Sick Etiquette

When to Call in Sick from Work, School, and Appointments

Sick man at work
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When it comes to getting sick, no one is completely immune. Getting sick is an inconvenience to you and everyone around you. It is difficult to avoid spreading germs all the time, but there are some things you can do to minimize causing someone else the same discomfort that you have.

Whether you have what is called a "common cold," the flu, or some other virus, you need to do whatever it takes to prevent spreading your sickness to family members, coworkers, and especially pregnant women, babies, or the elderly, who can get complications from a virus.

When to Call in Sick From Work

You might be someone who feels that you are essential at the office, and you're probably correct. However, when you have a contagious condition, you are putting other people's health at risk. And to top it off, your own condition might even worsen if you do not take proper care of yourself. Most employers provide sick days or personal days off, so use them when you are sick.

Since many offices use recycled air, the germs flow freely around everyone in their cubicles or open office spaces. If you have your own private office, going into the office may not be as bad, but you will still be in contact with others. Keep your hands clean by washing them often and using sanitizer or disinfectant wipes after coughing, sneezing, or even just touching your nose. If you feel you might be coming down with something, expand your personal space boundary and let others know you might be contagious.

When you are sick, you will not be as productive as you are when you are well. You are more likely to make mistakes, and your judgment will be off during those times when you have a fever. You owe it to your boss, coworkers, and company to do your best work, so take care of yourself at home and come back when you can give the company what they are paying you to do.

Reschedule Appointments

If you are feeling that you might be getting ill, take a survey of your calendar and obligations and see what you can reschedule. Your hairdresser, nail technician, or dentist will appreciate your consideration. If you are scheduled to have lunch with friends or business associates, let them know of your illness and reschedule it for the following week.

If possible, do not wait until the last minute to call. Service people, like at a salon and medical offices, will appreciate the opportunity to fill your time slot with someone else since they generally only get paid when they are working. The same goes for your friends, they will appreciate advance notice, so they can readjust their plans, if necessary.

When to Keep Children Home

As soon as you see that your child is ill, you should begin figuring out how to make arrangements to keep your child home from school. If the child is in day care, make sure you have alternate arrangements for sick days. This is important for school-aged children as well.

When your child attends school with a fever or a runny nose and cough, the other children will be susceptible to whatever bug your child is carrying. They, in turn, will return home as carriers of this illness, give it to their families, and the cycle of illness will continue. This is true for going to extracurricular activities like sports practices and other children's gatherings. 

Avoiding Sickness or Spreading It

If one person brings home a virus, and the rest of you start to get the sniffles the next day, keep the family at home to avoid spreading it to others. One or two days of rest may be all it takes to recover. Many viruses are only contagious during the initial stages or when you have a fever. 

If someone else is sick at home, work, or school, avoid that person throughout his or her illness. You do not have to be rude, but you can say that you do not want to catch whatever the other person has. If contact is unavoidable, wash your hands immediately afterward and wipe down all equipment, door handles, and anything else the person touches with disinfectant wipes or cleaner.

When your children get sick, it is more difficult to avoid them since a parent's touch often comforts and soothes them. Do not withhold your affection, but do whatever you can to avoid touching your face afterward.

There may be times when you have to go out while you are sick. If that is the case, avoid going to a hospital or nursing home where the individuals there have immune systems that may be weakened by your germs and viruses.