The first Monday in February has been coined National Sickie Day in the UK. Statistically, this is when most people will phone in sick to work using a range of different excuses to take the day off. But have coronavirus and working from home policies had an effect on this year’s National Sickie Day? Are employees calling in sick when working remotely or has remote working led to more people working while ill?
Calling in sick when working remotely
The dramatic rise in working from home due to coronavirus and the social distancing measures looks likely to become a permanent feature for many companies, at least for part of the week. But while this brings many benefits to both employees and employers, it’s also likely to lead to more people working while sick, especially when it comes to organisations that have not ironed and communicated their sick-leave policies clearly.
When you work in an in-person office environment, nearly anything that prevents you from physically showing up to the office can be a valid reason for calling in sick. Whether it’s car trouble, catching a cold, or nasty weather, if you can’t get to your workplace and aren’t set up to work remotely, there’s not a whole lot you can do.
So, how about calling in sick when working remotely? When you work from home and getting to the office simply means walking down the hallway to your home office, there are far fewer reasons to call out of work. Ultimately, there are fewer variables involved with getting you to work which on a positive note means, you can more easily stay caught up on your tasks and responsibilities. But, despite this, it’s important to remember that there will be times when you really do need to call in sick when working from home.
Working from home is blurring the expectations of asking for sick leave
The nature of working from home often makes it more difficult to draw lines between work life and personal life, and at the same time, it is blurring the expectations of asking for sick leave. According to recent surveys, nearly a third of employees spend more time working than they did before. That means remote work leads workers to take fewer sick days and less vacation time, resulting in more workdays overall.
Furthermore, fear is playing an important factor in asking for time off when sick. Recent research commissioned by Panadol, says that our ability to take time off for ourselves has taken a hit, with 35% of workers claiming they feel too scared to take sick leave and more than half admitting they are more stressed and struggle to get things done.
Reasons for calling in sick when working remotely
Just because you do your job from home doesn’t mean you’re well enough to do it or that nothing will ever get in the way of it. Remote workers still need sick days. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some acceptable reasons to take time off when remote working.
When you’re actually sick
Sure, when working in an office, sometimes a headache is enough of a valid reason to call in sick or at least enough to make you want to avoid the stress of a long commute. But when you’re working from home and don’t have to face an hour in anxiety-inducing traffic, pushing through your headache may feel more doable. However, there may be times when you’re just too sick to leave your bed. If you’re feeling that bad, then what you really need is rest, not a day of working from the bedroom.
There’s a family emergency
Family emergencies can and do happen! When you need time to sort through any sort of family emergency and aren’t able to make up missed working hours, it’s time to call off working remotely and take time to figure out how to best care for yourself and your loved ones.
You’ve arranged a doctor’s appointment
The beauty of remote work is that you can sometimes schedule doctor’s appointments during the day and still catch up with your work later on the same day. But not all appointments can be done in an hour. If you’re going to have a lengthier appointment, it might be worth your while to take a day off. That way, you can focus on your health without worrying and stressing about work.
You suffer a loss
Although some people may find work to be a distraction during times of loss, there’s a good probability that your work performance will suffer. Moreover, taking care of our mental health is crucial. So, sometimes it’s better to take the time you need to grieve before jumping back into your professional responsibilities.
You simply need a mental health day
There are bound to be days when, despite your best efforts, you’re just not in the best mindset to work. And with so many remote workers having to juggle kids at home and other new responsibilities amid the pandemic, people’s mental health is suffering. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, or you’ve just had a really rough night, there’s nothing wrong with taking a day off if you truly need it.
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