Author Topic: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave  (Read 12286 times)

anadyne

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #100 on: October 22, 2017, 01:33:34 PM »
I'm oddly fascinated by this thread because I never really thought about the different workplace cultures surrounding what I used to believe was a simple, private accounting issue. So please understand this is a genuine question: What if you are HIV positive, and you frequently go for blood tests, or you're part of a research study, or your ARVs make you nauseated and tired, etc. Do you really have to disclose that to your employer? Or substitute a genetic disease, the early stages of pregnancy, infertility treatment, a new cancer diagnosis - pretty much anything that would be incredibly private and could also cause you to be discriminated against if it were revealed to your employer? Do you have to disclose, or do you just report series of doctors appointments and illness without detailing the specific issues, and everyone wonders?   

kimmarg

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #101 on: October 22, 2017, 02:31:50 PM »
I'm oddly fascinated by this thread because I never really thought about the different workplace cultures surrounding what I used to believe was a simple, private accounting issue. So please understand this is a genuine question: What if you are HIV positive, and you frequently go for blood tests, or you're part of a research study, or your ARVs make you nauseated and tired, etc. Do you really have to disclose that to your employer? Or substitute a genetic disease, the early stages of pregnancy, infertility treatment, a new cancer diagnosis - pretty much anything that would be incredibly private and could also cause you to be discriminated against if it were revealed to your employer? Do you have to disclose, or do you just report series of doctors appointments and illness without detailing the specific issues, and everyone wonders?

No, your private health is your business. All you are required to say at my office is "I'm calling in sick". The supervisor has the right to request a doctors note if you are sick more than 3 consecutive days, although I've never heard of this actually being requested. (And the doctor does not have to say why you're sick, that violates HIPPA rules it just has to say "kimmarg is unable to work for so long a time due to illness")

That said, yes of course you will get more questions from coworkers, etc if you are sick all the time and don't give a reason.

jim555

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #102 on: October 22, 2017, 03:17:19 PM »
I'm oddly fascinated by this thread because I never really thought about the different workplace cultures surrounding what I used to believe was a simple, private accounting issue. So please understand this is a genuine question: What if you are HIV positive, and you frequently go for blood tests, or you're part of a research study, or your ARVs make you nauseated and tired, etc. Do you really have to disclose that to your employer? Or substitute a genetic disease, the early stages of pregnancy, infertility treatment, a new cancer diagnosis - pretty much anything that would be incredibly private and could also cause you to be discriminated against if it were revealed to your employer? Do you have to disclose, or do you just report series of doctors appointments and illness without detailing the specific issues, and everyone wonders?
You can do a FMLA note that goes to HR, no one else will see the condition.  Also they can't fire you for absences related to FMLA time off.

dresden

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #103 on: October 22, 2017, 04:21:42 PM »
If the rules state you canít take sick leave except when sick clearly itís wrong to use it if you arenít sick.  There is obviously grey areas and individual situations.  For me I just do what is right and never had any doubts what is right.

If you have to talk yourself into doing something due to ethical concerns, the answer is obvious.

FIRE Artist

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #104 on: October 22, 2017, 07:07:53 PM »
If the rules state you canít take sick leave except when sick clearly itís wrong to use it if you arenít sick.  There is obviously grey areas and individual situations.  For me I just do what is right and never had any doubts what is right.

If you have to talk yourself into doing something due to ethical concerns, the answer is obvious.

This.

And donít underestimate the possibility of needing to take sick time. I was super proud of my 18 yr career with only 2 sick days (excluding usual annual physical and dental appointment), then 5 weeks ago I tripped backwards while doing yard work and broke my dominant hand wrist, I will be out for another 2 to 3 weeks. Having 16 weeks of salary continuation annually available before switching to short term disability really helps in these types of cases, and that is what it is for.   My public sector company does have an attendance policy and employees taking abnormally frequent short leaves on salary continuation would find themselves undergoing councilling with HR and the abilities group. 

TomTX

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #105 on: October 22, 2017, 07:38:33 PM »
If the rules state you canít take sick leave except when sick clearly itís wrong to use it if you arenít sick.  There is obviously grey areas and individual situations.  For me I just do what is right and never had any doubts what is right.

If you have to talk yourself into doing something due to ethical concerns, the answer is obvious.

This.

And donít underestimate the possibility of needing to take sick time. I was super proud of my 18 yr career with only 2 sick days (excluding usual annual physical and dental appointment), then 5 weeks ago I tripped backwards while doing yard work and broke my dominant hand wrist, I will be out for another 2 to 3 weeks. Having 16 weeks of salary continuation annually available before switching to short term disability really helps in these types of cases, and that is what it is for.   My public sector company does have an attendance policy and employees taking abnormally frequent short leaves on salary continuation would find themselves undergoing councilling with HR and the abilities group.

If I'm figuring your location correctly in the land of Tim - your average compatriot gets roughly double the annual leave time of an average American and has sane sick leave policies. 16 weeks salary continuation? Paid maternity leave? Amazing!
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lbmustache

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #106 on: October 22, 2017, 07:58:17 PM »
Let's say your company gave you a credit card for company expenses.  Would some of you justify buying a new bicycle for yourself? After all, it's "your" benefit.

Your example makes zero sense. A bicycle for yourself is not a "company expense." A company credit card is not your money that you have earned. Your sick time is what you earned for yourself to use.

That's my point.  Both sick leave and a company credit card are benefits given to employees for certain situations.  You are "given" something, and you are expected to use that resource based on the policy they set forth.  If you disregard the policy you are acting unethically.

