Thinking of Calling in Sick? Six Things to Consider Before you do So

by Matt B

Sick DayIf you are like most of us, the company you work for allows you a certain amount of sick days each year.  Some of us use every allotted hour of sick time we are afforded, while others use as few as they can get away with.  Most of these people do this under the guise of doing what is best for the company.  As if their presence at work is the only reason the company is still running.

For very few of us, this may be the case.  Maybe your attendance at work is integral to the proper functioning of the business.  For the rest of us, while we may be missed on days we are out sick, it really does not matter in the grand scheme of day to day operations.  If you are on the fence about whether to call in sick, there are some things you need to consider.  Keep in mind, that work is not always the easiest thing to do when you are sick.  Weigh your options and decide.

What Will they Think?

This is always my first consideration when contemplating the call.  If it is a Monday, Friday or a day that we all know is very busy, those who call out tend to get looked down upon and may be considered fakers.  If you are genuinely sick, your boss can probably tell.  He or She may not be the brightest bulb, but it is not that hard to tell the fakers from the sick.  The risk of looking bad to the boss is reason enough for many employees to drag themselves in.  Remember, there is NOTHING more important than your health.  Without that, you would not even be able to have a job.

Do I Have the Time-(Will I get Paid)?

This is tough.  I’m sure that I have a wealth of sick time to use, so if I do get sick, at least I know that I will be getting paid for my missed time.  Some people who are sick will drag themselves in just so they do not miss out on a day’s pay.  This risk must be weighed very carefully.  If you decide to work instead of giving your body time to recuperate,  you may be making yourself even sicker.  If you become sicker because of going to work, it will cost much more in doctor bills and more missed work if your condition does end up worsening.

Am I Contagious?

By going in sick, you risk the health of your co-workers.  If you are worried about being hated because of your sickness, think about the consequences.  If you do decide to work sick, and what you have is contagious, you run the risk of getting everyone you work with sick and in a week or two, you could be working alone.  That is, after all of your sick co-workers call in due to the sickness you gave them.

Can I Perform My Job Functions?

Maybe it is just a cold.  If you work alone, and can do what you need to do, maybe you should go to work.  If you have a migraine and have to write at work, chances are, you will have some issues.  If you are going in out of guilt just to be another warm body in the office, you probably shouldn’t waste your or your employers time.  If it was my office, they would just end up sending me home anyway.

What Are the Policies at my Company?

Knowing the ins and outs of your employee handbook can come in handy when it comes to sick time.  Know how much time you are afforded for occasional illness.  Also learn about what consequences you may face for missing work.  Also, if your employer has a policy on bringing a Doctor’s note, take heed.  Many employers are looking for excuses to drop some dead weight.  Make sure you are not victimized by knowing and playing by the rules.

Does This Illness Jeopardize my Job?

Is there a promotion coming up that you are bucking for?  Calling in sick could make you look slightly less attractive to the boss.  Occasionally, you may have to go in to show them how sick you are.  Usually, you will get sent home if you are doing nothing worthwhile at work.

Some illnesses that cause missed time could put you out of your job.  Make sure that management knows of any conditions you may have that look like they could cause an extended lapse in work. Companies are sympathetic to most situations, so being upfront will help immensely.  If you do have to be out for an extended period of time, the company may have no choice but to fill your position.  If this is the case, ensure that a comparable position will await you when you are able to work again.


MoneyEnergy June 23, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Nice summary. Just reminds me that working for one’s self is still probably the better option (if possible – or as a future goal) so as not to have to deal with this.

Tooch June 23, 2009 at 12:54 pm

My current employer has an interesting sick leave system that has worked very well for them.

You accrue sick time monthly (1.5 days is my current allotment) and can ‘bank’ as many as 200 sick days before you start to lose them. Where it becomes interesting is your retirement health benefits package is contingent on how many sick day’s you’ve got in your bank. The more you have, the better the package is. I think there is even a ‘perfect’ package meaning if you retire with exactly 200 days, it gives you borderline free retirement healthcare. It really adds a new layer to your decision when call in. calling in means you just put yourself behind another month for a good retirement package

The sister June 23, 2009 at 10:26 pm

I’m glad you included the “Am I Contagious” consideration; it’s really important to consider when you are in health care and working with others who are already more susceptible to illness than the average Joe. I rarely miss a day of work, and if I do it’s usually not because I’m sick; I’ll drag myself in, like you said, because I have an unconscious belief that they can’t function without me. For some people it’s easy to think that taking a day off is selfish, even if you’re home in bed, but I have to consider the health of my patients as well. Good call MoneyEnergy; it’s better to work for yourself so you have control of your own time.

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