Is It Ever Okay To Go To Work Sick?

Is It Ever Okay To Go To Work Sick?

2011-01-28 10:00:57

Admit it, you’ve probably done it before. Whether it was because you felt you couldn’t miss a day of work, had already used your allotted amount of sick days, or some other reason…you’ve gone in to work sick.

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of workers go into work when they are sick. Why? Some workers say workplace pressure or guilt factors into their decision to come in, despite not feeling well.

The question that begs to be answered is: What are the “rules” about going into work when you’re sick? Are there any?

In many workplaces, despite the pressure of deadlines and projects, it can be an annoyance or hindrance to have a sick co-worker walking around the office. Not only are you spreading your germs throughout the office – and potentially causing fellow co-workers to get sick – but you’re also representing your company to clients and customers while sick. Either way, you probably won’t come off as a professional if you’re walking around coughing and sneezing all day.

What’s the proper etiquette regarding illnesses in the workplace? Here are some tips:

  • Ask your supervisor if you can work from home. Telecommuting is a great option for sick employees, especially if you’re contagious but have pressing assignments to finish. It also gives you the option to rest throughout the day, which you cannot typically do at the office.
  • Communicate with your boss and co-workers. Although it may feel like your company needs you to be there every day, there are likely other people who can pick up tasks for you if you choose to stay home sick. Talk with your supervisor to make arrangements should you need to miss a day, and communicate with co-workers who depend on your work for their day-to-day assignments.
  • Allow yourself the day off. Because of the economy, many people are afraid to admit when they’re sick and need the day off. However, it’s important to allow your body a day or two to recover when you’re ill. If you don’t give yourself time off when you’re sick, it may turn into a much larger problem than you anticipated.
  • If you absolutely cannot avoid the office, limit your contact with others. You don’t want all of your co-workers getting sick because of you! Wash your hands frequently, avoid touching common areas (such as doorknobs, railings, desk surfaces, etc.), and clean your office area before leaving work for the day.
  • Consult your employee handbook or HR department if you are unsure of company policy. Depending on your company, there might be policies in place regarding sick days. To ensure you’re going through the correct channels, read up on those policies or talk with human resources regarding your situation.

Does your workplace have policies in place for sick days? Or do you feel pressure to come in despite being ill?