I don't see how a company credit card is a benefit to me personally. I actively avoid getting one.
...alright how about a company car?  Let's say the policy is the car is only meant to be driven for work purposes.  In my opinion abusing sick leave would be similar to driving the car for non-work purposes.

What exactly is the difference between using a sick day if you are not sick, and using a vacation day to stay home if you are sick? The vacation day could be construed as "abusing" the policy, because that is designated as a vacation, correct? Is staying home sick a vacation?

LOL seriously?  You honestly don't think that vacation can be used for everything?

If vacation can be used for everything, why not sick time? I am asking you what the "ethical" distinction is between using sick time to take a day off if you are not "sick," and using vacation time to take a day off if you are not on "vacation."

LaineyAZ

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #107 on: October 22, 2017, 08:00:45 PM »
I recently retired from a Megacorp/Fortune 100 company.  Their sick leave policy had an insurance requirement:  after 7 consecutive work days off, it changed to short-term disability.  So if you were still sick on days 8+,  the need for a doctor's note was actually an insurance requirement because now the sick employee is getting paid under a different bucket of money.

Kepler

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #108 on: October 23, 2017, 12:16:41 AM »
I'm oddly fascinated by this thread because I never really thought about the different workplace cultures surrounding what I used to believe was a simple, private accounting issue. So please understand this is a genuine question: What if you are HIV positive, and you frequently go for blood tests, or you're part of a research study, or your ARVs make you nauseated and tired, etc. Do you really have to disclose that to your employer? Or substitute a genetic disease, the early stages of pregnancy, infertility treatment, a new cancer diagnosis - pretty much anything that would be incredibly private and could also cause you to be discriminated against if it were revealed to your employer? Do you have to disclose, or do you just report series of doctors appointments and illness without detailing the specific issues, and everyone wonders?

Your employer doesn't have the right to know what the specific cause of the sick leave is.  Doctors should be willing to give a note that indicates that you reported for a medical consultation on such and such a date, and the condition was sufficient to warrant time off work from x date to y date.  Many employers don't ask for a note for short absences, but just a statement that you are taking sick leave, so that can cover appointments for things that don't literally prevent you from working, but nevertheless require some time off.  But even for those, doctors can write a note just indicating that you attended a consultation on a specific date.

GuitarStv

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #109 on: October 23, 2017, 07:44:47 AM »
I'm oddly fascinated by this thread because I never really thought about the different workplace cultures surrounding what I used to believe was a simple, private accounting issue. So please understand this is a genuine question: What if you are HIV positive, and you frequently go for blood tests, or you're part of a research study, or your ARVs make you nauseated and tired, etc. Do you really have to disclose that to your employer? Or substitute a genetic disease, the early stages of pregnancy, infertility treatment, a new cancer diagnosis - pretty much anything that would be incredibly private and could also cause you to be discriminated against if it were revealed to your employer? Do you have to disclose, or do you just report series of doctors appointments and illness without detailing the specific issues, and everyone wonders?

Your employer doesn't have the right to know what the specific cause of the sick leave is.  Doctors should be willing to give a note that indicates that you reported for a medical consultation on such and such a date, and the condition was sufficient to warrant time off work from x date to y date.  Many employers don't ask for a note for short absences, but just a statement that you are taking sick leave, so that can cover appointments for things that don't literally prevent you from working, but nevertheless require some time off.  But even for those, doctors can write a note just indicating that you attended a consultation on a specific date.

Doctors in Canada have specifically requested that employers stop asking for these notes as our system was being clogged up with people trying to get notes who would get better by resting at home.

BFGirl

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #110 on: October 23, 2017, 10:47:53 AM »
I'm oddly fascinated by this thread because I never really thought about the different workplace cultures surrounding what I used to believe was a simple, private accounting issue. So please understand this is a genuine question: What if you are HIV positive, and you frequently go for blood tests, or you're part of a research study, or your ARVs make you nauseated and tired, etc. Do you really have to disclose that to your employer? Or substitute a genetic disease, the early stages of pregnancy, infertility treatment, a new cancer diagnosis - pretty much anything that would be incredibly private and could also cause you to be discriminated against if it were revealed to your employer? Do you have to disclose, or do you just report series of doctors appointments and illness without detailing the specific issues, and everyone wonders?

Your employer doesn't have the right to know what the specific cause of the sick leave is.  Doctors should be willing to give a note that indicates that you reported for a medical consultation on such and such a date, and the condition was sufficient to warrant time off work from x date to y date.  Many employers don't ask for a note for short absences, but just a statement that you are taking sick leave, so that can cover appointments for things that don't literally prevent you from working, but nevertheless require some time off.  But even for those, doctors can write a note just indicating that you attended a consultation on a specific date.

Doctors in Canada have specifically requested that employers stop asking for these notes as our system was being clogged up with people trying to get notes who would get better by resting at home.

Fortunately, my current department doesn't require a doctor's note unless you are out several days.  One of my pet peeves is all my coworkers asking if I'm going to go to the doctor when I have a damn cold and am out for a couple of days.  The doctor can't do anything for that other than tell me to rest and stay hydrated.  If I run a fever for a couple of days I'll go, but it makes no sense for me to spend half my day and risk making others sick to "document" my illness.

As far as sick leave, I consider it a benefit that is part of my compensation.  I don't get paid for it when I depart service, so I'm going to use it as I see fit.  They reclassified our time into "personal days" and vacation a few years ago, so the "sick" thing isn't that big of a deal anymore.  However, I do keep in mind whether or not my being out will adversely affect another coworker or if there a deadline I need to meet.  I used to go in even if I was feeling like crap, but have decided to be nicer to myself and use the time if I am not feeling well.  That said, I still went in sick a couple of weeks ago because a coworker I cover for was on vacation and I needed to cover for her.

