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Should You Use Sick Days While Working Remotely?

Prior to the pandemic, we wrote an article discussing whether it’s okay to use sick time when you are not actually sick. Some employers take this seriously, while others let you use your sick time at your leisure. However, a new dilemma has arisen as many of us continue to work from home: should you use sick days while working remotely? With nearly 92% percent of employees still working from home in some capacity, should you use sick time when sick or power through it?

Why you should use sick time while working from home

Before COVID-19 turned our lives upside down, it was a pretty simple process to stay home when feeling under the weather. It was an easy decision to stay home to rest up and prevent infecting your colleagues. Fast forward to today, and this decision becomes more challenging. Since you are already home, should you buck up and get your work done? In a recent poll by OnePoll, two out of three Americans feel less inclined to take time off when feeling ill. 70% of respondents also reported that they worked from home while feeling sick. However, this mindset leads to “presenteeism,” which is when employees are present at work but unable to perform and focus. As a result, this can lead to burnout, longer recovery times, and even costly mistakes or accidents.

So, instead of logging on with the sniffles, use some of your paid time off to rest up. After all, that’s what sick time is for!

How employers can help encourage healthy habits

Back in the day, the employees that came to work with a head cold were portrayed as committed and hardworking. In some circumstances, these people set a precedent, making others feel uncomfortable for utilizing their sick time instead of coming into the office. But the pandemic has forced many employers to abandon this mentality. Instead of discouraging employees from using sick time, executives need to foster a culture of acceptance. Companies need to encourage their employees to utilize their time off when feeling ill and make it known that it’s okay to log off and rest up. If one of your teammates is obviously under the weather, or you notice their mental health is less than par, urge them to use their time off.

Promoting a culture where it’s okay to use sick days while working from home will help you combat the Great Resignation and make it easier for your hiring team to attract new talent in this competitive market. Looking for more ways to attract new employees during these challenging times? Check out our client resources!

Is It Okay to Use Your Sick Days When You’re Not Sick?

Is It Okay to Use Your Sick Time When You’re Not Sick?

It’s finally here! The most marvelous time of the year! March Madness started this week and workers around the country will be paying more attention to their NCAA Tournament brackets than their work.

Time for a quick poll: How many of you are calling in sick to watch college basketball all day?

According to a Yahoo Sports Poll, about 14 percent of American workers take a sick day to watch March Madness. This sparks a controversial question: is it okay to use your sick time when you’re not actually sick?

Most of us have lied at one point or another to take a sick day when you’re not really sick. However, sometimes you really need to take a sick day, even though you’re not under the weather. Is that okay? Let’s break it down.

It depends on the company

Every company differs regarding time-off protocol. Traditionally, employers offer sick days and vacation days. Sick time is, as its name implies, for when you’re sick, and vacation time is for everything else. So, if you have an appointment, your kid is feeling under the weather, or you have a family emergency, you often had to use your vacation time instead of your sick time.

Some companies offer personal time to help combat some of these issues, but most employees still feel guilty when using sick time for anything else than being sick.

However, more and more companies are moving to PTO (paid time off). PTO is a combination of vacation time and sick time, where employees decide whether they use their days for a vacation, when they are sick, or for a family emergency. In fact, 43% of companies offered PTO in 2016.

Unfortunately, it’s a gray area for many organizations when its appropriate for workers to use their sick days. Here is when it’s okay to use your sick time:

When you really are sick

In a perfect world, you should be able to call in sick whenever you don’t feel well enough to be productive at work. If you are contagious, do you and your whole office a favor – stay home. Your co-workers will appreciate not being exposed to any nasty germs.

Some employers discourage you from using sick time. If this is the case for your employer, the company you work for has some serious culture issues. You shouldn’t have to be on your death bed in the ER to be able to use a sick day. Coming to work when you are not at 100% can be dangerous for you and your co-workers.

When you feel you’re about to burn out

You may have heard of Madalyn Parker, a software developer who suffers from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. She took a couple days off to “focus on her mental health.” Her email message to her team went viral and this is what it said:

“Hey team,

I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.

Thanks

Madalyn.”

The next day, the CEO of Madalyn’s company commended her decision to take a couple sick days for her mental health. He told her she’s “an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.”

This is a great example of using your sick time to when you’re not feeling well mentally or emotionally. If you are not able to give 100% of your effort at work, it is perfectly okay to take a sick day to stay home and rejuvenate yourself!

Use your sick days responsibly

Regardless of how you decided to spend your sick days, use them responsibly. You should never take time off just because you don’t want to go to work. Just remember that when you use one sick day, you take away another opportunity for a day off down the road. And if you dread going to work so much that you feel you need to use a sick day, it may be time to find a new career path.