It’s flu and cold season, and that means some of you will be showing up to work coughing and sneezing. If your workplace doesn’t give you adequate paid sick days, that is awful and we feel for you. If it does, then you owe it to all of us to take them—especially the people who can’t take sick days. That’s why your goal this year should be using up all your sick days.
As Quartz points out, a flu can keep you contagious for a full week, even after your symptoms wear off. In an ideal world, every employer would encourage you to take sick days until you feel better, then a few work-at-home days while you get less contagious. In the real world, take what you can, and everyone wins:
If you still have some sick days left at the end of the year, fake it. Call in sick. It’s a mental health day, whether or not you admit that to your boss. Your employer has budgeted for this. And you’re normalizing sick days. If everyone on the team takes a sick day now and then, the ones who really need it don’t get stigmatized. Yes, this is bullshit to make you feel better about lying to your boss. It’s bullshit, but it’s also true.
If you are the boss, tell your employees to go home when they’re sick. Be firm across the board about this, so no one tries to be a hero. Employees love this, because we don’t have the authority to tell our desk neighbors to leave and stop sneezing on us. We’re relying on you, bosses!
Plus, remember that one CEO who thanked an employee for taking a mental health day, and went super-viral, and the whole internet fell over themselves to praise this guy for what frankly should be a normal policy? What an easy win! Take that win, and send your employees home this cold season.
Your colleagues don’t care whether it’s the flu or a cold | Quartz