I am in the "it's not unethical camp", provided that you aren't unduly overburdening your coworkers.

PoutineLover

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #111 on: October 23, 2017, 11:29:52 AM »
I see nothing wrong with taking sick leave when you are sick or need the days off for mental health or other appointments. It's annoying when people take way more sick days than anyone else at jobs where others have to pick up the slack, but I'd give them the benefit of the doubt in case they have an invisible condition or they are the primary caregiver for young kids. At my work, I get 9 sick days, no reason needed, and I only need a note if I have to take more than 2 in a row. I also get 2 personal days, which can be scheduled in advance, so they are useful for pre-planned appointments. Vacation is separate and I always take all of my vacation, or I'll lose it. I've only used about 1/3 of my sick days, because I don't like to take it when I don't need it, and I don't want to run out in case I really need it, so I don't use it just because. If I'm sick it usually doesn't impact my team, so I don't feel guilty about it and I figure it's a benefit I'm entitled to so why not use it.

me1

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #112 on: October 23, 2017, 12:02:14 PM »
I can see how it would be unethical if you impact your co-workers. But if you don't, I don't see how it's unethical in any way.
No one else at work can do the work for me. we all have very specialized roles and it does not impact them at all. So I just make sure and let the clients know if I anticipate a change in when I can deliver the finished product to them. And it's all fine. I don't see how it hurts anyone.
I have only taken 3 sick days in as many years. They have mostly been in order to catch up on work, which I wasn't turning around fast enough. so they got some extra work out of me for free. Maybe what's unethical is that my workplace assigns me an unethically high amount of work, that it's sometimes not possible to finish within the allotted time that I have to take a sick day to do it?

EricL

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #113 on: October 23, 2017, 12:05:40 PM »
I say listen to your Catholic guilt.  You might need those sick days for real in the last 3 years or so.  And unless your employer is an exploitative, toxic organization, you'll feel a lot better knowing you put in 100% for them when you're FIRE'd. 
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mm1970

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #114 on: October 23, 2017, 12:13:56 PM »
Let's say your company gave you a credit card for company expenses.  Would some of you justify buying a new bicycle for yourself? After all, it's "your" benefit.

Your example makes zero sense. A bicycle for yourself is not a "company expense." A company credit card is not your money that you have earned. Your sick time is what you earned for yourself to use.

That's my point.  Both sick leave and a company credit card are benefits given to employees for certain situations.  You are "given" something, and you are expected to use that resource based on the policy they set forth.  If you disregard the policy you are acting unethically.

I don't see how a company credit card is a benefit to me personally. I actively avoid getting one.
...alright how about a company car?  Let's say the policy is the car is only meant to be driven for work purposes.  In my opinion abusing sick leave would be similar to driving the car for non-work purposes.
I would say it depends entirely on:
1.  The state
2.  The type of sick leave.

If you work in a state that requires companies to pay out accrued sick leave or vacation (like mine), then, take it.  It's yours.

If you work in a company that gives you specific sick days - a certain # a year, and it's use or lose - then take it. (If you aren't able to accrue sick time for an "oh shit" year, then why accrue it?)

If you work in a job for a company (like I did for many many years), that has a "if you are sick, stay home" policy for exempt employees - then you should only use it when you are sick.  I'd like to add that for MOST of those years, having a sick kid didn't count - you needed to take vacation for that.  (What we did was each take 1/2 day, and make up the time during the rest of the pay period).  In this case, you aren't accruing specific sick time - the company just wants you to take what you need, it's not on the books, and wants you to stay home if you are sick.

In this case, be smart - don't abuse it.  The company policy was ALSO to give you "sick" time for your first week after having a baby before disability or mat leave kicked in.  When they made the switch to PTO (adding 5 days sick + 9 holidays to our vacation time), I was PISSED. (Even though, in 7 years, my average sick time per year was probably 2-4 days.) My coworker was thrilled!  More vacation time, I never take sick time!  BECAUSE YOU COME TO WORK SICK YOU IDIOT.  Yay, I earned 2-3 extra days off per year, but then I had to work with sick people.

mm1970

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #115 on: October 23, 2017, 12:20:55 PM »
If the rules state you canít take sick leave except when sick clearly itís wrong to use it if you arenít sick.  There is obviously grey areas and individual situations.  For me I just do what is right and never had any doubts what is right.

If you have to talk yourself into doing something due to ethical concerns, the answer is obvious.
Related questions, how many companies actually have a hand book? Mine doesn't.

golden1

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #116 on: October 23, 2017, 01:59:30 PM »
Every company I have ever worked for has a handbook, but my husband, who runs a small start up has not made one as far as I know.

I have worked for two companies that have ďunlimited sick timeĒ, and one that had a strict 5 days per year of sick/personal time.  I prefer the former.  With the limited sick time, I had two young kids, and even with splitting the times my kids were sick with my husband, 5 days a year was not enough most years, and I ended up eating into my pitiful vacation time to take sick time off or going into work sick.  It really sucked.  Everyone was sick all the time at that job because no one stayed home unless they were physically incapacitated.  I am now at an ďunlimited sick and personal timeĒ job. 

Unlimited sick time is a double edged sword.  There is a bit of peer pressure here, where people rarely take sick time for fear of being seen as an abuser.  But the company seems to have put some thought into keeping people healthy.  They have a health and wellness counselor, the bathrooms are touchless to reduce the spread of germs etc....  I donít see a ton of sick people here so far, but it has been spring and summer so that may change.   


johndoe

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #117 on: October 23, 2017, 03:04:37 PM »
Let's say your company gave you a credit card for company expenses.  Would some of you justify buying a new bicycle for yourself? After all, it's "your" benefit.

