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The Case for Staying Home When You’re Sick

14 November 2017

Allison read If You’re Sick, Stay Away From Work. If You Can’t, Here Is What Doctors Advise. Perhaps this season more of us will follow this advice and reverse the culture of powering through when we’re sick.

Tags: allison read, balance, culture, healthcare, leadership

We have strict rules about not working when you’re sick at Allison Partners. Our team members know that if you look, sound, or feel sick, then Rachel and I expect them to use their Paid Time Off (PTO). That doesn’t mean any of us like missing important work, getting behind on deadlines, or using our PTO for things other than vacation. But we try to be disciplined about admitting we can’t do our best work when we’re sick, and we owe it to others to stay home.

I’m grateful to the author of If You’re Sick, Stay Away From Work. If You Can’t, Here Is What Doctors Advise. Daniel Victor interviewed physicians who explain when to stay home (until you’re fever-free for 24 hours and no longer spreading germs when you cough) and why (your coworkers will thank you and so will pregnant, infant, and elderly people you share your germs with). Like the flu vaccine, it’s important to remember it’s not just about you. When you push through and leave your home while you’re sick, you not only don’t do your best work, you also jeopardize others who may not be able to handle being sick as well as you can.

In his article, Victor provides a good list of things you can do if you must work while you’re sick or if you’re not sure if you’re still contagious. (Coughing like Dracula is my favorite, and he includes a YouTube video created to teach kids and grown-ups why it matters.) Finally, I appreciate that Victor addresses the issue that many people don’t have PTO and risk being fired if they stay home. There are organizations working to require laws to mandate sick days because exposure is a public health issue. While that’s being debated, I think those of us fortunate enough to have PTO should commit to using it and leaders in organizations should take steps to encourage people to stay home starting by staying home themselves.


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