We all have our days in which we’re feeling subpar or are flat-out ill. Of course, there are those occasions in which it’s tempting to blame imaginary sniffles for wanting to take time off on your birthday or after a heavy night of drinking. Below are tips about how and when to call in sick to work in ways that won’t potentially get you in trouble.
1) Talk to the boss preemptively. Is your throat getting scratchy and your sneezes more frequent? If so, you may be a day or two away from a nasty cold. In this scenario, it may be worth talking to your boss about what (s)he would prefer if you take a turn for the worse but still feel up to coming in. Depending on the nature of your office and your role, your superior may be the one to suggest that you work from home during such times, in order to not get others sick. If you’re in a service-oriented job in which you regularly deal with individuals, shaking hands while you’re steadily blowing your nose benefits no one. By understanding your boss’ stance prior to the illness striking in full-force, you’ll be more confident in your decision when it comes time to decide whether or not to call in sick.
2) When calling your boss, don’t make yourself sound sicker than you are. When you hop on the phone with your superior to let him or her know that you aren’t coming in, it’s all too tempting to be overdramatic. More likely than not, your theatrical performance will seem over-the-top and can raise an eyebrow or two. So, refrain from straining your voice, coughing directly into the mouthpiece, purposefully sounding disoriented, etc.
3) Inform your boss if your medications can impair your abilities. Taking any remedies that induce drowsiness, nausea or mental fuzziness is a legitimate reason not to go into work. If you know in advance that you’ll be taking such medications (for example, if you’re scheduled to have wisdom teeth removed), do your due diligence to let the appropriate people know as early as possible that you’ll be taking a sick day.
4) Don’t fake it on a Friday, Monday or before a holiday. Did you receive a random bout of food poisoning the day after Saint Patrick’s Day? It may certainly seem like a strange coincidence that your illness coincides with the morning after one of the largest drinking holidays. Be prepared for skepticism (or worse). If you genuinely are sick during one of these days, consider whether or not you can rally enough energy to come in for a few hours before requesting the afternoon off; seeing your willingness (accompanied by your sweaty brow and fever) will probably be enough to convince most employers of your honesty. If you aren’t able to come into the office, try not to worry about it this once; it’s when you start to establish a clear pattern of ONLY getting sick on Fridays that you’re really headed for trouble.
5) If faking being sick, be careful about being seen, both in person and online. It seems so obvious that, if you’re lying about having kidney stones, you wouldn’t want to take lunch in the park right next to your office building. However, this common sense does not often translate to social media. Plan on calling out sick the day after your best friend turns 25-years-old? Don’t post any photos or statuses depicting yourself as healthy during the day you call out; showing scenes of debauchery the night before; or even declarations along the lines of “Happy early birthday Mindy; I can’t wait to drink a lot of alcohol with you next Tuesday.” If you do feel the undeniable urge to share such sentiments, make sure that you set the privacy settings to hide them from bosses, coworkers, etc.