Five Excuses for Not Calling in Sick

I woke up this morning feeling awful – no energy, sore throat, headache, congestion, etc.  This wasn’t just a typical case of the “Mondays,” I really didn’t feel like getting out of bed.  After several games of tag with the snooze button I finally made myself get moving.  After a shower and a light breakfast I was feeling better.  A quick check of my temperature revealed no fever, so whatever I was incubating probably wasn’t contagious.  On the drive to work I reflected on my motivation for not making [tag]excuses to call in sick[/tag].

  1. Conserve paid sick leave for more serious illnesses.  As a father of two kids I know how easily kids can come down with colds.  My kids also have fall seasonal allergies, inherited from their dad, that make us regulars at the pediatrician’s office from October to March each year.  For this reason I try to conserve my own sick time so I can help with their care.  Sometimes my wife manages to come down with whatever ailment is affecting the kids and needs some reinforcement.  Other times it is my wife who is sick and I get to play Mr. Mom while my wife recuperates.
  2. Set a good example for your kids.  As a parent, there are times when the “do as I say, not as I do” manta just doesn’t fly.  Kids who watch their parents stay home may grow into little Ferris Buellers, taking advantage of every opportunity to play hooky from school.  Modeling a strong work ethic for your children helps them become more productive citizens later on.
  3. Impress the boss.  Let’s face it, today’s culture rewards “presenteeism.”  People who come to work the day after breaking their leg are called “dedicated.”  Someone who drags themselves to the office on their deathbed is “driven.”  I personally draw the line when it comes to contagious illnesses, because spreading germs around the office hurts overall productivity, and doesn’t make many friends amongst coworkers.
  4. Going to work may actually make you feel better.  When I am suffering from the common cold, anything to get my mind off my symptoms seems to help.  If I stay at home the chances are high that I’m going to lay around in bed, watch some mindless television show and crave some form of fast food.  None of these activities are going to aid my financial turnaround.  If I have the flu, or some other serious illness requiring rest, I’ll stay home to recover.  If it is a headcold and a scratchy throat I say load up on some OTC cold medicine and tough it out.
  5. Missing out on important decisions.  Ever notice when you stay home sick someone quickly throws together a meeting to make an important decision, or a big announcement?  At my last employer I came down with strep throat and was out of the office for three days.  I came back the next Monday to find my badge no longer worked on the outside card reader.  For a sinking moment I thought I had been canned.  Turns out the division I worked for had been bought by another firm and badges had been reissued.  The lesson here is to try and stay in touch with colleagues even if you are home sick via an occasional email, or a phone call in the evening just to catch up on the day’s events.

Where do you draw the line between “presenteeism” and putting your health first?

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  1. Interesting post. I think I draw the line when my effectivness declines. Sometimes staying in bed and resting so you can get better quicker will benefit you more in the long run rather than trudging along at half speed at work for a week.

  2. As a stay-at-home mom, I am present, no matter how sick or contagious I am. Sometimes (like last week) I wish I could call in sick.

    I applaud you for not going to work when you’re contagious though. Too many people do. I don’t know how many times I’ve been frustrated, because my husband brings home some illness from work, and it spreads through the entire family.

  3. Lynnae – as my wife says, “Mommies don’t get sick days!” There is no more important job than that of a full time mother. My wife has been home with our kids for eight years, and though it comes with great sacrifice, we wouldn’t change it for anything in the world!

  4. I haven’t used a sick day in years. And I’m fortunate in that my sick days and my vacation days are separate so using one does not affect the other. But, just last Friday I was faced with this same situation. I woke up sick, put on a brave face and went to work only to turn right around less than an hour later and go home. I hated leaving too. I felt like I was “wimping out” and missing out on some important things happening that day. But, my body completely needed the multiple naps I got in that day. I’m glad now that I went home and I wish I would have just stayed in bed to begin with. I don’t know what makes us stay home some days and not on others – just how awful we’re feeling at the time?

  5. I just hate it when people come to work sneezing and coughing and spreading their cold around the office. They think they are being responsible, but it is really irresponsible to share the germs. If you are sick, stay home!