Your example makes zero sense. A bicycle for yourself is not a "company expense." A company credit card is not your money that you have earned. Your sick time is what you earned for yourself to use.

That's my point.  Both sick leave and a company credit card are benefits given to employees for certain situations.  You are "given" something, and you are expected to use that resource based on the policy they set forth.  If you disregard the policy you are acting unethically.

I don't see how a company credit card is a benefit to me personally. I actively avoid getting one.
...alright how about a company car?  Let's say the policy is the car is only meant to be driven for work purposes.  In my opinion abusing sick leave would be similar to driving the car for non-work purposes.

What exactly is the difference between using a sick day if you are not sick, and using a vacation day to stay home if you are sick? The vacation day could be construed as "abusing" the policy, because that is designated as a vacation, correct? Is staying home sick a vacation?

LOL seriously?  You honestly don't think that vacation can be used for everything?

If vacation can be used for everything, why not sick time? I am asking you what the "ethical" distinction is between using sick time to take a day off if you are not "sick," and using vacation time to take a day off if you are not on "vacation."

It's blowing my mind that someone who earlier in this thread identified themselves as a college professor can't understand this distinction. 

For instance, here's the policy for federal employees: "Sick leave is a paid absence from duty. An employee is entitled to use sick leave for personal medical needs, family care or bereavement, care of a family member with a serious health condition, or adoption-related purposes."  Here's what their website says about vacation (annual leave): "An employee may use annual leave for vacations, rest and relaxation, and personal business or emergencies. An employee has a right to take annual leave, subject to the right of the supervisor to schedule the time at which annual leave may be taken."  If you tell us where you teach I'll search the policy for you.

The Fake Cheap

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #118 on: October 23, 2017, 05:35:59 PM »

It appears most people that have commented are in the camp of "if you have sick time, you should take it because you have earned it" or something along those lines.  I'm wondering if these people feel this also applies if the employer happens to be the government?  It could be federal/state/provincial/municipal government.  Specifically does it make a difference if it is tax payer money that would be paying for people to take their earned sick time off, even when he/she is not sick, since "this sick time has been earned."


Brother Esau

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #119 on: October 23, 2017, 05:42:34 PM »

It appears most people that have commented are in the camp of "if you have sick time, you should take it because you have earned it" or something along those lines.  I'm wondering if these people feel this also applies if the employer happens to be the government?  It could be federal/state/provincial/municipal government.  Specifically does it make a difference if it is tax payer money that would be paying for people to take their earned sick time off, even when he/she is not sick, since "this sick time has been earned."

I didn't make the rules, I'm playing by them.

ixtap

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #120 on: October 23, 2017, 05:51:14 PM »

It appears most people that have commented are in the camp of "if you have sick time, you should take it because you have earned it" or something along those lines.  I'm wondering if these people feel this also applies if the employer happens to be the government?  It could be federal/state/provincial/municipal government.  Specifically does it make a difference if it is tax payer money that would be paying for people to take their earned sick time off, even when he/she is not sick, since "this sick time has been earned."

I didn't make the rules, I'm playing by them.

Now, you are being them in your favor.

One if the arguments out forth is that the company has alree budgeted for it. That doesn't seem likely to me. If a company has a use it or lose it policy, they have likely budgeted for some percentage to go unused.

lbmustache

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #121 on: October 23, 2017, 06:47:57 PM »

It appears most people that have commented are in the camp of "if you have sick time, you should take it because you have earned it" or something along those lines.  I'm wondering if these people feel this also applies if the employer happens to be the government?  It could be federal/state/provincial/municipal government.  Specifically does it make a difference if it is tax payer money that would be paying for people to take their earned sick time off, even when he/she is not sick, since "this sick time has been earned."

I am employed by the state government. Forgive me, but I don't quite understand the link. Are you saying because I take a day off, I am wasting tax-payer money? How so?

retired?

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #122 on: October 23, 2017, 08:30:39 PM »
I have gotten the impression that it varies by the sort of employer, in particular private vs. public being the main distinction.

I think all my employers had "unlimited sick" and you took it when you needed to.  The thinking was 'we're all adults, get your work done, and it won't be hard to detect when the policy is being abused'.  One switched to a single PTO bucket as I was leaving, and, being one of those that didn't get sick, I liked it.  Also, co-workers didn't want you coming in if you were sick.

None of these employers rolled over sick (since no specific number of days) and a max of one week vaca could be rolled over each year.  Private firms don't seem to like rolling over too much since, accounting-wise, it creates a liability on the books.

BUT, for entities that roll over unlimited amounts of sick and vaca, it seems the viewpoint is different.  It seems more standard to view it as "I've earned it, so why not".

The example I have in mind is my spouse.  Her employer has no limit on roll overs.  But, it is only paid out if you "retire" with the employer (where there is a specific definition of "retire").  But, if you leave in a way that does not qualify you for official retirement, then you get nothing.  Folks who know they are leaving and won't get paid out have no qualms taking as much as possible.  About 80% aren't dumping work on co-workers.

So, I'd try to determine what is 'accepted'.  There is often a policy yet the accepted norm is different. 

dresden

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #123 on: October 23, 2017, 09:30:08 PM »
If the rules state you canít take sick leave except when sick clearly itís wrong to use it if you arenít sick.  There is obviously grey areas and individual situations.  For me I just do what is right and never had any doubts what is right.

If you have to talk yourself into doing something due to ethical concerns, the answer is obvious.
Related questions, how many companies actually have a hand book? Mine doesn't.

