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 Post subject: Should you go to work when sick?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:41 am 

Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:35 pm
Posts: 90
Ok, I am debating this one right now, I have a pretty decent cold going right now, I took yesterday off and I am debating taking today off. Right now I have a pretty bad cough.

I have always felt it is a courtesy to my fellow coworkers to stay home when I am sick, but I normally recover fast enough that I only ever have to take 1 day off. It also isn't a question of being allowed, my employer is pretty flexible.

So do you guys tough it out and just go into work, or do you stay home and try and get better and not expose anyone else to it at work? I have to decide in the next hour whether or not I am going to go in today.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you go to work when sick?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:30 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:45 pm
Posts: 38
Hello,

I realise it's now too late for you to make your decision, however, I think this is an interesting topic. First, do you actually have "sick days" at work, or do sick days count against your vacation / PTO? I work for a growth stage start-up (i.e. we are out of the garage, in a nice office, about 50 employees now, when I started, there were 11 employees). We get 15 days PTO, 6 major holidays, the day after Thanksgiving and one floating holiday per year. Sick time counts against PTO, which means that if you are sick a lot and take the day off, you don't get to go on any vacation. That being said, I've made it my own policy to go to work when I am sick, unless I am so sick that I can't drive myself back and forth. I do this for two reasons. First, I like to take my vacation time for exactly that, vacation. I travel to Europe at least once a year, so that usually eats up 7-8 days. I also like to take a few extended weekends with my wife, and the rest is used for odd things where I need a half day here or there. It should also be noted that we aren't allowed to carry over more than 3 days from one year to another, so there is no point in "saving" any time, I usually have 3 days left at the end of the year and carry that over. Second, by coming in while being sick, I am trying to make a statement. I disagree with the policy that there is no separate "account" for sick time, that might have been sensible when I started and there was limited resources, but now that the company is more mature, I fully believe that more senior employees should either get 20 to 25 days PTO, or leave it at 15 and give 5 to 10 non-transferable sick days. I've annoyed my co-workers to a large degree, and every time they tell me to stay home when I am sick, I tell them sure, I will once there is real sick days. I don't get sick very often, but if I stayed home every time I did get sick until I am no longer contagious, I'd probably be left with only 8-10 days of PTO.

Not sure what your situation is, care to share?


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 Post subject: Re: Should you go to work when sick?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:36 am 

Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:35 pm
Posts: 90
I am in a fairly small company (probably about 65 employees). And we really don't have a time off plan, you just take off when you want/need, nobody keeps track. That being said, I probably don't take more than 4 sick days a year and I take probably around a week of vacation (1-2 days at a time).

The general feeling around the company is that they expect you to get your work done, they expect you to get your hours in, but if you need time off for things go for it. I try to not abuse the flexibility that my company gives me, and I know my coworkers feel the same.

I always get annoyed by people coming in sick, but everyone seems to do it, I did a quick google search this morning and it was pretty much unanimous, don't go to work sick, you are hurting yourself, your coworkers, and your company. However I still feel guilty taking a day off when I know I could work almost as good as normal.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you go to work when sick?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:33 am 

Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:45 pm
Posts: 38
Marcus,

sounds like you are in a pretty decent position there. Our standards for tracking have gotten much stricter over the past two years, and that's why I feel the way I feel. It used to be that you could schedule doctors appointments during the day, leave for an hour or so and come back. As long as you got your work done, it wasn't a problem. Now, if you want to do that, you get docked a half day. What compounds the issue is that the owners of the company and other senior execs take the freedom to come and go when they please, and it doesn't get counted against them, which sets a very very bad example. Sure, they own the place and can do what they want, but if you want to build morale, you can't apply two different standards. It also seems that folks with children get a lot more leniency when it comes to their children having issues... I often see emails like this "Working from home today, XYZ is sick and I have to stay home". Really? If you have to stay home with a sick child, you won't be too productive, so why do you get to work from home and don't have to take the day off?
I guess I am ranting now, and I apologise, it all depends on your work climate and how you feel about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you go to work when sick?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:34 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:29 pm
Posts: 1629
Location: Seattle, WA
As far as the issue of taking sick days: I don't often get sick enough to stay home. The worst thing I get 90% of the time is a minor cold, enough to be annoying but not to prevent me from working. I will typically go in and share this with my coworkers :P. If I have something slightly worse, I will "work from home" which is more or less standard practice in my industry and what all my coworkers do when they are sick. And if I am sick enough that I don't feel I can work effectively, I will take a sick day. I take on average, less than one sick day a year. It is not a big deal at my current work place to take a sick day - we don't even have a set balance of sick time, it's just "take it if you need it." So generally I feel this policy encourages me to work at home as much as I feel up to, which I think is good.

As far as sick time vs. PTO vs. whatever. I personally am a fan of PTO. Obviously for someone like me who doesn't take much sick time, it allows me to get more vacation time. However! I am also against it, because some people view "PTO" as "vacation" and thus do not take days off when they are sick (either sharing their germs, or pretending to work at home but not really working.) PTO is worse for those who get sick more often and better for those who get sick less often, obviously, and I think small companies like it because it hedges their bets a bit. But I think, like the airline baggage check fee, while it makes sense on the surface, it incentivizes bad behavior.

The flip side is, some people view "sick time" as "PTO", as days off they are entitled to. I know someone who worked someplace where they could roll over sick time. She worked there for years, and when she got burned out and was planning on quitting, she took an average of two "mental health days" every week for like 6 months. I also know of a place that offered up to 25 sick days - but they had to change the policy because some people seemed to be taking those 25 days every year because they felt entitled to them.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you go to work when sick?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:59 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
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Having been in executive management I would say that in most cases if an employee is truly sick, he or she should not come to work. If you are sick you are less productive so, perhaps selfishly, I'd rather you take a sick day than show up and be ineffective. And, if there is even a slight chance that you are contagious you could infect others and end up costing the company and your coworkers because of your selfishness and irresponsibility. The bottom line is, in most cases I would rather have someone take teh occaisional "mental health day" when not truly sick than come to work when they are. You are give sick days for both your benefit and the company's. You should not abuse them by coming to work sick.

Now, I also work with people who are always whining because they never have any sick time. Those people are the real problem! When they do get sick they come to work and get very little done while infecting others.

In my experience, even though I take the occasional mental health day I rarely take more than 2-3 days off sick per year and quickly accumulate tons of sick time. I currently have about 8 weeks of sick time stored up. That itself is a bit of a nuissance to an employer.

I just think that the most ethical thing you can do is stay home when you are sick and don't take sick time when you are not.


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 Post subject: Re: Should you go to work when sick?
PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 7:26 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:03 am
Posts: 872
Location: Taishan, Guangdong, China
You could take a que from Hong Kong and go to work with a medical mask on.

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