coach.

I know how you feel. I always feel guilty when I call in sick.

I don’t have a hard and fast rule. I’ve gone to work when I’ve felt like crap on a stick, and I’ve called in sick just because I had a poor night’s sleep.

Hope you’re feeling better.

From the thread title and your username, I thought this was going to be another obit, of someone who went to work feeling sick and then died there!

Really depends on what’s going on at work. If it’s a Monday or a Friday, I’m less likely to call in sick-- for one thing, it looks bad, for another, I’m busy. If what’s going on that day is important enough, I’ll come in even if I know I’m probably contagious. Few days are that big in my current role.

On a light day in the middle of the week when I’ve got project work scheduled or something else I can make up over the weekend, I’ve taken sick days as a preventative measure.

Back when I was not self-employed (does happy dance) my metric was whether I was running a significant fever. If I wasn’t I dragged myself to the lab. If I was, even if I felt well enough to make it, I stayed home. When you are in a small team and in close quarters, a contagion can take the entire team out for a couple of days and really mess with the milestones.

I worked from home as well and often got just as much done there as in the lab.

Fever (over 102)? Stay home. Coughing with spittle/mucus/sputum or blowing your nose a lot or sneezing? Stay home. Vomiting? Stay home. Diarrhea? Eh…judgement call. Most diarrhea is from food poisoning, and if your office is close to the bathroom and you promise promise promise to wash your hands like you have OCD, I wouldn’t harsh on you for going to work through that.

I personally have to err on the side of caution; I have immunocompromised patients, and most of them are stable enough to miss an appointment if the risk (getting sick with whatever I have) outweighs the benefit (me making sure they’re okay or teaching them about their chronic hypertension/diabetes/whatever.) Last week I had a blerghy stomach thing. I was pretty darn sure it was something I ate, but not 100% sure. I did go see the patients who need their wound dressings changed every day, but I did wear a mask. I called the patients on chemo and the one on four different prophylactic antibiotics (!) and the one with HIV and, after finding out they were all feeling pretty good and didn’t want another nurse to come by, decided to cancel their appointments.

But in my case, it’s just me and relatively stable patients I’m affecting. I don’t have co-workers I’m inconveniencing, or a boss breathing down my neck. If I worked in a hospital, I’d have to be pretty close to death’s door to get away with calling in sick. Which is at least Alanis ironic.

I pretty much ask myself two questions

  1. Can I do my job effectively in the condition I am in?
    Broken foot? No problem, I can work. Laryngitis? I’m staying home. Someone else in a different job might not be affected at all by something that would keep me home, and vice versa.

  2. Am I likely to get my coworkers sick?
    Small office. Tight quarters. Shared work spaces. 'Nuff said.

I work from home so it has to be pretty drastic for me not to be able to drag my ass over to my office chair.

One time I hurt my back pretty bad and I couldn’t drag my ass anywhere, literally. Another time I had the stomach flu and I needed a day or so to sleep it off. The time before that when I had the stomach flu, some 10 years earlier, my partner was on vacation and I had to launch a Web site between trips to the potty and short fever naps.

If I’m too wiped out from illness to be effective at work, I’ll just stay in bed. I don’t think I’ve missed many days from illness in 12 or so years.

At my current job, I’m constantly busy (sometimes overloaded) but rarely are there things going on that I and only I can handle and that must be done TODAY. Usually either one of my coworkers can cover or it can wait. We also get generous sick(can use up to 3 days at a time without dr. note), personal(for anything, preferably with notice) and vacation time(needs notice but we get a ton) which helps balance out the lower than industry standard salaries. The institutional culture encourages us all to use our leave as well, there aren’t unspoken penalties for it come review time.

Given this, I stay home if I think I might be contagious (see WhyNot’s great guide), if I need a day in bed to heal from something, or if I feel I’ll be working at less than 60% of my optimum efficiency due to pain, nausea or whatever. If I’m that inefficient I’m actually costing the org more in the long run because I’ll be dragging ass and letting stuff slide all week, so I may as well take the day and get better. Interestingly, I never (ever - like maybe once when I had mono at 16) get fevers. I think it’s just not in my immune arsenal, but also my body runs a few degrees colder than standard when I’m healthy. If I got them I’d use that as a gauge too. I have been known to take a mental health day or “sick of this darn place” day, but only once or twice a year and only if I know I’m not leaving anyone in the lurch by doing so. And really, those fall under the 60% efficiency rubric too, as I do it when I know I’ll just be distracted or depressed all day and not get much done anyhow.

