“You’re definitely sick. Do you need a note for school or work?”

I smirked as the nurse practitioner looked away to jot down some notes. An excuse note?

My 29-year-old partner had pulled on ‘comfy’ clothes of a tank top and leggings before I dragged her to Urgent Care first thing this morning. I tried to look at her through the eyes of this medical professional: did she look young enough that she couldn’t be trusted to be honest about her health? That she needed a medical professional to explain that someone burning with fever and shaking from coughing should stay at home?

Then the reality of the situation hit me. We both work for software companies that care about their employees physical and mental well-being, and if you’re sick, you’re sick. No questions asked. Well, maybe just one:

My boss: “that’s the flu…. be prepared for fever, chills…what do vegans do for chicken noodle soup?”

I guess we’re spoiled. We have jobs where we’re well-compensated and well-treated. We’re trusted to manage our work and our health, and not put our co-workers into jeopardy of also getting what I’ve coined ‘the death flu’. Because two days of Sara staying home and getting better has got to be better than four days of her being unproductive at work, and infecting the whole office.

I used to work at a marketing agency that did a lot of public health campaigns, and it’s still appalling to me how ‘staying home sick’ is still not completely socially acceptable.

Where does this come from? Is it top-down, or bottom up?

Is it a trust thing? You believe your employees so hate working for you that they’ll make up excuses not to come in?

Is it a benefits thing — where employees don’t want to waste their precious PTO so they suffer in the office?

Or does the problem stem from the employees themselves, where they don’t want to appear weak or lazy?

Let’s be real. We should all live in a world where it’s ok to be sick when you’re sick, and your boss can trust you’re not out fishing. Be honest, be respectful of others, and trust others will too. We’ll all be healthier for it, in more ways than one.

Sr UX Specialist with Canada Revenue Agency, former web dev and product person. 🔎 Lifelong learner. Unapologetic introvert. Plant-powered marathoner. Cat mom.

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