As the weather cools, the sniffles are descending upon workers across the country. And many are showing up to work that way. In fact, it’s a pretty normal thing for workers to show up with a lot more than the sniffles. Some are on the clock with a temperature, and many show up to work even when they are contagious.
Of course, it’s a hassle to have to pull weight for someone who is out sick or to find a replacement, but sick leave exists for a reason. Not only do workers perform more poorly when they feel ill, they also pose a risk to the other people they work with. That’s why it’s important to call in sick when you’re, well, sick.
But how do you know when you’re sick enough to call in? Health experts say there are some important signs for any worker – or for that matter, boss or colleague – to know if they or someone around them are sick.
1. A high fever. If you have a high fever – above 101 – don’t go to work. If you’ve gone in to work thinking you have a slight cold, and your fever escalates, tell your boss you need to go home – or to the doctor, depending on your other symptoms – immediately. Fever is a common sign that whatever you have is contagious, and the last thing any employer wants is for their entire workforce to be taken down by the same bug.
2. A very sore throat. White patches on your throat plus a fever is a common sign of strep throat, which is highly contagious. A very sore throat is also associated with a number of other common contagious ailments, so see a doctor and then head home instead of to work.
3. A cough. A minor cough can be due to allergies or minor irritants, which you can work through, but if you have a cough plus aches and a fever, you may have a cold. You won’t get over a severe cold or the flu unless you get rest, so stay at home. You won’t feel well enough to get much accomplished anyway.
A severe cough along with mucus or shortness of breath can be a sign of bronchitis or pneumonia, so it’s best to see a doctor and stay away from the workplace until they’ve signed off on your health.
4. Stomach problems. According to experts, if you can’t hold down food, don’t go in to work. You could have a contagious stomach virus, which typically lasts one or two days. Food poisoning is another option, and the last thing you want to do at work is puke in the presence of your co-workers.
5. Pinkeye. Even though you might not feel miserable, the bright red, matted, gooey eye you are sporting is highly contagious if it’s the most common form of pinkeye. See a doctor, because this infection will need to be fought with antibiotics.
If you have one of these or other signs, chances are, you are too sick to be at work. Give as much advance notice as possible to your boss, but when you’re sick, do yourself, your boss and everyone you work with a favor. Call in sick.
Have you ever gone to work sick? How bad was it? Does your boss encourage you to take sick leave when you’re not feeling 100%? Let us know in the comments below!
Note: This article is not intended to replace expert medical advice. Please consult with your physician.