Navigating workplace politics and unofficial regulations can be difficult, and one of the most common dilemmas faced by everyday employees is a seemingly simple question: when is it okay to take a sick day? Let's take a closer look at the times when you should and shouldn't use one of your sick days to call out of work.
Yes - You Should Take a Sick Day
Doctor's and wellness appointments: You shouldn't put off going to the doctor, whether it's for a check-up or a specialist appointment, because you don't want to use sick days. Medical and health appointments are perfectly legitimate and normal reasons to use a sick day.
Feeling very unwell: If you have a minor cold, you can probably tough it out at work as long as you make sure to avoid spreading germs to others. But if you have anything seriously contagious like the flu, or debilitating like a severe ear infection, then it's best to take the sick day and stay home.
A child or someone else who needs care is sick: if you have an ill child, spouse or another individual who needs your help because of their illness, it's okay to take a sick day in order to help them out. If the illness turns into a long-term situation, you should contact your workplace to make accommodations.
Someone has died: If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, you should take a few sick days while you participate in funeral services and begin to process your loss mentally. Some employers may grant you time-off without requiring you to use your sick days after the death of a family member, but this can vary by company.
No - You Shouldn't Take a Sick Day
You want to do something fun: You shouldn't take a sick day just because you want the day off work to do something fun, like visiting an amusement park or going to the beach with friends. Especially in the hyper-connected social media world of today, where all it takes is a wayward tweet or social media photo to "expose" you. Wait until you have vacation days to take time off for pure leisure.
You're behind on your work: Never take a sick day to hide the fact that you're behind on your work and need extra time to finish. Not only is this bad for your overall work ethic, but if the ruse is discovered, it will shake your employer's trust in your abilities. The best course of action is to be upfront and honest about the timeline taking longer than anticipated.
Remember: As a general rule of thumb, taking a sick day should be done in circumstances where you're too ill or contagious to come into work; someone under your care is sick; or your mental and physical health needs attention in the form of grieving, rest, or doctor's appointments.