Since the job market is so competitive and so many people are highly driven in regards to their careers, there is a constant push by employees to ensure that they are at work every day.  However, there are times that this drive and the demand to be at work should give way to common sense and reason.  It’s just a matter of determining when it is necessary to stay home.

Contagious Diseases
In addition to consideration of your own health, you have a moral obligation, and a corporate responsibility, to consider the health of your coworkers and clients.  Therefore, it is important to determine if you are harboring a contagion that can be transmitted to others through the air or by personal contact.

  • Going to work while ill with a contagious viral or bacterial infection means you will exposure your coworkers and others at your place of employment to your illness.
  • Staying at home while you are contagious helps reduce the spread of the illness.

Physical and Mental Impairment Due to Medications
There are many medications that have the potential to incapacitate an individual, physically and mentally.  A person’s capacity to function safely in their work environment may be reduced.  This can be even more dangerous for individuals who operate machinery or vehicles as part of their job.

Medications affect people differently.  Once you know how you respond to certain medications, you can determine if the medications you are taking will interfere with your ability to do your job successfully or will negatively impact your safety at your place of employment.  For example, while some people are able to use certain cold medications without negative side effects, others may develop drowsiness or even become lethargic.  One type of cold medicine that is high-risk for negative side effects is antihistamines.   Another medicine that is high-risk for these type of side effects is sleep aids.  Even if these medications only make you slightly foggy, it may not be a good idea to go to the office as that fogginess can negatively impact your ability to do quality work.

Physically Incapacitated by the Illness
Some illnesses and conditions have the ability to completely incapacitate an individual.  For example, for some people a migraine can cause them to be unable to function.  When migraines are severe, it can be next to impossible to move around or even get out of bed.  In addition, some people experience sensitivity to light and sound.

Another illness that can keep people at home is the stomach flu.  Not only does this illness make you extremely weak, it can cause you to make frequent trips to the restroom, which will, at the very least, interfere with your productivity at work.  Additionally, the stomach flu is usually caused by a virus and is highly contagious.

Lastly, in addition to impacting your ability to function at work, attempting to work too soon can ultimately extend the duration of illness.  Often, the best option is to rest in order to help with your recovery.  While dedication to your job is admirable, sometimes the best decision is to take a day off so that you can return to work fully recovered and able to focus on your job.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Jackie Borst, PA-C

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