Well, with the current flu season being a bear and news of dangerous viruses coming to the U.S. from afar, most companies truly don’t want you to bring your illness to work.
This is especially true if you have a fever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to stay home from work until at least 24 hours after a fever of 100° F (or above) is gone. It’s important to note that you must take your temperature when you are not using fever-reducing medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to get an accurate reading.
Even if you don’t have a fever but are showing symptoms of the flu or other contagious illnesses — cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, vomiting or diarrhea — you should call in and take a sick day. In fact, when it comes to the flu, the CDC recommends you keep your germs away from your co-workers for at least 4 to 5 days after your symptoms begin.
5 reasons to stay home when sick
If the CDC’s recommendations won’t convince you, there are several additional reasons to take a sick day. If you stay home when feeling sick, you can:
- Stop the spread. A recent study found that a sick employee can spread their germs to up to 60% of commonly touched surfaces in the workplace in just four hours, greatly increasing the chance an illness will spread to co-workers. Even if you didn’t touch anything while at work, which is next to impossible, your illness could be spread through close talking, sneezing or coughing.
- Save your company money. One sick employee might not affect the bottom line, but if that employee comes to work and spreads their illness, it could lead to several sick employees and multiple sick days taken, which is certain to affect overall productivity. Experts report that the practice of coming to work when sick — sometimes called “presenteeism” — affects the U.S. economy to the tune of $150 billion in lost productivity every year. At a small company, a shared illness among employees could even shut it down for a bit.
- Protect others outside your company. If you share your germs with colleagues, they can then share them with their loved ones and others they come into contact with outside the office. If any of these people are chronically ill or part of populations more likely to get sick — such as older adults and infants — your shared germs could lead to severe illness, hospitalization and even death for those most at risk.
- Prevent future illness. Fever and other signs of sickness are the way your body tells you it needs a break. And when you listen to your body, stay home and rest, your body rewards you. Resting when sick helps to speed up your recovery, prevent your illness from becoming more severe, and boost your immune system to decrease your risk of future illness.
- Catch up on pop culture. With many streaming services — and just good old network television — there’s bound to be a few shows or movies you’d like to enjoy. A day of rest allows you to get well and catch up on what you’ve missed. Prefer to read? There is plenty of online content at your fingertips. And don’t forget the library. Your library card will get you access to free e-books and audiobooks you can download to your personal device.