How sick is too sick to go to work?

Just how sick do you have to be to stay home? But how sick can you be to qualify for a day off?

Well, truth is if you’re really feeling unwell and especially if you have a fever, you need to stay home. You also have to consider whether you’re putting yourself or others at risk if you go to work.

If the symptoms of your condition, or the side-effects of medication could cause an injury or accident on the job, affect others, or if your work flow is interrupted and you can’t focus, then you need to stay at home.

Don’t put yourself and others at risk. Remember, some people are vulnerable to viruses and infections and can easily be infected; especially pregnant women, young children and older people.

Signs that you’re too sick to go to work:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoeah
  • Dizziness and confusion

According to research, airborne “breathing droplets” from sneezing and coughing commonly spread infectious germs. The flu virus can last for up to 24 hours depending on the surface. So, it’s recommended that you stay home until you’re fever-free for 24 hours.

Stay home, even if you think you’re feeling better especially if you have:

  • Limited access to a bathroom during the day.
  • Little or no way to wash your hands often.
  • Nowhere to store or use any medication you need.
  • To directly work with the public or with food that goes to the public. It would be unhygienic and unprofessional to sneeze, cough, and sniffle under these circumstances.
  • To work outside in the heat or in a strenuous job, like construction, and there’s no other option for light work.
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When are you fit enough?

If your health condition no longer affects your ability to do your normal duties, you may be able to return even though you’ve only partly recovered.

But make sure you’re actually well enough to work. After your sick leave and while you’re taking your prescribed medication, the best way to assess your current health is to ask for another appointment. Tell your doctor that you want to go back to work and ask if they think you are well enough.

If you’re able to be somewhat busy at home for a full day and have finished your medication, you’re probably physically able to return to work.

Good to know

  • Remember to wash your hands often.
  • Keep hand sanitiser ready and use it often.
  • Clean the common work areas with sanitising or disinfectant wipes.

Don’t be a hero and drag yourself to work if you’re too sick. And remember, your coworkers will appreciate you not bringing your germs around them!