Feeling the Flu? When Calling in Sick is Unavoidable

By Robert Half December 3, 2014 at 8:00am

In a recent Robert Half survey, 7 in 10 professionals polled admitted they frequently go to work when they're feeling sick. Managers are aware of the issue: Sixty-five percent said that sick employees go to work at least somewhat frequently. 

While you may fear falling behind if you take a sick day, when you feel the flu coming on or you’re contagious with a viral or bacterial illness, it’s far better to stay home and rest. 

But sometimes it’s hard to tell whether you’re ill enough to call in sick. Here are five situations when staying home is the right thing to do:

  • Stay home if you have active symptoms — you’re coughing up phlegm, have a runny nose or are sneezing frequently, for example. Not only do you need bed rest, but you also could infect others if you go to work.
  • A fever isn’t an illness itself but a symptom of an underlying condition, most often an infection. It’s the body’s defense against sickness and a way of telling you to slow down and recuperate.
  • The flu doesn’t begin with vomiting, but rather with extreme fatigue, body aches and chills. It's best to stay home if you have these symptoms. If you do have the flu, you could be contagious even before you start showing serious signs of an illness.
  • You may be feeling better, but if you’re still taking medication, you could pose a danger while you’re driving. If there’s no way for you get to work safely, it’s best to call in sick.
  • Don’t think you're letting down the team by calling in sick. If you're not feeling well, you could make mistakes on the job. Stay home to avoid bringing down productivity.

Don’t wait until the flu knocks you down to ask your supervisor how he wants to be alerted that you are home sick. Find out ahead of time whether your manager would prefer to hear by phone, email or text. And when you do let your supervisor know that you won’t be coming in, leave out the gory details.

Don't overdramatize your symptoms or be a hero, either. After all, heroes don’t spread illness to others. Turn on Netflix and rest.

How do you decide when to call in sick? Let us know in the comments section.

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