Bridge Insights

Sick Enough for a Sick Day: Best Practices for Calling off Work

Mar 31, 2020

Have you ever woken up not feeling 100% up to par and contemplated if you should go to work?

Many individuals’ concerns about calling in sick revolve around losing their jobs or losing out on pay.

Deciding to call in sick isn’t always easy, especially given the current circumstances around COVID-19. But taking global pandemics out of the equation, how can you tell if you are “sick enough” to use a sick day, and how do you professionally inform your employer that you’re taking one?

Am I “Sick Enough”?

Before calling in sick, the first thing you need to do is assess how sick you are. Your body is the best indicator of this, so you should always listen to that, but making the call to go into work involves more than just you. It is important to consider your coworkers, as well.

Ask yourself if you are putting your co-workers at risk of catching what you have? Sometimes, after receiving medical attention you may still have a nasty cough but you’re no longer contagious, and can make it through work. Conversely, (and this happens much more often) you could be feeling a little under the weather but be contagious, and coming into work under these circumstances may put your office at risk.

[blockquotes color=”accent” quote=”yes”] Before going into work, ask yourself,  “am I putting my co-workers at risk of catching what I have?” [/blockquotes]

Your Social Responsibility

Regardless of whether you feel like you can make it through a day at work, it is your social responsibility to care for yourself  and protect the safety of the people around you from getting sick. Seek medical attention when it makes sense to do so, and do your part to keep your coworkers with immune systems that are weaker than yours safe.

Making the Call

  • What Should I say?
  • If you’re sick, there is no need to skirt around the fact that you won’t be at work. Less is more; if you aren’t going into work because you are sick, say “I won’t be into work today because I am sick.” 
  • How should I do it?
  • While it is always professional to call, a text or email can be acceptable depending on the relationship you have with your manager. 
  • If you communicate with your company predominantly through text, then texting your manager would be adequate. On the flip side, if that isn’t the norm, then a phone call should be made. If you are not sure, picking up a phone to call in will never be the wrong thing to do.
  • When should you call in sick?
  • As a rule of thumb, the sooner you can call in the better; the earlier you make the call to use a sick day, the more time your team has to accommodate your absence. However, there is one catch: you can’t tell your boss on Wednesday “I won’t be able to come in on Friday because I have the stomach flu” while standing in front of them, perfectly healthy.

Stay Healthy, But Be Prudent

All of us either know someone (or have been guilty ourselves) of using a sick day as more of a mental health day. We get it; it’s important to take time for yourself, but frequently taking off time from work because you have the sniffles, or just didn’t feel like getting out of bed that day comes with consequences that can range from resentful coworkers to potentially putting your job at risk. If you are guilty of crying wolf, don’t be surprised if you encounter a less lenient your employer over time.

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 We are all aware COVID-19 has the world currently navigating through uncharted territory when it comes to personal health and sick day protocol. Regardless of the current climate, clear and professional communication with your employer about your attendance is always a necessity. By following these best practices, you can rest easy knowing that even though you’re taking a sick day, your relationship with your employer is still a healthy one.