I never really needed a manual to understand what sick day means or to understand the right or wrong way to use that benefit.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #124 on: October 24, 2017, 04:14:07 AM »
'Chucking a sickie' is fairly a well known practice here.

That said, I don't do it. I'd rather keep my leave for when I actually need it (like last year when I broke my leg). That and my employer requires a medical certificate if more than 38 hours of sick leave are taken per year.

Although if I am sick, you bet I'm taking the leave. If I've got a cold, I'd rather take a day or two off to rest and recover than go into work feeling like shit and still be crook a week later.

I could have taken a couple hours of sick leave on Monday arvo (wasn't 100%) but I had to stay to finish something. Sometimes there's critical tasks that need to be done :)

Vegasgirl

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #125 on: October 24, 2017, 06:01:15 AM »
Well I just went in and checked my sick leave balance - 1470 hours.  Like OP my accumulated sick leave goes toward credited service upon retirement but only in one month increments.  It is common practice for us to use sick leave down to an even month so that nothing is lost.  I've decided though to also use a month for extra payout into my deferred comp by using sick rather than annual leave and letting annual leave accrue to the amount I want payed out.  I always felt guilty about using sick leave when not really sick and thus I've accumulated a lot over the years, but now I'm to the point where I'm going to manipulate it to get what I want upon FIRE in about 13-15 months.  I'll be using 1-2 days per month in lieu of annual leave.

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #126 on: October 24, 2017, 06:18:00 AM »
I view my sick days as vacation days.  I get 10 per year...I cannot carry them over.  If I do not use them I lose them...they never get paid out.  I use 10 sick days per year...for the past 5 years.  I space them out through the 12 month cycle.  Couldnt care less.

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #127 on: October 24, 2017, 10:43:39 AM »
If the rules state you canít take sick leave except when sick clearly itís wrong to use it if you arenít sick.  There is obviously grey areas and individual situations.  For me I just do what is right and never had any doubts what is right.

If you have to talk yourself into doing something due to ethical concerns, the answer is obvious.
Related questions, how many companies actually have a hand book? Mine doesn't.

I never really needed a manual to understand what sick day means or to understand the right or wrong way to use that benefit.

That's interesting because at my last company - we did need it.  You see, we had "unlimited sick time" for years.  If you were sick, you were expected to stay home.  If you were out more than 3 days, they *could* request a doctor's note.

Now, our company HQ was on the East Coast, but California went ahead and passed a law saying that employers are required to allow employees to use sick time to care for sick children.  Thus, my company had to change their manual to allow for that.  Also, pregnancy throws another wrench in there with FMLA - so our company manual had to follow federal law too - this meant that if you were out sick due to morning sickness - you were supposed to take sick time AND count it as FMLA.  Similarly, if you missed work due to doctor's appointments - sick time + FMLA.

Now add on having a baby - the company policy was for the first week before CA PDL (for CA employees) or Mat Leave (HQ employees), you took sick time + FMLA.

Complicated, right? It can be when you are dealing with multiple states. The only time the company REALLY looked into anything was when you were out sick more than 25-30 days in a year.

Eventually, the company went to PTO.  That meant it didn't really matter, but they had to update the manual again. 

The other complicated issue was with vacation - you see, HQ had a "use or lose" provision with vacation.  Vacation was reasonably generous - you started at 2 weeks and earned an extra day each year, capping out at 6 weeks (I was at 19 days when I left).  However, use or lose, and if you leave, you don't get paid out.  Unfortunately for the company, CA state law REQUIRES you to pay out unused vacation when you leave and does not allow companies to take away what you've earned.

Thus, another policy change.  Instead of use or lose, they started allowing HQ employees to carry over one week AND they put a cap on what you could accrue (for everyone, but mainly CA employees).  So, once you accrued...4 weeks? 6 weeks?  Depends on how long you've been there, you no longer accrue vacation time.

Our current company had "unlimited" sick time for awhile, before they moved to PTO.  It made it a bit tricky for sick time and short term disability, both for child birth and for surgeries/ injuries.  The switch to PTO came with new guidelines on when to use it (dr appts, sick, sick kids, or whatever you want!)  However, even though they went over the switch in a company meeting (because the total # of days off stayed the same, but it was accrued differently), they never updated the manual.  So, there isn't one.  In fact, I think we had one year where they switched from unlimited to 5 days, and THEN switched over to PTO.

It really isn't all that simple when you are talking about different types of employees (exempt vs non), different states, short term disability, pregnancy, different ways of earning it, whether or not the company pays it out, whether or not it is use or lose. 

Unlimited sick time = don't abuse it.

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #128 on: October 24, 2017, 06:11:20 PM »

It appears most people that have commented are in the camp of "if you have sick time, you should take it because you have earned it" or something along those lines.  I'm wondering if these people feel this also applies if the employer happens to be the government?  It could be federal/state/provincial/municipal government.  Specifically does it make a difference if it is tax payer money that would be paying for people to take their earned sick time off, even when he/she is not sick, since "this sick time has been earned."

I am employed by the state government. Forgive me, but I don't quite understand the link. Are you saying because I take a day off, I am wasting tax-payer money? How so?

Yes, that is basically what I was asking, for anyone who was in the "you earned it you should take it" camp.  Generally speaking if Bill at MEGA Corp calls in sick, it makes no difference to the tax payer.  However, if a federal/state/provincial employee take sick days, just because they have earned it, this is basically tax payer money paying for Skippy to stay home all day and play video games or whatever the case may be.

And just for the record I'm kind of on the fence in this debate, I think for me it is a case by case basis, whether the employer is private or public.

