Don't let a sick day ruin your reputation

Don't let a sick day ruin your reputation

In today’s busy world, being unwell is never ideal. It’s not your fault you’re sick and no one blames you, but in the professional world saying you won’t be coming into work can sometimes be tricky terrain.

In recent years, sick days, or personal days, have had some bad press – often due to the unscrupulous operators who 'take a sickie' simply because they feel like a day out of the office.

It’s not fair, but it’s a reality. You may be allocated a certain number of sick days, but doesn’t mean you get to take them for no reason.

Luckily, there is a right way to do it, which shows your boss you’re a team player. It will also help to keep your good reputation intact because let's be honest, we all get sick. But when you get struck down by a bug, your best bet is to follow doctors’ advice and stay home from work to protect your colleagues from your germs. 

If you’re genuinely unwell, follow our tips on how to call in sick to avoid a reputation for taking unwarranted sickies.

Understand expectations

Most organisations, and most managers, have a different take on sick days. It’s up to you to understand your rights and obligations. Often a medical certificate is required – even for a single day off. And ask your manager how they would prefer to be contacted in the event you are sick. Remember, not everyone is happy to receive the news via text message.

Let your team know ASAP

The sooner your manager or colleagues know you aren’t coming in, the sooner they can make plans to cover the workload. There’s no need to wake someone out of a deep sleep but try to make contact at least an hour before your scheduled starting time.

Apologise for the inconvenience caused

You can’t control the fact you are sick, but in reality your absence may cause some inconvenience. An apology for the inconvenience sends a message that you understand your responsibilities.

Take care of business

If you have any meetings scheduled, let the participants know that you can’t make it, or ask someone to step in on your behalf. Let your manager know if there are any pending deadlines or work that needs to be covered by someone else. There is an art to delegating, make sure you follow it. And if you have remote access, log on and put an out-of-office message on your email.

Say thank you

When you get back to the office, take a moment to find out what happened and who covered things in your absence. Show you appreciate their efforts and your colleagues will be likely to be happy to step up for you again in the future.

Tips on calling in sick:

  • Find out how your manager wants to be contacted and don’t leave a message with a colleague
  • Don’t wait until you are due in the office to let people know you are sick
  • Make sure your responsibilities are reallocated
  • Thank those who helped cover your workload


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