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sick days

I have almost never taken a sick day, from any job. I think I have taken a total of one, in 30+ years of working.
Are sick days only for when you are really too sick to drive to work (and I doubt that happens often for most people)? Or do you exaggerate a little and take sick days sometimes when you are merely sick of going to the office? Or when you need to catch up on sleep, or just feel like doing something other than work?
Since I have a policy of never lying, I might not feel right about taking a sick day as long as I could drag myself in here somehow. But what do normal people think?

Dr. Real PC
Monday, August 16, 2004

Personally, I've never taken one.

Keep in mind there are other reasons too. We allow employees to stay home with, for instance, dependent children who are ill. Even though it's the kid who's sick, we let the parent take a sick day to stay home and take care of the kids.

Sgt. Sausage
Monday, August 16, 2004

"Hey boss, I need to take a sick day, there's something wrong with my eyes. Yeah, I can't see working on a day like this..."

Honestly, I don't like sick days. I prefer the idea where it's all one big lump of days off. I probably average one sick day a year, if that.

OTOH, having unused sick days, I've got to make a point of being more liberal about when I take days off for not feeling well (abs are still sore from the gym yesterday... hmmm...)

Philo

Philo
Monday, August 16, 2004

"I have almost never taken a sick day, from any job."

You've probably had a lot of coworkers who've taken sick days off as a result, given that you generously spread whatever ailments you picked up elsewhere. There is a point to which you're a loyal, hard working employee, but beyond that is inconsiderate and irresponsible, and potentially costly to your employer. I'm not advocating staying away at the first scratchy throat, and you may very well be extremely hardly (I've known a few people like that who never get sick), but rather that it isn't always the best practice to pursue 100% attendance.

Personally I take probably 3-4 days a year off as sick days on average - maybe I have a flu, or a really bad cold, or my daughter isn't feeling well, or whatever. Invariably I spend the day going over work, either via physical documents or just in my mind. Given that the average information worker does a true 2 days or so of work a week, it isn't hard to catch up.

.
Monday, August 16, 2004

I agree wholeheartedly with just about everything '.' said above.  In addition, I tend to use sick days as personal days, since vacation days must be 'reserved' and can't be used on an emergency basis where I work, and we aren't given personal days.  Work is not my life, my family (ie, my daughter) is.  If something comes up and I have the choice of not missing a day of work, or actively taking a role in my family's immediate needs, I know exactly where my priority is.

muppet
Monday, August 16, 2004

My current employer allocates 8 sick days per year. If you don't use any of them, you get 3 extra vacation days the next year.

I haven't taken any yet. At this point if I'm sick enough to stay home I'll probably take a vacation day...

My wife's employer accounts for sick days the same as they do for vacation (different account, however). She 'earns' sick time each pay period and it can build up until she has over a month of sick time in the 'bank'.  It was nice when she was having kids - she saved it up so she had paid 'sick time' to extend her stay home with the baby before returning to work.

RocketJeff
Monday, August 16, 2004

http://www.geekculture.com/joyoftech/joyarchives/417.html

Bill Brown
Monday, August 16, 2004

+++My current employer allocates 8 sick days per year. If you don't use any of them, you get 3 extra vacation days the next year.++

What a sucker bet.  Hmm let's see, 8 days now or 3 days later... hold on.. I'll get this one...

muppet
Monday, August 16, 2004

I lose 3 - 5 days per year to being sick.

If I'm just feeling a little blah, sure I'll work.  But if I'm infectious, I'll work from home.

If I'm sick enough that medication cannot prop me up enough to be productive, I'll just stay in bed and recover.

Saying you've never taken a sick day is not a badge of honor.  It just means that you care about your own ego more than you care about the quality of your work, or the health of your co-workers.

www.ChristopherHawkins.com
Monday, August 16, 2004

I take sick days and drain my Vacation hours whever I feel like not working.  In fact, they should all just be pooled together as Personal Hours.  You do what you want, and it's nobody else's business.  My company (of one) is still too small to employ others (let alone me, hence still the day job); but when it grows, I only expect about 20 hours out of the 40 hour week for people to actually be productive.  + 3 weeks of Personal Days to do as you wish, whether your sick or not.