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #129 on: October 25, 2017, 02:50:28 AM »

It appears most people that have commented are in the camp of "if you have sick time, you should take it because you have earned it" or something along those lines.  I'm wondering if these people feel this also applies if the employer happens to be the government?  It could be federal/state/provincial/municipal government.  Specifically does it make a difference if it is tax payer money that would be paying for people to take their earned sick time off, even when he/she is not sick, since "this sick time has been earned."

I am employed by the state government. Forgive me, but I don't quite understand the link. Are you saying because I take a day off, I am wasting tax-payer money? How so?

Yes, that is basically what I was asking, for anyone who was in the "you earned it you should take it" camp.  Generally speaking if Bill at MEGA Corp calls in sick, it makes no difference to the tax payer.  However, if a federal/state/provincial employee take sick days, just because they have earned it, this is basically tax payer money paying for Skippy to stay home all day and play video games or whatever the case may be.

And just for the record I'm kind of on the fence in this debate, I think for me it is a case by case basis, whether the employer is private or public.
Generally speaking if Bill at MEGA Corp takes sick days, just because he has earned it, this is basically shareholder money paying for Skippy to stay home all day and play video games or whatever the case may be.
Be frugal and industrious, and you will be free (Ben Franklin)

arebelspy

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #130 on: October 25, 2017, 07:11:18 AM »
Related to the "wasting taxpayer money" question immediately above this post, how about this scenario (true story):
I'm a teacher. I have a bunch of sick days. I'm going to FIRE. They all disappear when I do (no payouts or anything). These are days I've "earned" from 8 years of working and being less sick than the rate they accumulate.

If I do take a sick day, the district needs to hire a substitute. In that case, I get my normal pay, but my sick day counter just decreases by one. It literally DOES cost the school district, and thus the taxpayers, extra money, each time I take one.

If I don't take them though, it saves them money overall (versus a teacher who took them all, one genuinely sick, or not).

Does that change anything in the calculus?

(FWIW, Ali and I FIRE'd with over 60 sick days each that went poof... and we did have the discussion that's going on in this thread our last year of working.)
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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #131 on: October 25, 2017, 08:16:59 AM »
Related to the "wasting taxpayer money" question immediately above this post, how about this scenario (true story):
I'm a teacher. I have a bunch of sick days. I'm going to FIRE. They all disappear when I do (no payouts or anything). These are days I've "earned" from 8 years of working and being less sick than the rate they accumulate.

If I do take a sick day, the district needs to hire a substitute. In that case, I get my normal pay, but my sick day counter just decreases by one. It literally DOES cost the school district, and thus the taxpayers, extra money, each time I take one.

If I don't take them though, it saves them money overall (versus a teacher who took them all, one genuinely sick, or not).

I'm in another country, and not a teacher in this sense, although I work at a university which is quasi-public-sector here.  If I could ask: when I 'bid' for a staff member - let's say I'm applying for a research grant and intend to use it to fund someone - I have to include an "on-cost" figure in addition to the salary.  On-costs include all the other costs of employing someone - so, taxes, insurance, and the costs of benefits, which include annual leave, long service leave accruals, maternity leave, etc. - and sick leave.  That money, as I understand it, really is set aside, and is then drawn on whenever a staff member takes the relevant kind of leave, to cover the additional costs generated by the leave.  Some kinds of leave are paid out when someone goes, but accrued sick leave and maternity leave entitlements aren't - but money was actually set aside for that purpose while someone continued to work.  I don't know what happens to this money when someone leaves without claiming it, but - from a staffing perspective - I'm required to make sure the money is set aside, and I have actually made arrangements to draw from the relevant budget bucket when organising, say, maternity leave replacements for myself.

My question is: is this not how it works in US federal or state government organisations?  This might make a difference in whether it really is /extra/ money that is spent to cover for an absence, or whether it's just drawing on money that has been banked as sick leave - rather than, say, used for someone's salary package.

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #132 on: October 25, 2017, 08:18:54 AM »
Doesn't matter. Even if it's "set aside," it still costs money to use it.  It's not like the set aside money is burned if it's not used, it can be put to other use/reabsorbed.
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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #133 on: October 25, 2017, 08:36:29 AM »
Doesn't matter. Even if it's "set aside," it still costs money to use it.  It's not like the set aside money is burned if it's not used, it can be put to other use/reabsorbed.

It depends on whether you think of it as a deduction from someone's salary package, I think?  As in, my package includes a certain amount of pay, plus a basket of benefits.  If I don't claim those benefits, the funds can be used elsewhere in the system - but the same result could be achieved by my generously agreeing to take a lower-than-standard salary for my role.  I guess I'm trying to see whether there is some difference between the way sick leave is dealt with, budgetarily, in different organisations, that would make it make sense to donate specifically sick leave to the system, rather than some other form of compensation.

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #134 on: October 25, 2017, 08:37:09 AM »
The crux of the matter for me is whether the rules are defined or not. If your organization publishes rules on how sick time can be used then you've agreed to follow those guidelines by accepting the job. I'm ok with lowering the standard for how poorly you feel before calling in sick, or for a rare, spontaneous mental health day when things are especially stressful, but to me it's clearly ethically wrong to plan to use sick time in lieu of vacation time for a future event (or something similar). If it's all mixed together in some general PTO bucket then go for it.

Having worked jobs without paid sick time I am grateful for the benefit, even if I give a good chunk of it back every year.

Also, in my experience management notices the "frequent fliers" who use sick days as quickly as they accrue them (and often on sunny Fridays), even if they don't feel like policing it. May not be an issue if you're close to FIRE but it does factor into your reputation when staffing decisions are made.



