When you wake up sniffling, coughing and sneezing, you may think that you’ll win the “employee of the month” award if you trek into work even though sickness has taken over your body. But, in reality this is the worst thing that you can do for your co-workers. By “being a hero” and making the journey into work when you’re sick, you will effectively expose all of your co-workers to your sickness and they most definitely will not be thanking you!
There are a number of questions you should ask yourself when trying to make the decision whether you should go into work or not when you’re sick:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states “if possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick”. Cold and flu viruses are highly contagious and spread quickly throughout the workplace because people touch shared surfaces in the office such as phones, computers, and desks. It is important to take time off of work if you’re suffering with the cold or flu in order to prevent the spread of disease. It’s not just your co-workers that are affected by your illness, your co-workers who are exposed to the cold and flu viruses at work take these viruses home to their families. This may include infants, children, the elderly and those who have a compromised immune system. These individuals are at a higher risk of serious complications from the cold and flu viruses. It is important to help control the spread of contagious viruses such as the cold and flu.
The common cold, which has symptoms including, a scratchy throat, runny nose and sneezing as well as a possible fever is the most contagious for two days following the onset of symptoms. Staying home and resting when you have common cold symptoms will allow your immune system to fight the infection, leading to a quicker recovery (and a quicker return to normal work activities).
The flu usually impacts a person harder that the common cold, with symptoms of fever, chills, aching muscles, headache, runny nose, sore throat, cough, weakness and fatigue. You will need a few days off to recuperate from the flu and it is generally safe to return to work 24-48 hours after your temperature has returned to a normal level.
Related Reading: Immune System
In the long run, taking a day or two off due to sickness isn’t the end of the world. Your employer should understand that you need to rest to allow your immune system time to fight off the infection. You may need to remind your employer that you’re trying to prevent passing along your sickness to your co-workers by staying home for a couple of days. Staying home and resting up will help to minimize the spread of disease, which in turn, leads to a healthier community.
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