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When to Call in Sick to Work

Call in Sick to Work When . . .

When I feel a cold coming on, I want nothing more than to complain about my discomfort and lie on the couch watching romantic comedies. Let's face it though, we can't always call in sick for a little case of the sniffles. We also don't want to downplay our symptoms and go to work when a contagious virus is pulsing through our bodies. So call in sick:

  • When you are noticing beginning combinations of symptoms such as a sore throat, nasal congestion, or a bad headache. Since you are most contagious at the beginning of your illness, your co-workers will appreciate you keeping your germs at home.
  • When you have a full-on cold and you work closely with other people, children, or the elderly. You don't want to risk infecting them.
  • When you have a fever, stay home. Your body temperature rises to help kill off germs, so rest at home to let your body do its job.
  • When you have a productive cough, chest congestion, stuffed up sinuses, green mucus, a scratchy sore throat, achiness, nausea, or are throwing up, definitely call in sick.

When should you go to work? To find out


Go to work:

  • When your only symptom is a slight runny nose.
  • When your only symptom is a dry cough. If it lasts more than a few days, you might want to see your doctor.
  • You're feeling better after being sick, and symptoms are just about gone. Once you go to work, be sure to wash your hands often, and avoid touching things other people regularly come in contact with.

If you're not sure what to do, your best bet is to stay home. Don't worry about not being able to get your work done, because you won't be very productive if you're feeling under the weather. Plus staying home not only shows respect for your co-workers' health, but properly resting when you're sick can also shorten the duration of your illness. If it turns out to be nothing, you can always go into work the next day.


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