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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #135 on: October 25, 2017, 09:07:07 AM »
Doesn't matter. Even if it's "set aside," it still costs money to use it.  It's not like the set aside money is burned if it's not used, it can be put to other use/reabsorbed.

I* don't think this is how it works. Sick leave is part of the fringe benefit subgroup of indirect costs. You can't reallocate fringe benefits to cover other indirect costs or direct costs. Over time, you could work to lower your overall fringe benefit rate, but I believe that would eventually end in a lowering of the number of sick days available rather than being a long-term cost savings.

*(I am not a public accountant.)

arebelspy

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #136 on: October 25, 2017, 09:08:29 AM »
Doesn't matter. Even if it's "set aside," it still costs money to use it.  It's not like the set aside money is burned if it's not used, it can be put to other use/reabsorbed.

I* don't think this is how it works. Sick leave is part of the fringe benefit subgroup of indirect costs. You can't reallocate fringe benefits to cover other indirect costs or direct costs. Over time, you could work to lower your overall fringe benefit rate, but I believe that would eventually end in a lowering of the number of sick days available rather than being a long-term cost savings.

*(I am not a public accountant.)

So the wife and I ER'd with 60+ sick days each. What happens to that money that was set aside to cover that then?
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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #137 on: October 25, 2017, 09:28:09 AM »
Interesting discussion,  and I have two points.

I rarely take sick days for myself, for better or worse, for what I consider to be minor illnesses - headaches, a cold, sinus infection, sleep deprivation, etc.  But my barometer for it being being "sick" day worthy is hardly someone else's. 

But I am basically required to take sick days when my children are sick because daycare has this crazy rule that my sick kid can't come in and get all the other kids sick.  That includes not having a fever for 24 hours prior to arrival.  It's not infrequent, and it doesn't matter whether your child is in the hospital or they vomited once 12 hours ago.

Folks who complain about parents taking sick time for their kids need to, IMHO, stop wasting their breath.  Humans have children.  Parents are required to take care of their children by the laws of socierty and the laws of nature.  The fact some employees who don't have children (for whatever reason) will sometimes have to pick up the slack will never change these basic facts.   So be happy that you won't be in danger of losing promotions, wages, and/or your job and get over it.

scantee

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #138 on: October 25, 2017, 09:52:24 AM »
Doesn't matter. Even if it's "set aside," it still costs money to use it.  It's not like the set aside money is burned if it's not used, it can be put to other use/reabsorbed.

I* don't think this is how it works. Sick leave is part of the fringe benefit subgroup of indirect costs. You can't reallocate fringe benefits to cover other indirect costs or direct costs. Over time, you could work to lower your overall fringe benefit rate, but I believe that would eventually end in a lowering of the number of sick days available rather than being a long-term cost savings.

*(I am not a public accountant.)

So the wife and I ER'd with 60+ sick days each. What happens to that money that was set aside to cover that then?

I don't know. It sits as a liability on balance sheet? My hunch is that unused sick leave is evened out by underfunded sick leave liabilities. That is, most companies don't fully fund all of the sick leave available, they use historical projections to determine how much will be used. So one person will leave the company with 60 days of sick leave unused, of which half were only funded, while another person will use 90 days of leave, of which only 60 were funded, which evens out the liability across all staff.

I think the only way to limit sick leave costs long-term is to reduce the number of days available and put a lower cap on the total number of days that can be accrued year-to-year.

FIRE Artist

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #139 on: October 25, 2017, 09:58:38 AM »
Doesn't matter. Even if it's "set aside," it still costs money to use it.  It's not like the set aside money is burned if it's not used, it can be put to other use/reabsorbed.

I* don't think this is how it works. Sick leave is part of the fringe benefit subgroup of indirect costs. You can't reallocate fringe benefits to cover other indirect costs or direct costs. Over time, you could work to lower your overall fringe benefit rate, but I believe that would eventually end in a lowering of the number of sick days available rather than being a long-term cost savings.

*(I am not a public accountant.)

So the wife and I ER'd with 60+ sick days each. What happens to that money that was set aside to cover that then?

I think there is a misconception on how things like various leaves are accrued for on company balance sheets.  Sick leave time accrued does not have to be reflected at all for most salaried ( and hourly for that matter) employees due to the fact that it is a 1:1 cost balance with your salary that is already being paid.  Changing the code in payroll is simply to keep track of usage against each employeeís entitlement, not because it will affect the balance sheet.

Now, if you have to be replaced when sick as per the teacher example, this cost does have to be accrued for, but the accrual would not have any direct linkage to the outstanding employee sick time balance, instead it is accrued based on organization wide risk assessment, usually just the previous yearís casual/temp labour cost plus inflation, adjusted as needed based on known real time events (like holly shit!  this swine flu thing is throwing us out of whack, better adjust up the numbers for next month). 

lLikewise, I have seen Maternity leave mentioned here, companies are not accruing for each child bearing age woman, this would also fit into a temp/casual pool likely.

Think of it like an insurance company - a typical person may have $1MM in liability coverage, but what funds do the insurance company need to keep at the ready to conver that?  They are using  liability algorithms to determine that, not tucking away $1MM for each policy holder. 