How many days a year this translates to varies widely. The year of 2009 was a doozy for me, following a ton of personal upheaval I was basically sick all year with a rotating cycle of respiratory infections, plus I had a huge course of dental work done. This led to me missing at least a day each month, some of which I made up on weekends and such. Conversely, I think I’ve only been out sick one or two days so far in 2012. I have taken a day here and there for “sick of this place” but I was able to plan them a few days in advance and use legit personal time for them so no weasling needed.

At my last job, things were very different. We were scheduled down to the half hour most days, and calling in meant great difficulty for anyone else on shift. I was one of a few full time employees and the rest were students on tight schedules of their own so getting extra coverage simply didn’t happen. So, I took one sick day in the 2 years I worked that job. If I was sick I spent slack hours lying down under my desk and left early if I could, but dammit I was there! I miss that job a lot but not that aspect at all.

I hate calling in sick and I’ve gone to work sick plenty. I’m actually far more likely to call in sick for a mental health day. My job is fairly easy to do with minor illness and requires no face-to-face contact. The only illness I’ll call in for is something like back pain. Sitting for 8 hours kills me as it is.

I average about 3-4 sick calls a year. One of my co-workers, who works 3 days a week I might add, called in 20 times last year. How she got away with that I’ll never understand.

I am a self-employed psychologist, so calling in sick is a huge incontinence for both me and my clients. When I fear that I might be contagious, I open all the doors and otherwise avoid touching surfaces they touch, plus lots of hand washing. Fortunately, I don’t get sick often.

I thought urine was sterile?

ETA: :wink: Damned spell corrector.

Depends on the job. Some, like desk jobs, are a little easier to get through when at less than full strength. But some jobs, meh. Nothing like a waitress sneezing into your food to make your day, right?

LOL! Totally didn’t notice!

The only time I call in sick is when proximity to a restroom is important. Occasionally if I have a migraine that won’t respond to meds I’ll leave work, but that’s a rarity. I generally take a maximum of 1 sick day per year.

I get 26 days of paid time off, so if I use that time being sick, there’s that much less to use when I"m feeling well.


It totally depends on the current job.
At the moment I have a part time summer job as a Vet’s receptionist. I’d go in with just about any basic illness and just wear a mask but if I have laryngitis I’ll be a damn useless receptionist. However; fever, massive aches or pains indicative of flu, or vomiting (which is highly unlikely since I haven’t been able to vomit in about 27 years) - and I will be staying home.
When I worked at the last factory job, I would work with a pulled muscle but they’d have to put me on light duty. Anything dizziness inducing would be a bad combo with massive moving machinery so I’d stay home for that. Diarrhea would be another problem since the bathroom was so far away and my product being good was time sensitive (I couldn’t just run away at certain stages of the build process without damaging the product).
So, it totally depends on the job, how far away it is, how I get there, and what my duties are.

I go years without missing a day. I have a work area secluded from the other offices. There have been times I’ve gone to work and sent an email basically saying that I am sick but working, but I am quarantining myself – no meetings and don’t bug me unless you really need to.

My job can be mind-numbingly boring or suddenly violent. If I think I can physically/mentally do my job then I go in. So I’ll work with a cold or cough or a fever that’s not high enough to screw up my thinking but not with serious nausea, vomiting, etc…
I’ve worked with cracked ribs, a wrapped hand due to fractured fingers, a broken nose (I took the next night off), various strains, sprains and pulled muscles. Obviously I wasn’t at 100% but my ability to handle unruly drunks was still viable. I did take a week off after my last concussion.
Some of this is due to my work ethic but mostly it’s because I do not get sick/vacation days of any kind. It’s all “no work, no money”.

I’m pretty isolated in my job so even if I’m contagious, there just really isn’t anyone close enough to infect. I’ll go in with any kind of head cold/sinus infection with low grade fever without batting an eye. Same with chest colds/bronchitis as long as it isn’t accompanied with a productive cough.

High fever (over 103), projectile phlegm or diarrhea and I’m staying home.