The idiots’ guide to calling in sick

Why is it that so many employees don’t understand the basic etiquette of calling in sick?

With flu season upon us, it’s invariable that people will get sick and have to take a day off. Lots of people have figured out that part of the process. The calling-in part? Not so much.

That’s why Ed Holton, Louisiana State University professor of human resources, leadership and organization development, recently ran this list of do’s and don’ts for calling in sick. Place them at whichever workstations you think appropriate.

Rules for calling in sick

  • Do telephone the boss directly whenever possible, if that’s standard policy.
  • Don’t use e-mail or rely on someone else to let the boss know.
  • Do give a brief explanation of your illness. “I have flu symptoms” generally will suffice.
  • Don’t go into too much detail. No one really needs to know, for instance, how many trips you made to the bathroom during the night.
  • Do explain multi-day absences. If you’re out more than one day, call in each day if possible and explain, particularly if you’ve seen a doctor who diagnosed a contagious illness, such as strep.
  • Don’t think that calling in one day will cover you for several days’ absences. Should the boss just assume that you’ll come in when you’re good and ready?

What rules would you add to this list? Do you have any good stories about employees’ misunderstandings about calling in sick? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  1. Vonl Mattson says:

    We had a nebraska employee call in sick from a ski resort in Wyoming. Thanks to Caller ID.
    We had an employee on work release because of “work related back pain” report he had slipped on the ice and hurt his back while getting his mail, so wouldn’t be in that day.
    We had an employee call from Omaha saying he would be a little late getting to Grand Island NE for work cause his car wouldn’t start. He said his was home in Grand Island. (Caller ID again).
    We had an employee call from Jail Collect saying he couldn’t make it in cause he couldn’t find his keys.

  2. bonnie neeley says:

    Don’t tell your co-workers you’re going on a job interview tomorrow and then call in sick.

  3. We had an employee call in because her husband was in the hospital with a possible heart attack. Later on that day, said husband showed up at our shop looking for his missing wife!!

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