Your co-workers don’t want your cough



Every year, I catch a cold. Every year, I subject the people around me to my germs.

Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to use sickness as an excuse to call it in, unless I was physically unable to do anything but vomit and sleep.

My parents also considered gangrene a valid excuse.

Unfortunately, my whole “sleep is for the weak” mantra has ruined my immune system. Every time I get sick, I go through a period of denial until I break down and start drinking cough medicine to pipe down so strangers stop staring at me.

There really is no convenient time to get sick, and unfortunately, work keeps piling up when you start feeling crummy. I can tell you from firsthand experience that ignoring it doesn’t help either.

So what’s the etiquette on sick days? How sick do you actually have to be to take one?

If you’re feeling guilty about stepping away for a day, consider the study Staples did in October 2014. They surveyed 1,500 U.S. office workers, and 36 per cent said showing up to work sick decreased their personal productivity by more than half. Cutting your productivity in two is more problematic than missing work to take a sick day.

Not to mention you don’t want your coworkers resenting you for getting them all sick. If you have a fever, body aches and a cough, you shouldn’t be around other people. The more mucous and liquid your body produces, the more likely you are contagious, according to a 2012 Women’s Health article by Anna Davies.

Taking a sick day can actually save money because it lowers workplace contagion, improves worker productivity and ultimately means fewer visits to the doctor and lower employee turnover rates. Last month, The National Partnership for Women & Families in the United States released a fact sheet arguing for paid sick days for these cash-saving reasons.

Think about it – when you drag your illness-infested body out of bed and into work, you’re not being a hero. You’re ultimately hurting the bottom line.

But with all this in mind, don’t be the person who cried wolf. Make sure you save those sick days for when you really need them — like when you get gangrene.


Raegan Hedley is a sassy millennial who aspires

to someday become a kick-ass business professional.

In the meantime, she writes on her blog at

and tweets way too much (@raegjules).