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The COVID era reminds us why it’s worth taking a sick day

The COVID era reminds us why it’s worth taking a sick day

Last week, after a whole year of coronavirus-related calamities, I finally had my first COVID test.

With blocked sinuses and a sore throat, I took the advice of Queensland Health and got tested ASAP, despite the mildness of my symptoms.

I was, of course, negative, but the day I spent isolating at home gave me time to think about how to best take care of myself while unwell.

This was a change for me, because it had been more than a year since I was last sick.

I clearly wasn’t alone in getting through 2020 without so much as a sniffle. Australia saw a stunning drop in flu cases as more people stayed indoors instead of going out for work.

There are a great many things we’d like to have back from before COVID: going to restaurants without having to digitally sign in; not having to wear masks in crowded spaces; and no more capacity limits at sports and entertainment venues.

But one thing I’d like to keep from the COVID era is the rejection of the need to push on when we get sick.

In the past, people boasted about never taking sick leave like it was a badge of honour. Whether they were fortunate enough not to catch a serious cold or simply dosed up on cold and flu drugs before plugging away at their desks, refusing to stay home when they were unwell was apparently something to be proud of.

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Thankfully, those days are long gone. This is good news for ourselves and our co-workers.

While going into work with a runny nose and a sore throat may have been something you could manage, other people weren’t so fortunate.

Spreading germs and making other people unwell isn’t just careless, it’s downright inconsiderate, especially towards those who are immunocompromised and/or have kids without the immune system to weather the blows from getting sick.

Even from a work-focused perspective, you may think that youre benefitting your employer by continuing to work, but making others sick, and forcing them to take time off or work below their potential is actually more damaging.

Sick Burnie Burns GIF by Rooster Teeth

That’s why the best thing to do is to just take allocated sick leave. It’s there for a reason, and it’s time we destigmatised using it for its designated purpose.

I had to take some time off work when I was sick, and it wasn’t fun. But by taking things easy and letting myself recover more quickly, I was able to perform much more effectively when I did return to my desk.

It’s time to shake off the shame of taking the day off sick. In the long run, you’re doing yourself and your company a favour.