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Working While Sick

Updated on October 1, 2014

How People Decide When to Call In

Deciding when to call in sick depends on several different factors: how sick you are, your mind set, those around you, and your job.

How sick are you?

For some people, deciding whether or not to stay home when sick depends on how sick they are. I'm not talking about staying home at any little twinge, but actually being sick. Some people will stay home if they're throwing up, have a bad cold, etc. If you're constantly sneezing or coughing or your nose is a steady stream, you probably want to stay home, especially if there are other people around.

How do you feel about calling in sick?

Each person feels differently about calling in sick. Some people will call in and do everything they can to try and make themselves better. Other people will work no matter how sick they are.

How do those around you feel?

*For this section I'm going to use my living situation as an example.

I'm one of those who will call in if I'm sick sick, I want to make sure I get myself well and that I don't make others sick. I live with people (relatives), though, who are of a different mind set. My Dad thought it was very amusing one day when I called in to work because I had a really bad cold (I ended up going to the hospital [I have asthma which colds affect] and the doctor there prescribed me meds). My family has always been of the never calling in no matter how sick you are mindset. With them you're either sick but can carry on, or you're a hyphochondriac. I got to hear stories about how my Dad was extremely sick to his stomach but drove truck anyway and when he got to his destination he had to sit in the truck a few minutes before he felt well enough to get out, but he still kept on working. I had said I thought it best if I stay home since I had a really bad cough and my nose was pouring, and I work in a restaurant. I pointed out that besides needing to take care of myself I might make others sick. For some people such as, elderly people, newborns, and people with some illnesses, or someone living with a person like that, even catching a cold can be dangerous. I pointed that out to my Dad and said that if I went to work and got someone like that sick and they ended up in the hospital or dead it'd be my fault because I got them sick. My Dad said that it'd be their fault if they end up getting sick because they shouldn't be out (doubt that he'd want to be stuck inside all the time if he was in that position though).

How does calling in affect your job?

Your job, a subject that can weigh heavily on one's decision of whether or not to call in. Some people are in a situation where they're working for minimum wage and can't really afford to miss a day of work. I've missed a couple before and am missing today, I went in but had to leave after an hour. I thought at least I went in, I did try. My grandma on the other hand said that most places will only accept you missing a certain number of times and that they're probably going to fire me. I'm home because I'm sick to my stomach, my grandma told me I need to toughen up and if I start to throw up to try swallowing it back down or something. My sister's fiancee also works at a restaurant and said that he thought it'd be nice to be able to go home if he was sick but that they have to work even if they're throwing up. At the grocery store here in town, I had a sister and knew others who worked there. A friend who worked there called in because she had food poisoning, when she went in the next day she got yelled at. My sister had to go in to work even though she had pinkeye. We rarely buy food from the deli there because on several different occasions we ended up getting gastroenteritis from the food.

What WebMD Has to Say

Main points given on WebMD for deciding when you should stay home:

  • How well you'll be able to carry out your work duties. If you're not going to be able to function at your normal level.
  • If you're contagious it's a good idea to stay home so you don't spread it to others.
  • If you have a fever it's a good idea to stay home. Get some rest and try to get well.
  • Are you on any medications? Some medications might make you a bit drowsier or incapable of performing at a normal level.

"Will resting at home help your body to overcome the illness? 'We see a lot of worsening symptoms because people will just not stop and rest. They want to go; they want to be able to do everything that they normally do,” Cummins says. “What they don’t understand is that they’re pushing themselves to the point where they’re actually a lot sicker at the end of two to four days than they would have been if they had just taken that first day off and let their body fight the infection.'"

For more information, check out

Your Opinion

What do you think about calling in sick to work?

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