I think this type of mentality blends work better into one's life then a more strict, regimented, and labelled work environment.  And you don't waste time dealing with people who then 'pretend' to be sick or deal with their guilty conscience about lying.  Remove the reason to lie in the first place.

sedwo
Monday, August 16, 2004

+++In fact, they should all just be pooled together as Personal Hours.  +++

This is already done in many places, who lump sick, vacation, and personal time into "PTO" (Paid Time Off).

The upshot is that since it's all in one bucket, they feel they can get away with providing you less time overall, since when it's all lumped together, it still seems reasonable.

muppet
Monday, August 16, 2004

"inconsiderate and irresponsible"

I agree totally. If you are really sick - THEN STAY HOME!!!!!

I hate getting sick when other morons insist on coming in and infect everyone else in the office.

Every employer I have worked for (5 total) have an unlimited sick day policy. Those who are really sick benefit from a system like this. Those who abuse it eventually get written up or fired.

Genx'er
Monday, August 16, 2004

I remember unlimitted sick days...

::sigh::

And yes, coworkers who come in sick ought be shot.  Especially the ones who go out of their way to come over to your cube and describe to you exactly how sick they are, making poor attempts to cover their coughs with a closed fist all the while. 

muppet
Monday, August 16, 2004

Dude,

Take a sick day. Live your life for awhile.

Work is secondary to everything in life ... well behind mowing the yard or even changing your furnace filter.

Your kids/spouse miss you.

Anon
Monday, August 16, 2004

When I was growing up my dad never got sick and therefore never took a sick day.  My wife, on the other hand, averages 3 or 4 days sick a year.  Different people seem to be prone to different amounts of illness.  As far as what is "valid" for a sick day, my opinion is to take a sick day, you should either be contagious, or be miserable enough that you would prefer to be well and at work than at home the way you feel.

Paid Time Off, (PTO) is a good policy to equalize "fairness" between people who only take sick days when they are really sick (or caring for a sick relative when that is allowed), vs. people who tend to be "sick" on Monday's and Friday's especially when the weather is nice.  The down side to PTO, is that I consider all of those days mine.  When I worked at a place that had PTO, I wouldn't take a day off unless I physically couldn't make it to the office.  I know I wasn't unique in this regard.

In general I feel sick should be seperate from vacation (to encourange people to stay home rather than getting the rest of the office ill), and people who play golf on sick days (rather than taking a vacation day), should have their cars keyed.

madking
Monday, August 16, 2004

corporate policy here is that you use vacation days until you're sick enough to miss 3 consecutive days, or out/in patient surgery.  So if you're feeling bad one day, it comes out of your vacation.

i ate some bad chinese on sunday evening, by 1 pm monday i was feeling woozy, went home, and had a 104 fever until noon tuesday.  went back to work wed morning, 1.5 vacation days fewer.

i doubt i'll ever use my sick days.  i've never been sick for 3 days consecutively, at least not since I can remember.

nathan
Monday, August 16, 2004

Nathan, who is your HR director?

Catbert???????

Sounds like an evil system worthy of Dilbert's adversary to me!!!!!

Genx'er
Monday, August 16, 2004

+++In general I feel sick should be seperate from vacation (to encourange people to stay home rather than getting the rest of the office ill), and people who play golf on sick days (rather than taking a vacation day), should have their cars keyed. +++

Why is this?  Why does it make you so angry (to the point of sociopathic rage, if only in your own thoughts) that people use sick days for other things?  If the company entitles them to X sick days, why shouldn't they use them?  Is it because you're jealous?  If you have some sort of sick need to devote your life and loyalty to your employer, then hey, that's groovy man, that's your thing.  But why do you have to have such unrestrained hatred for folks who want to LIVE THEIR LIVES?  It's not impacting you.

