Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to call in sick without jeopardizing your job -

Eric McCoole, 38, called in sick on St. Patrick's Day in 2000, and no, he didn't have a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection. He didn't even have the sniffles.

"Being of Irish descent, I wanted to take the day off," says McCoole, a government employee in Alpine, California.

He called early enough so he could leave a message and skip the awkward talk with his boss. "The next day a supervisor came over the PA system and announced, 'Two people called in sick yesterday, St. Patrick's Day: Eric McCoole and Brian O'Malley.' Luckily, everyone laughed," McCoole recalls. "He said next year we should flip a coin to decide who takes that day off."

Ah, the good old days. Few folks in today's workplace are calling in sick even if they have a cold, the flu, or a sinus infection. Given the economic meltdown, the highest unemployment rate in years, and layoffs around every corner, workers are more likely to drag themselves into the office even when they feel like death warmed over. Is it a cold, flu, or something else?

The fear? If they call in sick, they won't have an office to drag themselves into the next day.

Why you should call in sick

While they might feel heroic, sick employees who come to work -- a phenomenon known as presenteeism -- can actually hurt companies. Even if you're not scheduled to scrub into the ER and save lives, you can still endanger others by showing up for work in a cloud of germs.

"You always have to weigh the risks and the benefits," says Dr. Aaron E. Glatt, M.D., a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America and president and CEO of the New Island Hospital in Bethpage, New York.

Glatt suggests asking yourself, "What greater good can I do by being there?" If it's not essential for you to go in, and you know you won't be productive, stay home. Is your job making you sick?

People who are coughing or sneezing (symptoms of illnesses spread by airborne transmission) should probably stay home anyhow, according to Glatt, as should anyone with an open wound or those incapable of keeping good hygiene. "We have to be conscious that we are not only taking care of our own health, but the health of other people," he says.


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