With the unemployment rate hovering at 4.5 percent, "calling in sick" or taking unplanned time off has fallen out of fashion to such an extent that experts have invented a word to describe it -- "presenteeism." The phenomenon results in employees coming to work even when they shouldn't.
That's right -- there are legitimate reasons to call off work. This article explores seven good reasons, and seven not-so-good reasons to miss work.
The rules below apply whether your company has combined paid time off (PTO), or separate sick, vacation, and personal days.
Valid reason 1: Contagious illness, such as the common cold or flu.
There's no better reason to stay home than legitimate sickness, especially if it's contagious. A sick employee is typically not a productive employee, and can spread germs to other workers.
Do yourself and your co-workers a favor, and stay at home until you feel better.
Lame Reason 1: You're hungover after a night out
Your organization and co-workers shouldn't have to pick up the slack for your good time.
Take a shower, have a strong cup of coffee, and suck it up. Next time, vow to make better decisions on work nights, for everyone's sake.
Valid reason 2: You need a mental health day
If you are feeling burnt out, and need a day off to recharge your batteries, schedule a mental health day in advance so you don't leave co-workers in the lurch.
Lame reason 2: Opening day of Major League Baseball
It can be hard justify missing an important personal event. Whether that be a sporting event, your fourth grader's band concert, or something else, it's hard not to let your work schedule interfere with your personal calendar.
If the event is that important, you should know well ahead of time when it's occurring. Instead of leaving co-workers hanging, schedule a day off in advance.
Valid reason 3: Family issues, such as sick child
Most workplaces are tolerant of a certain number of family-related absences per year. Sick kids, lack of childcare, or a spouse with a sudden medical condition who needs support or help are all valid reasons to miss work.
Lame reason 3: Beach issues, such as you would rather be on one
And so would everyone else in the working world. But, unless you are a supermodel who has a shoot scheduled for Sports Illustrated's upcoming swimsuit issue, your job is not to frolic in the sand. Instead of heeding the call of the ocean (or golf links, or tennis court), resolve to get to work early and be extra productive so you can cut out on time -- or maybe even a little early -- to enjoy a couple hours in the surf.
Valid reason 4: Severe weather
If the weather is severe enough to close roads, schools, and businesses, it's okay to call in sick.
Most employers are concerned about the health and safety of their employees, and do not expect them to risk their lives to get to the office.
Lame reason 4: Mildly annoying weather
Smaller weather-related issues, like the unplowed driveway you haven't gotten around to dealing with yet, or rainy-day malaise that's more conducive to PJs than a power suit, are not good reasons for calling in sick!
Call the plow guy, attire yourself in something extra cheerful, and get yourself to work!
Valid reason 5: Loss of a family member or loved one
This has long been one of the most acceptable reasons for calling in sick. It goes without saying that you should never use this excuse if it isn't true.
Lying about a death in the family is a particularly intolerable lie. Such lies cause coworkers and peers to forever question and wonder about your character and ethics.
Lame reason 5: You wish you could lose your boss
According to a poll done by the Conference Board research group, 49 percent of workers don't like their managers, so you are in good company. Instead of focusing on your manager's behavior, focus on your own.
Show up and do the best job you can. You'll likely move up the ranks, and maybe he'll be working for you someday.
Valid reason 6: Your toilet has exploded
Or your heating system is on the blink, or your well is dry.
Household emergencies happen, and it's okay to miss work to take care of them, as long as you miss only the amount of time that's needed to set things right.
Lame reason 6: Your workload has exploded
Staying at home with your head under the covers won't make your work go away, and will only postpone your problems. Instead of letting your company and co-workers down, show up to work with your game face on, and commit to getting as much done as possible.
Ask for help from co-workers, stay late, or do whatever necessary to catch up. Once caught up, sit down and design a time management plan that ensures future work will get done on time.
Valid reason 7: You have a job interview
It's okay to miss work for an opportunity that could have a positive impact on your career and future. If you are unable to schedule this in advance, be sure to keep your excuse simple -- no long stories or creative tales.
Lame reason 7: Your job is boring
Instead of wallowing at home, take positive steps to change the direction of your life.
Volunteer for extra tasks at work, ask your boss for more responsibility, or increase your knowledge and skill set by taking classes.
Consider your reasons carefully
Calling in sick may not always be an easy choice—but sometimes it's the right choice.
Before picking up the phone consider your reasons to call off work carefully. Determine the positive or negative impact of staying home on you, your co-workers, and your organization.
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