When you should call in sick to work

NOW: Being sick at work

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Doctors in the MaineHealth system report more calls from people describing symptoms of common colds this time of year.

Dr. Elizabeth Eisenhardt of Maine Medical Partners said Wednesday that more people report experiencing nasal congestion, sore throats, coughing, and fevers.

She said certain symptoms are telltale signs that one should call out of work and stay home to rest, such as a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

"That's a sure sign that your body is fighting some sort of illness, and is good reason to stay home at that point," said Dr. Eisenhardt.

Other obvious signs include vomitting or diarrhea. and anyone who questions whether he or she should go into work should call a doctor and check.

"Even for doctors ourselves, it's really hard for us to stay home, because we're in the profession that we want to help people that are also sick, but we also need to deep look if we're not feeling well and also not come into work," said Dr. Eisenhardt.

Not everyone chooses, or can afford, to call out of work. Many in the service industry, particularly waiters, rely on daily wages and tips.

"I think everybody does it. They go to work sick and they're afraid to take off," said Jacquelynn Ziel, who works as a funeral director. "I don't even think I've taken a PTO day -- maybe once or twice in the years I've been there."

Others disagreed, like Jake Nilsson, who said he notices his productivity decrease when he tries to work while under the weather.

"I'm worried about the day after that, and the day after that. I'm just going to wear myself thin. It's easier to just nip it in the bud and go home and sleep," said Nilsson.

Each workplace has its own policy. Many restaurants do not allow employees to come in for at least 48 hours after they have cleared some type of virus.

"Work is here when it's here. If you work in an office, the next day the work is still on your desk and you have to do it," said Millie Norton, manager at Becky's Diner. "Sometimes we all have to really step up and work extra hard when someone else is sick and we hope that someone else will do the same for us when it happens to them."

Norton said they do not want their employees to come into work sick.

Other professions have more discretion.

"Teachers come in, even when they're feeling a little off, and we greatly appreciate that, because finding subs is hard," said Superintendent of South Portland schools Ken Kunin. "If you're really sick, we certainly encourage folks to stay home."

Dr. Eisenhardt said proper hand hygiene is critical, and that people can prevent the spread of germs by coughing or sneezing into their elbows.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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