And don't give me some bullshit line about how you have to take up their slack.  If your office is properly staffed, then the workload should be balanced.  Nobody gets INFINITE sick time, and if you weren't such a workaholic, you wouldn't have the increased capacity to get dumped on so much.

muppet
Monday, August 16, 2004

Physician (Doctor), heal thyself.

hoser
Monday, August 16, 2004

+++corporate policy here is that you use vacation days until you're sick enough to miss 3 consecutive days, or out/in patient surgery.  So if you're feeling bad one day, it comes out of your vacation.+++

This sounds like a self-defeating policy, to me.  I'd simply make sure that I was ALWAYS "sick" for at least 3 consecutive days.

muppet
Monday, August 16, 2004

A lot depends on the employer. One Fortune 500 company I worked for factored them into the annual salary review; so people who took more than the average number (around 3-6) paid for them in a lowered salary.

Other companies assume everyone needs an occasional mental health day, and don't want to see people in the office spreading germs.

Tom H
Monday, August 16, 2004

i get sick often enough to take the right amount of 'legitimate' sick days.  i try to go in to work, first, though.  it always looks better when you leave home early because you've gone through 1/2 a box of kleenex...

Kenny
Monday, August 16, 2004

+++so people who took more than the average number (around 3-6) paid for them in a lowered salary. +++

this is a sad, sick practice.

muppet
Monday, August 16, 2004

I've never liked the combined sick/vacation/bank holiday approach ever since my wife go burned by it some years ago by a bad case of the flu.

As a manager, I've often seen people precisely calculate their sick days and use them up by the end of each fiscal year. Like no one is going to notice you took 10 sick days each year ?

The org. I work for now has a rational process. Oddly enough, it's government agency. There is no "use it or loose it policy". On your hiring anniversary day each year, the first 5 unused sick days you still have on account turn into vacation days to use as you wish. All the remaining sick days simply stay on in your account balance. In other words, unused sick time is never lost.

I've seen some old timers here take off 2+ months due to a serious illness without loosing a dime of pay.

When you retire (if you make it that long - lots do) you get paid out for your accumulated sick time at your current rate of pay at retirement in a pro-rata formula based on years of service (i.e.; 25 years = 100%).

Tom
Monday, August 16, 2004

Muppet,
Hypothetical situation:

1.  I form company, have X days of vacation/holiday/personal days a year.
2.  Employee A gets sick and is unable to work
3. (This is probably the step where we will disagree) I don't feel it is fair to add to ones misfortunes when they are ill by making them give up a vacation day, so I pay them as if they worked anyway.  (i.e. a sick day)
4. Employee M calls in "sick" when they are pefectly capable of working because they realize I will pay them for not working.

5.  Now I have choices
5a.  Ignore, and assume all my employees will respect the spirit of the sick days
5b.  Limit the number of sick days, there by mitigating the risk of people being "sick" without cause, but putting people who come down with a serious illness in a bind.
5c.  Use PTO (i.e. the employees have no compassion for me and I have no compassion for them)  This is equivilant to not having step 3.

You are advocating choice c since you seem to believe in a dog-eat-dog world.  I am naive and like to believe in kinder, gentler world where a company could institute choice 5a and not penalize people for getting sick by taking away vacation/salaray, without having their average number of sick days taken go above the number of days employees are really sick.

Of course, in my kinder, gentler world, no one will key your car, so I guess I have to remain frustrated.

madking
Monday, August 16, 2004

>>> My current employer allocates 8 sick days per year. If you don't use any of them, you get 3 extra vacation days the next year.

I have no idea how many sick days we're allowed in a year, I hardly ever take them.  You can take up to three days off sick w/ no questions asked (well, someone will ask what was wrong with you, but not an official question), beyond that you've got to be sick enough to see a Dr.  If you don't take any sick days, you don't get anything for them.

I don't agree with the idea of taking sick days as extra vacation days - that's dishonest - but as I've gotten older I take them for more borderline cases.  In the past 6 years, I haven't had many colds (since I started taking lots of Vitamin C), but if I start to come down with a cold I'll take a rest day and get extra sleep to keep it from getting worse.

anonymous for this
Monday, August 16, 2004

Perhaps I'm a bit less loyal than everyone else.

