How Do You Actually Use Your Sick Days?

In an ideal world, we'd rarely (or never) get sick enough to use our allotted sick days at work. It's long been a tradition to use a sick day when you just don't feel like going to work, need time off at the last minute or are worried your holidays won't get approved, but that comes with a risk. How do you use your sick days most effectively?

Photo by Edyta Pawlowska.

Obviously you should be using your sick days when your actually sick. You're not a hero if you come in to work and infect the rest of the company just so you can get a few more hours in on an important project. But sometimes you need a personal day (or two) for whatever reason and need some last-minute time off. Do you reserve sick days for that purpose and, if so, how do you handle the situation? Are you honest, or do you pretend to have a cold because it's the sort of lie that's really just a tacit understanding between you and your employer? Share your thoughts, experiences and strategies in the comments.


    I wish more people I have worked with over the years understood the bit about it being a BAD thing to come to work sick and get others sick. Unbelievably, at one company I was written up for referring to a co-worker as "typhoid Mary", because she came to work coughing up a storm, barely able to speak, for a week, and saved up all HER sick days at the cost of making me spend 4 of mine when I caught what she had.

    I use my sick days to get revenge when I feel that i have been taken advantage of at work. I report directly to the CEO of a public company and she lacks even the most basic human interaction skills. In short she is a c*nt, a word I have never used to describe a manager of mine previously, let alone a female manager. I have 2 children, one of whom is disabled and see flatly refuses (against the law) to provide me with the time I need to attend hospital appointments and such. I ensure I take my 10 days of sick leave each year. (PS - Friday is my last day with this firm as I have managed to work my through a 3 month notice period without stabbing her)

    @ben - what a biyach. I would have left too...and let her know what I thought.

    I use my sick days mostly for my toddler now. And the occassional hangover...

    I would never take a sick day unless sick. I remember once when I was in forces all the civilian canteen staff disappeared - it was end of year and they were grabbing unused sick leave....

    This year I have used one of my sick days to deal with the flooding in our apartment complex a couple of weeks ago. They term it "Personal Leave".. so it's not just sickies.. but also those ays when you are not really taking annual leave but need to take time off at short notice.

    Sick leave acrrues (I am pretty sure). I used up a couple of weeks looking after family. Work were very understanding, and as I had been there a few years and obviously wasn't trying it on, I was paid the whole time. Make sure you accrue some for emergencies.

      @Skyva - yes, it accures!

        While it does accrue, legally you are only entitled to take 10x Personal Leave (sick) days per year... so while you might have accrued 30 days of sick leave, your company has the legal right to only pay you for 10 days...
        I know, doesn't make any sense... and what company would actually police that?

          What law limits you to 10 sick days? Are you sure that it doesn't specify that you are entitled to a minimum of 10?

            T, actually you're just plain wrong. Sick leave in Australia accrues and you're entitled to take all the sick leave to which you are entitled at any time.

            What you may be confusing is an entitlement to sick leave without certificate. Most awards and agreements provide for a set number of days without certificate, and usually these are based on a calendar of financial year and don't accrue. So, for example I have over 300 hours of sick leave available to me. If I get a massive chronic illness, I can take them all and get paid for it. Woohoo, over a year off work unpaid. But I'll need medical evidence that I'm sick and unable to work.Which means I"ll have to be actually sick, and being sick for over a year does sound a bit sucky. If I don't provide that my employer only needs to pay for some days. Usually that will be about 5 days per year, and it's also usually restricted to no more than 2 days in a row (but all of this changes depending on your own agreement or award).

              300 hours isn't actually a year. More like 37.5 days.

    Depends on where you work... I fortunately don't 'accrue' sick days... in essence, ours are unlimited... but its case by case...

    Wouldn't try pulling a sicky after every public holiday though

    I like the term, Mental health day. Where you really cannot stomach the thought of going into work and watching your soul die a little more. So I have a mental health day also known as the i have a miagrane day) and spend the time at home working on my personal projects.

    It's quite rare that I've had to take more than 1 day off for being sick but even the common cold benefits from a single day off than dragging you along for a week or more of sniffling. Also when notifying your manager you won't be available keep it short and sweet: "I'm not feeling well and won't be coming in" suffices, anything more complicated sounds rehearsed and more like you're taking an actual "sickie".

    I have three kids ages 7, 4, 2 and we get sick pretty often. One gets sick and I'll take sick time for a doctor visit. The next child gets sick and I'll take a day off to care for the two of them.....then no matter how hard I try I get sick and now I am home still. At some point I end up using my sick time and then my vacation time because in the 365 day we get 6 days of sick time. But its better than nothing.

    I have 5 weeks sick leave, as I never get sick, I need 5 days over the 6 weeks xmas holidays to be with my daughter, and they won't let me take it from my sick leave, they said it will have to come from 2017 holiday leave, leaving me 3 weeks next year.
    Does anyone know if I can use sick leave.
    I have 5 weeks sick leave accumulated and it will never be used.

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