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LaurynJcat

How Much Sick Time Is "reasonable" Off From Work?

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Posted (edited)

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I'm wondering how much sick time people think is "reasonable" to be off work. As well as depression and anxiety, I suffer from irritable bowel, migraines, sleep troubles and menstrual issues. I also get colds or other viruses a few times a year. I tend to call in sick to work about once every 2 months, or about 6 times a year. Percentage wise, I'm off about 5% or about 10-15 days a year (my normal work week is 4 days/week). I would say that about twice a year I call in due to mental issues alone, such as depression or anxiety.

Most places I have worked, my absenteeism has not been a problem. Only now (ironically in a union workplace) does it get mentioned. Our "company goal" for absenteeism is 2% or less. However, the average absenteeism for my department is 8-10% (I work in a high-volume, high-stress call centre). So yes, I am below the department average. Still it's considered enough of an issue that it would affect my ability to get other jobs within my department. We get hounded about it because the department average is high.

I was raised to believe that one should never go to work while sick, except perhaps with something not contagious. I realize some people believe they should go to work no matter what, but I believe this idea is totally wrong, especially if you have something contagious. I get really angry when I see people at work with a bad cold (where I work we have full sick pay so that is not an issue).

So, I'm wondering what everyone thinks, and what others experience is.

I am tired of feeling guilty when I call in sick. I don't work in an environment where anyone will suffer much due to my absence (we have LOTS of staff). But in my job, I cannot do a good job if I'm unwell. I can't run to the bathroom whenever I need to. I can't "take it easy" like in some jobs, on a day when I'm feeling unwell.

P.s. I don't always call in sick when I'm not well. If I were to call in every time I felt under the weather, I'd be calling in at least once or twice a month.

Edited by LaurynJcat

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Posted

I personnaly don't think your percentage or six days a year is that high.

I've learned the hard way that most employers don't want to have employee's

with mental health problems . They feel they bought a horse with a bad leg.

I've had jobs when I was really struggling and was out once a week for a couple

months. It lead to my termination but I really hated it there.

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Posted

Hi Lauryn,

I'm a call centre worker, too, so I understand what you're going through. My absenteeism is actually much higher than yours due to mental health issues, and I have also received negative feedback from my employer regarding this. My company offers 10 sick days per year (5 paid, 5 unpaid), and that has been pretty standard at other places I have worked. After exceeding the allowable time off repeatedly, I realized that taking one day off here or there was not helping me resolve any of my issues, so I finally went on short term disability. Maybe this is something you should consider if it's available to you.

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Posted

Lauryn,

I think this absentee stuff has been getting worse over the past 20 years. It's gotten really bad at the schools here because some of their funding is based on it now. It's a real hassle because we were able to travel off-season before but with High School they frown on it saying kids need to be in school for education. I think experiencing other cultures or seeing oceans or museums in person is much more educational.

Anyhow, back to the work one. It seems that each employer has a subjective idea on absenteeism too. When I broke my leg and couldn't drive I had to take a cab to work every day and if the computers went down I paid taxi fare to go not get paid. Another time I also had 3 months unpaid leave by doctor's orders for physical health reasons where I couldn't work---the company held it against me even though I was one of the most productive workers with the lowest error rate. We had no paid sick days or personal days and didn't get paid if the computers went down even though we had to stay in case they came back up.

It seems that the modern business culture sees human workers as disposable. It's a sad state of affairs.

I don't think your percentage is high either. I also don't think that a high stress call center can expect a percentage under 5 at the very lowest and that's being extreme IMHO. I always hated when people came in to work sick since my immune system is compromised so I'd be off work for 3 days with the flu after someone near me came to work with it. So many illnesses wouldn't affect the absentee rate so much if companies used common sense and allowed people to call in when first sick so that they wouldn't spread it around. Nothing like being in an enclosed space with recirculated air when somebody is contagious and then hearing about your absence rate in your review. :(

Does Canada have any kind of disabilities act?

BTW, I admire you for being able to do that job at all, let alone with such a low absentee rate. I think I'd end up needing more "mental health" days than I already have.

Best wishes.

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Posted (edited)

I'm wondering how much sick time people think is "reasonable" to be off work. As well as depression and anxiety, I suffer from irritable bowel, migraines, sleep troubles and menstrual issues. I also get colds or other viruses a few times a year. I tend to call in sick to work about once every 2 months, or about 6 times a year. Percentage wise, I'm off about 5% or about 10-15 days a year (my normal work week is 4 days/week). I would say that about twice a year I call in due to mental issues alone, such as depression or anxiety.

Most places I have worked, my absenteeism has not been a problem. Only now (ironically in a union workplace) does it get mentioned. Our "company goal" for absenteeism is 2% or less. However, the average absenteeism for my department is 8-10% (I work in a high-volume, high-stress call centre). So yes, I am below the department average. Still it's considered enough of an issue that it would affect my ability to get other jobs within my department. We get hounded about it because the department average is high.

I was raised to believe that one should never go to work while sick, except perhaps with something not contagious. I realize some people believe they should go to work no matter what, but I believe this idea is totally wrong, especially if you have something contagious. I get really angry when I see people at work with a bad cold (where I work we have full sick pay so that is not an issue).

