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How (and why) to call in sick — even when you’re working from home

0 2 years ago

So often we’re somewhere between sick and healthy — it’s not always obvious. I might not feel like running a 10k or going to a social gathering, but does that mean I’m too sick to work?

When we all worked together in person, we all probably had opportunity to wish that a co-worker had stayed home rather than bringing their coughing and sneezing into the office. At the same time, many of us probably dragged ourselves in to avoid missing an important meeting or face-time with a manager.

Now with so many of us working remotely, it’s even harder to know when and how to call in sick. Some people stop everything at the first signs of a serious cold, stomach bug, or other illness. That might seem extreme, but it is a good idea to call in sick and take a pause to rest and regroup before you become seriously ill, especially those who are working in-person. This is even more true in light of the pandemic when we know that extra care can reduce the spread of disease.

Beyond sickness, sometimes your mind and body simply need a break from responsibilities.

Whether for a sick day or to enjoy a day off—workers often find it difficult to inform their managers that they need sick leave.

According to a 2020 Zippia survey, 52% of participants claimed to have faked an illness to enjoy a day off from work. Another survey had 28% of respondents who felt the need to make up a story despite qualifying for time off.

Employees tend to feel uncomfortable at the thought of missing work. This may be because of viewing the illness as too minor for time away. Other times, workers fear that supervisors will consider the illness/mental break a mere excuse to get out of work. While these are valid worries, a needed break from work doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking experience.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), workers can take up to four months off if they meet all of the requirements specified in the law. Employers and states may decide whether or not medical leave is paid although some states, such as New York, California, and Maryland, mandate paid leave for workers.

While the FMLA covers serious conditions as well as giving birth and caring for a new child, most of the time, your health needs will be about calling in sick for a day or two.

This deep-dive will explore the types of breaks you need from work, or if a break is even necessary. You’ll learn how to call in sick, and the dos and don’ts when applying for a leave. For employees who have applied for sick time off, this guide will examine the steps to take when calling in sick.


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