Unless it's YOUR company, the company doesn't care about you? They'll expunge you quicker than you'd EVER consider expunging them. Currently, you're a cubicle number with a salary attached to it ... 'tis all.

Do bust your ass while you're there all day; makes you proud and progresses you upwards/onwards. But, you guys are caring WAY too much about the definition of "sick" leave. Since when must "sick" be "too deathly ill to move"?

Take a sick day for your soul, man. Drop your daughter off at school ... take your spouse out to brunch. These kind of spontaneous days can be more recooperative than any medicine.

Anyhow, your company is already scheming on how it can eliminate your position anywho.

Anon
Monday, August 16, 2004

It's hard to know exactly what counts as "sick." If I didn't get enough sleep, I probably don't feel like coming to work, and you could extend the definition of "sick" to include days when you're extremely tired. But then you have to make a decision every day -- "am I tired enough to be considered sick, or am I just feeling lazy?"
My natural laziness would certainly take over and I would have at least a half sick day every day. That's because I am not a morning person and would rather never leave home before 12 noon.
So to keep things simple I just never take sick days, as much as I would love to.

Dr. Real PC
Monday, August 16, 2004

I have never used sick days myself.

My employer allows child sick leaves and let me tell you it's quite a relief to know that you can take time off when your little ones are ill and you need to take care of business.

God bless employers who have big hearts and value their employees.

Farid
Monday, August 16, 2004

Yeah, all 3 of them.

xxx
Monday, August 16, 2004

+++You are advocating choice c since you seem to believe in a dog-eat-dog world.  I am naive and like to believe in kinder, gentler world where a company could institute choice 5a and not penalize people for getting sick by taking away vacation/salaray, without having their average number of sick days taken go above the number of days employees are really sick.+++

Not at all, I believe that employers ought to be a LOT more liberal with time off here in the states.  I think the vacation standards over in Europe put us to shame.

muppet
Monday, August 16, 2004

My personal philosophy is that I'll feel crappy at home too, so I might as well be at work. Of course, if i'm contagious, I'll stay home, or if I can't see well enough to drive to work (has happened with migranes)

We thankfully have a unlimited accrual on sick time, e.g you earn it at a fixed rate with no cap so when I needed my tonsils out a few years ago and had to miss a couple of weeks it was no sweat.

I have a co-worked who I've worked with for the last fifteen years or so who has never, ever, taken a sick day. He's pretty damn heathly, but there have been days that he should have stayed home. It's a matter of pride for him to always put in a good effort as his father worked in a coal mine for 30 years without missing a day.

Miles Archer
Monday, August 16, 2004

Let's all call in sick tomorrow (Tue).

Question
Monday, August 16, 2004

People who come in sick with contagious infections or viruses are fucking assholes.

Guess what, asshole, nobody is thinking "Wow, what a trooper", everyone is thinking "I'm going to get that asshole's germs".

So fuck you, assholes who come in sick.

Mr. Fancypants
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I noticed when I visited Japan that lots of people wear little anti-microbial facemasks. I wasn't sure if that's because they're paranoid about other people's germs or because they're sick and being considerate of others.

The latter approach actually seems somewhat sensible to me. If you're contagious but not so sick that you want to take the day off, that ought to allow you to work without endangering others, right?

Anyway, I got the sense that the original question was not about whether you should go to work or not if you're actually contagious, but about whether people take sick days when they're not really sick at all. I occasionally talk to an acquiantance who admits to doing that, and I must admit it really rubs me the wrong way. That feels deeply dishonest and is something I've never done. If I really needed a day off that badly I'd have told my manager the truth.

John C.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

muppet, you asked: "Why does it make you so angry (to the point of sociopathic rage, if only in your own thoughts) that people use sick days for other things?  If the company entitles them to X sick days, why shouldn't they use them?"

Because they're *sick days*, not personal days. Now, personally, it makes sense to me that parents should be able to use them to look after sick dependents or whatever -- essentially, for unanticipated emergencies that make it impractical to go to work. That's a different thing from being perfectly capable of showing up and simply not *wanting* to because it's nice out and you'd rather go golfing.