So, I'm wondering what everyone thinks, and what others experience is.

I am tired of feeling guilty when I call in sick. I don't work in an environment where anyone will suffer much due to my absence (we have LOTS of staff). But in my job, I cannot do a good job if I'm unwell. I can't run to the bathroom whenever I need to. I can't "take it easy" like in some jobs, on a day when I'm feeling unwell.

P.s. I don't always call in sick when I'm not well. If I were to call in every time I felt under the weather, I'd be calling in at least once or twice a month.

From hard and bitter experience, that is WAY too much time off to most employers. It is one of the reasons I could never keep a call center job (or any office job, for that matter). I was calling off 1 or 2 days per month. It salso didn't help, that the phone system where I was working at the time would beep every time a call got parked on each line while working with a customer. (I was recently diagnosed with Asperger's, which, with all the sensory overload, exacerbated my depression, since I couldn't very well rip the phone off my desk and smash it against the wall. I also melted down a couple of times in the workplace, due to all the stress building up. The slightest infraction would cause me to melt down.)

Has a doctor diagnosed you with depression? Is you job site in the US? If so, you might be able to get help with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) for some accommodation with your workplace.

Edited by meistersinger

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Posted

Hi LaurenJcat,

I am a teaching assistant in a primary school and, unfortunately, my percentage of absenteeism for the last year is 100%. I have been signed off with severe clinical depression now since February 2011 so I am still very lucky that I have a job! Don't know how much longer for though. I was paid full sick pay for the first 6 months, then half pay for a further 6 months but now I have been off for over a year I am on no pay at all.

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Posted (edited)

It could be worse. Where I work, we get only 5 sick days a year, and we can't always get them when we need them. They only allow three people in the whole buidling to call out per shift, so you have to be really lucky to get your call in first -- if others called before you, you can't get the day. There's no such thing as unpaid sick day -- if you don't get the day and stay out anyway you get "points" against you. One day would be a warning, two a written and three a last warning. After that is termination. These points stay on your record for a year. They also affect raises and promotions. The company has even given points to people who had a doctor's note, and if you're on disability or workers comp more than once or on 'light duty'... they will do everything in their power to get rid of you. Things like cars breaking down are not excused, being late also earns points against you. Basically you drag yourself to work no matter how bad you feel. I'm amazed I've been able to keep this job for five years with declining mental health (much of the decline caused by the job!).

Oh -- forgot to mention that whenever they want to they can 'block' a day or week at a time, which means no one can call in sick on those blocked days.

Edited by memyselfi10

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Posted

Thanks a lot for your responses, everyone. Obviously this is an issue a lot of us are dealing with. CosmoGrey, I've been on LTD before. I don't feel that I need that right now and I don't personally think my absence level is unreasonable. Good for you, though, and I hope you are able to get better. Time off does help.

CGeorge and onmyown -- I agree that workplaces in general have become much more strict about absenteesm -- to the detriment of those of us with chronic medical conditions. I have ALWAYS been off about the same amount (whether or not I had sick pay), and most of my employers have been fine with it as they know I'm not faking -- and as several of you pointed out I'm really not off that much.

I should add that in my years with my current company, I have NEVER been on "attendance management" which is what they put you on when you're basically on warning for too many sick days. It just gets mentioned in my yearly reviews because I'm over the goal. And also, as I pointed out, I have usually been under the average for my department.

memyselfi10, that sounds like a very unfair system. I hope you can get into a job with a more reasonable system.

branston I hope you are well enough to work soon, or that you can collect some kind of unemployment insurance. I can't imagine living on no pay.

I realize I'm very lucky to have paid sick time, and union protection. I could never be fired for being legitimately sick. I do actually have a lot of protection and I'm grateful.

Hugs to all

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Posted

branston I hope you are well enough to work soon, or that you can collect some kind of unemployment insurance. I can't imagine living on no pay.

Thank you LaurenJcat, it is incredibly hard living on no pay especially as I have a young daughter to support and being a single parent but I am managing to claim some sickness benefits. XXXXXX

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Posted

Reading the new comments here this morning made me think about my situation. I haven't worked in 17 years and have never held a full time job. I worked 3 jobs at one point that equalled out to full time but I just couldn't keep that up for more than a month.

I was fortunate to get money after my mother died that I managed well for many years of survival. Fortune isn't smiling on me any longer and my health issues limit where I can work---until a couple years ago I figured maybe fast food would hire me, but my food allergies prevent that, along with not being able to stand for long periods. I don't think about this very often right now as I'm struggling to just deal with the present, but I really don't know what I'm going to do at my age.

Best wishes to everyone.

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Posted

I admire you for even doing a call center job. I'd last about 30 minutes before I ran out - I have a phone phobia and get scared of strangers.

I think your sick rate is very reasonable. Most of the companies I've worked for offer 10 sick days per year, but I've been running above that. I missed two weeks at once back in May when I had a breakdown, and I've probably missed five or six days in addition to that. I'm hoping to get better now that I have all three meds working well.

I agree that people shouldn't come in when they're contagious. That drives me crazy! I don't want what you have, get into bed and stay there!

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