Should You Go to Work if You Are Sick?

We’ve all been there.

You wake up feeling that tickle in your throat and a bit achy, but you decide to tough it out. You rationalize the numerous reasons you can’t call in sick. You’ve got a big report. You’ve got a deadline. Or a big project to finish.

So you go in. But you spend the day tired, cranky, miserable and completely unproductive. On top of that, you are generally the most contagious during the first one to three days of your cold symptoms.

You’ve had an unproductive day and you’ve potentially infected your fellow coworkers. The only thing worse than having one person under the weather is having an office filled with them.


So why then, are we so ashamed of calling in sick?


A recent poll found that 1 in 6 Canadians go to work no matter their symptom severity. While on the other end of the spectrum, 1 in 5 says they stay home no matter what – taking care of themselves and ultimately their coworkers too.

And only 53.4 per cent of Canadians only take a sick day if their symptoms are severe, potentially spreading their illness to their coworkers!


Other data has shown that many workers feel guilty about calling in sick and would rather bring their sickness to work.


  1. A Decima Research survey found that more than 50 per cent of Canadian workers this guilt about calling out.


  1. But 76 per cent of Canadian bosses say ‘stay home if you’re not feeling well.’


  1. The survey also found that 46 per cent of workers took no sick days in the past 12 months.


But here’s what you should do:  Seriously, don’t come to work if you are sick.

This should be a no brainer, you won’t perform your job duties as well as you think you can.

Staying home is a sure way to get back to work faster, and with the smallest impact on the rest of your colleagues.

Your boss will be more appreciative of you taking a day off than showing up, not doing your best and infecting others.


Attention Employers


Employers should make their position on sick time and sick days very clear to employees. Make sure your employees know what they are allotted in terms of sick time.

Be understanding and non-judgmental when employees call out sick. Don’t press for details, if not needed, and let the employee know that their health is very important to the success of your business.


How can we feel less guilty about taking that sick day?


When you are sick, you are certainly not at your peak performance. If you go into work it’s likely that your day will be less productive than normal.

You’ll get better faster if you take the time and allow your body to recuperate. Pushing your body to the limit will only exacerbate the problem.

These are all good reasons not to feel guilty about taking the time you need to get well and keep your germs at home.


Why should be talking about this now?

The average Canadian worker gets 2-4 colds a year. And given that it’s flu season, we think it’s very timely to discuss the importance of taking time off when you are sick.

There’s nothing worse than being sick and feeling like you are required to go to work.


You should always prioritize your health. The healthier you are the better of an employee you can be.


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