It seems a bit like insurance. If you pay $2,000 to insure your car every year, why shouldn't you be able to withdraw money at the end of the year to upgrade your car if you haven't been in an accident? The insurance policy entitles you to repairs, why not use it? Because that's not its purpose. IMnsHO, sick days should function as a similar safety net; if you don't need 'em, you shouldn't take 'em.

John C.
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

John C. - on the masks in Japan, they wear them largely to avoid hay fever.

Joel Goodwin
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Taking sick days when you aren't sick is fine.  The company has already written those hours off (on paper), so if you don't take the time off its just getting wasted.  And that's stupid.  And as others have said it isn't like most companies bend over backward to treat you fairly.

There is a certain contextual situation here though.  If someone calls in sick the day some big project is due, that's one thing.  If someone calls in sick during the lulls of summer or the winter vacations..big fucking deal. 

And I say this as a business owner myself. 

"Perfect attendence" people throw up a big red flag for me.  In my experience in both school and in business, they are usually working hard because they aren't capable of working smart.

Mr. Fancypants
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Er, I meant the winter holidays...

Mr. Fancypants
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I take sick days if I'm ill.

If I was an employer I'd be very angry indeed with workers who 'dragged themselves in' - you can't get any decent work done if you're ill; you'll take longer to get better and, perhaps worst of all, you'll likely infect the rest of the office.

Mr Jack
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I find the notion of a set number of sick days odd, and counter-productive. I get as many as I need, as is standard in Britain - giving a set number is begging for your staff to pull sickies.

Mr Jack
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I have a PTO system and think it's great.  The sick leave system drives the healthiest and most honest employees away from the company. I only get sick about 1 day per year. I probably would not have joined my current company if they didn't switch to PTO just before I joined, because their previous policy would have meant I'd lose nearly 2 weeks vacation.

PTO also helps the company and other employees to plan better.  With a sick leave system, an employee can (dishonestly) plan to take off next Monday for some non-health related purpose, but of course they won't tell anybody in advance --  Monday will come and they'll call in sick.  With PTO, they would book the Monday in advance and others can plan around the absence.

Yes, some people may abuse the PTO by coming in sick, but an alert manager should be able to see that and send the employee home.

T. Norman
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

+++If I really needed a day off that badly I'd have told my manager the truth. +++

And I'm sure he'd be happy to give you the time off without pay.  And if your manager is more forgiving than that, great!  Most aren't. 

So, if it floats your boat to be fiercely moral to a fault about your sick days (I'm sure there's a crack in your moral compass somewhere, nobody's Jesus, after all, well except...) that's great!  Have fun with that!  Be fiercely loyal and honest with a company that would throw you out on your  ass the minute you show a negative value on a spreadsheet somewhere.  Take solace in your moral superiority, it's all you've got with that strategy.

Me, I choose to prioritize my short (getting shorter all the time) life and my family above XYZ Corp's particular needs.

muppet
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I would absolutely NEVER work for a company with a PTO system. Why would you willing accept a system that steals your quality holiday time everytime you feel sick? Does anyone really think lying on the sofa feeling like shit all day is a holiday?

Mr Jack
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Company A gives 3 weeks vacation plus 2 weeks sick.
Company B gives 4 weeks PTO to do anything.

Healthy people would usually prefer B.  Sick people and people with kids would prefer A.

NoName
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I'm taking a sick day right now - I've cancelled all my client meetings so as not to infect anyone and am working on various project via Terminal Server.

I love technology.

www.ChristopherHawkins.com
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

It seems I'm the only one who works for a really enlightened company.  We're about 100 people and we don't track time off at all.  Really.  Not at all.  We have one work rule here -- get your job done.  We have a couple strong suggestions:  don't  get your co-workers sick, organize your group's vacations so that there's always coverage, don't try to work when you're just going to screw it up.

I don't come in if I'm underslept, hung over, or enjoying a nice day.  When I call in, I'm honest about what's happening.  Nobody has a problem with it because my stuff gets done.  We've got other people who never take a day off, but they always seem to be behind -- that's a problem.

