If you’re sick, you should stay home from work. Period. However, for a lot of people it’s not that easy nor that simple. Here are a few reasons why, besides being an asshat, people come to work sick.
1. Not everyone gets paid sick leave. President Barack Obama has been working pretty tirelessly to remedy this problem, but it remains: Shift workers and those getting paid $9 an hour or less statistically get sick more often but don’t have the sick days necessary to stay home and get better while also making rent. It’s unfair and it’s unhealthy for everyone, because Time reports that a lot of food service workers are the ones coming to work ill.
2. Your corporate culture doesn’t breed healthy habits. Does your boss take sick days? Or does she pretty much encourage people to sleep under their desks and reply to work emails at 2AM? If you know you’ll get side-eye for taking a sick day, well, you’re a lot less likely to do it. But know that if you have the flu or can’t stop tossing your cookies, it’s not wrong to stay home, regardless of what everyone else will think of you.
3. You have to jump through hoops to recover. If an employer requires a doctor’s note for a sick day, it’s perfectly legal, but also pretty annoying. Sometimes if you have a cold that you know is just a bad cold, or debilitating menstrual cramps that have paralyzed you since adolescence, it’s a pain in the behind to schlep your sick self to the doctor’s office just to be told you should have stayed in bed and rested.
4. Your brain is still in recession mode. The recession may be “officially” over, but there are aspects of it that continue to linger in our minds (not to mention our paychecks). After 23 percent of workers were laid off in the recession, many are scared to jeopardize their current positions by taking a sick day. For whatever reason, focusing on our own health can be interpreted as a lack of dedication to the job. Be indispensable and one day away won’t kill you.
5. We don’t understand the bottom line effects. Going to work sick make you less productive than if you stayed in bed and just hustled a little harder once you got healthy again: You’re groggy, you lack focus, you don’t have the energy required to think clearly or perform tasks efficiently … and you’ll infect others who will end up doing the same and costing the company money.