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Going to Work When You're Sick

Updated on September 14, 2011
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over 10 years. She covers a wide variety of topics - hobbies, opinions, dating advice, and more!

Uh-oh! Sickness Strikes

It happens to everyone. You wake up one morning and feel kind of groggy. You take a swallow and you have a sore throat. Oh no! How did you get sick? Maybe it was that waitress that was coughing at Friday's when you went out the other night? Or could you have gotten sick from the mail carrier? You noticed he was looking a little pale yesterday. Surely he did not sneeze on your mail! Wait a minute! Wasn't your co-worker in the next cubicle sniffling the other day? Maybe he got germs on your stapler when he borrowed it yesterday....

You could honestly go on like that forever. Now is not the time to think about that. Germs are everywhere! Every public bathroom, every grocery store cart, and every place else is full of germs. Placing the blame on anyone right now is not the priority.

Now that you are sick, the question is: to work or not to work?

Your Co-Workers Will Hate You

The problem with getting sick in the middle of the work week is that you are not sure if you should tough it out and go to work or keep your germs at home. This subject has caused major debate at my job this week. You see, one or two people came in sick and about half the office got sick. I am sure you can imagine the finger pointing and animosity that spread faster than the germs.

Basically, if you are sick, you should stay home. But what if co-workers are counting on you to fix a problem that needs to be solved that day? What if an entire department is sick? Should an entire department shutdown which would cause turmoil in the whole company? What if a person is sick for two weeks? Obviously, they can't stay out that long unless they are hospitalized with something serious.

So essentially, what we've learned is not everyone can stay home sick. What is most important is staying home when the sickness begins since a person is most contagious at that time. Unfortunately, people do not always know they are about to come down with something until it is too late. The contamination has already begun! It sounds like a lame horror movie, but it is true. Just don't point the finger at people. It makes for awkward work conversations and poor office morale.


Put a Plan in Action

So what happens if an entire team does get sick and no one can come in? What if a manager is not there to handle his or her job? This is why it is so important to have a backup for situations like this.

Every single person at any job should have someone that knows how to do their job. Maybe they do not have to know absolutely every detail about the job, but a basic knowledge is essential. Even if that knowledge is divided between a few people, it is still a good idea. Also, try to train workers on projects and tasks not within their department in case an emergency should occur. If an entire department is out sick, the whole company should not suffer.

Let Ms. Sniffles and Mr. Upset Tummy Stay Home

What I think is most important at any company is allowing workers to stay home sick if they need to do so. If someone calls out, don't guilt trip them. Do you want somebody coming in sick and throwing up on your desk? No, I didn't think so. If someone is out one day, but feels better the next day, don't accuse them of "faking it" to be out. This could even be the truth, but it is impolite to say it. No wonder people go to work sick when they know their co-workers look down on them for staying home.

Always remember, if you do not want to get sick, let the sick co-workers stay home. Don't let them regret the decision. If you are sick, stay home if you are contagious. If you don't know whether you are contagious, stay home that day and determine if you have the flu, a cold, or a stomach virus. Any of those are potentially contagious to others. If you determine it is allergies or a slight case of food poisoning, and you can function at work, go into work. No one wants your germs, but no one wants to cover your job duties for an endless amount of time either.

A healthy office is a happy office! Do your best to keep it that way and encourage your colleagues to do the same. 


Submit a Comment
  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    In general, it only gets worse if you don't stop and rest. It is tough being sick. It is even worse if you go to work and give it to everyone else. Thanks for the comment!

  • MelChi profile image

    Melanie Chisnall 

    9 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

    That's so true! We had some people in our office who started off sick, but insisted on coming in to work. Guess what, they were off each for two weeks! Not cool. I agree with you - if you're sick, stay home and get better. We're only human after all.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    10 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you for your comment. We had a terrible cold running rampant all over our office. You could hearing coughing from every office. It was terrible! It inspired me to write this hub.

  • Jangaplanet profile image


    10 years ago

    This is great advice. I never missed a day from work in my life, went in sick- with fever-cold. One time i was actually sent home and got upset about it. Though you are right one should stay at home or they may actually make others around them sick.


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