Because management trusts us not to abuse our "unlimited" time off, most people don't.  The people who do get called out by their co-workers and they either fix the problem or get weeded out.  This one policy does more to ensure employee loyalty than anything else they can do.  Knowing that if you have a family emergency (today we have two people out looking after critically ill family members), you don't have to worry about how this affects your vacation plans is a huge relief to people with family responsibilities.  Knowing that the only thing the boss will say when you return is "Hey, how's your mom?  How are you?  Do you need a couple days to rest up?" is priceless. 

Boofus McGoofus
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I worked for a relatively progressive company - until things changed.  We had a 4 weeks vacation out of the gate plus one day extra per year of service.  Plus unlimited sick leave included time off for dependent care (kids, parents, dog, car, you name it, anything goes, no questions asked).

Now that company has 4 weeks vacation (flat, no bump until 8 years I think) and 5 sick days per year.  Use it or lose it.  No carry over, no unused pay.

What f'ed it up?  Two c*cksuckers who took dozens of sick days to care for terminally ill parents.  The problem?  One guys parents died years ago and the other's parents lived in Texas (we're Ohio) and were as healthy as can be.

Once these abuses came out the other 30+ of us paid the price. 

Still Pissed... But I left...
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

<i>
Company A gives 3 weeks vacation plus 2 weeks sick.
Company B gives 4 weeks PTO to do anything.

Healthy people would usually prefer B.  Sick people and people with kids would prefer A.
</i>

I'm healthy but I'd pick A because that's 5 weeks off.    If I happen to plan a trip to Hawaii in antipication of being sick and needing some sick days, well I guess I'm just a forward-thinking type of guy!

Mr. Fancypants
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

too bad the company above didn't have the guts to sue for fraud... would be hard to prove, but either monetary payback or even (light) jail sounds like the right solution to 'caring for sick parents', or going to 'grandma's funeral' for the 18th time.

mb
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I only take off when I'm sick, which usually only happens a couple of days per year.

Except this year. After a mountaineering trip I developed a bad bug that had me in bed for almost a solid week, then another few days where I didn't have the energy to stay in front of the computer for any length of time.


Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I used take sick hours, for doctors' and dentists' appointments. As for "what's normal", you could ask your manager what his/her expectations are.

Christopher Wells
Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Still pissed, that sucks hard. It's amazing how a couple of idiots can ruin things for everyone. Just curious: How did the company eventually find out? And how long did it take before the lynch mob stormed their cubicles? ;-)

John C.
Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"Company A gives 3 weeks vacation plus 2 weeks sick.
Company B gives 4 weeks PTO to do anything."

I rather work for company C that gives 4 weeks vacation + sick leave....

Oh wait, I do, plus another week for the Christmas shutdown.

Mr Jack
Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I was hardly ever sick till having children then regularly catching bugs off them. Are you really expected to go in to the office when throwing up (out of both ends...) every half hour?

If you never catch these bugs, let alone any more serious illness, then please share your secret of eternal health!

Seen some stats to the effect that 1 in 5 people will suffer serious mental illness at some point in their lives. 1 in 6 will suffer heart disease, 1 in 3 smokers die young, 1 in 4 get back problems etc etc.  The fact that nobody has mentioned serious illness suggests to me that the age range of posters here is skewed to under 40's, possibly under 30's. When you get to 40, you start to reap the ill health you sowed in your 20's....

Finally, true story: A couple of years ago I had a bad year - 10 days off sick resulting in being hauled up in front of HR manager to explain my poor record. The HR manager was mid-30's, slightly younger than me, and said he couldn't understand how anyone could genuinely be so ill - he thought I was faking it as he'd never, ever had more than 1 day off in a year.

Soon after this, HR manager started getting dizzy spells, ended with collapsing in the street with massive heart attack and has not worked since.

We all need to listen to those who are saying that there's more to life than getting your bum on the seat in the office. More than being a faithful, loyal wealth creation robot for your corporation. Life is precious and none of us know what shocks may be just round the corner.

Mantissa
Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"Of course, in my kinder, gentler world, no one will key your car, so I guess I have to remain frustrated."

Classic :-)

Colm Larkin
Wednesday, August 18, 2004

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