Now vacation time is a whole different beast.  Vacation accrual is a real liability owed to the employee because it actually is earned and it has to be accrued for dollar for dollar, and it sits on the balance sheet until used.  Letís say I earn $100k/yr and my vacation entitlement is equivalent to $10k.  If I work the whole year and donít take vacation time, then quit on the last day of the year, they have to pay out my vacation, so I get paid a total of $110k for that year.  This is a real cost that has to be paid and companies would prefer you to take your vacation to keep that lump sum on the balance sheet as low as possible. When companies hit hard times, forcing employees to use up their vacation time is a great way to reduce liability on the balance sheet and at the same time save money on basic salary. Vacation pay is also impacted by pay raises, so past accrued vacation taken has to be adjusted up as per salaries.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 10:02:03 AM by FIRE Artist »

arebelspy

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #140 on: October 25, 2017, 10:05:02 AM »
How it's accrued or accounted for doesn't matter.

You cannot get away from the fact that if I take sick leave, more money has to be paid (money coming from tax payers), and if I don't, less money is paid.

You can move it around and account for it in different ways, or offset it with other things, or whatever, but the bottom line is: I take sick day, money is used for that. I don't, the money remains unused. More money is spent if I take sick days than if I don't.
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FIRE Artist

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #141 on: October 25, 2017, 10:11:53 AM »
How it's accrued or accounted for doesn't matter.

You cannot get away from the fact that if I take sick leave, more money has to be paid (money coming from tax payers), and if I don't, less money is paid.

You can move it around and account for it in different ways, or offset it with other things, or whatever, but the bottom line is: I take sick day, money is used for that. I don't, the money remains unused. More money is spent if I take sick days than if I don't.

I absolutely agree, but understanding how the accounting does work may help throw some light on the situation for those who are of the mindset that a 60 day sick leave balance means they are owed 60 days paid leave sick or not.

I think I fairly answered your question about what happened to the money from your 60 day balance - it never existed with your name attached to it in the first place.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2017, 10:13:58 AM by FIRE Artist »

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #142 on: October 25, 2017, 10:17:41 AM »
How it's accrued or accounted for doesn't matter.

You cannot get away from the fact that if I take sick leave, more money has to be paid (money coming from tax payers), and if I don't, less money is paid.

You can move it around and account for it in different ways, or offset it with other things, or whatever, but the bottom line is: I take sick day, money is used for that. I don't, the money remains unused. More money is spent if I take sick days than if I don't.
But if a female teacher gets pregnant and takes maternity leave she costs taxpayers more money, and if someone has a chronic illness and takes more sick leave they cost more money. Should we only be hiring healthy men to avoid costing the taxpayers extra money? Worrying about the small percentage of "invalid" sick days is not worth it imo, it's just part of the cost of doing business and it is accounted for in the benefits package that is negotiated. There's no effective way to police it, requiring sick notes for even one day is stupid, so we accept the fact that some people will abuse the system while most people use it correctly and benefit greatly from having paid sick leave.

scantee

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #143 on: October 25, 2017, 10:23:39 AM »
How it's accrued or accounted for doesn't matter.

You cannot get away from the fact that if I take sick leave, more money has to be paid (money coming from tax payers), and if I don't, less money is paid.

You can move it around and account for it in different ways, or offset it with other things, or whatever, but the bottom line is: I take sick day, money is used for that. I don't, the money remains unused. More money is spent if I take sick days than if I don't.

If you're thinking very narrowly, the most cost effective sick leave policy is to offer no sick leave at all. No one can abuse a sick leave policy that doesn't exist. However, we know that people do get sick, sometimes very seriously and for a long time, so there are some marked drawbacks to offering no sick leave, namely that productivity is lowered if you have a bunch of sick people working and making other people sick.

If we acknowledge that 1) humans get sick and 2) it's better for overall productivity for sick humans to stay home, then the questions becomes, what is the best sick leave policy that allows people to stay home when they are sick but isn't so generous that it is regularly abused? The rise of bundled PTO (as opposed to separate sick and vacation leaves) is in response to this question. People are less likely to take a "sick" day if it will take away from days they could be using for vacation. This is great for healthy people, but it sucks for sick people. If you come down with pneumonia and are hospitalized and recuperating for a month, you could easily blow through all of your PTO for the year with that one illness. That would leave you with not one day to either have a holiday, vacation, or another sick day. Productivity is lower for someone who can take no time off. The other option, set-aside sick leave, is better for situations with employees who might become seriously ill, but the generous amounts of accrued leave available make abuse more likely.

I don't think there is an easy or right answer to this question. My guess is that set-aside sick leave is better for government workplaces (including teaching) because they often have older workers on average, who are more likely to fall seriously ill. Conversely, PTO might be totally appropriate for a small tech start-up with a bunch of 20-year-olds who are less likely to fall seriously ill.

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #144 on: October 25, 2017, 10:25:18 AM »


we accept the fact that some people will abuse the system

That's what is being discussed here: is it abusing the system to take sick days you have earned, when you are not sick.

Obviously if you need them (maternity, etc.) you should take them (though we should have separate maternity and paternity leave that isn't "sick days").
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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #145 on: October 25, 2017, 10:36:07 AM »


we accept the fact that some people will abuse the system

That's what is being discussed here: is it abusing the system to take sick days you have earned, when you are not sick.

Obviously if you need them (maternity, etc.) you should take them (though we should have separate maternity and paternity leave that isn't "sick days").
I guess I believe that it doesn't matter what someone's reason for taking a sick day is as long as they are within the policy, and that the policy has to be structured so that someone isn't penalized for being sick or rewarded for abusing the system. I've taken days off where I wasn't exactly sick, but I really didn't feel like going, and I probably wouldn't have been productive. Everyone has a different bar for "sick enough" and worrying about who calls in for a sniffle or a "I don't feel like it today" is a waste of time and energy. The cost is already accounted for, so use it, whether you work for a public or private company.

arebelspy

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #146 on: October 25, 2017, 10:45:23 AM »


The cost is already accounted for, so use it, whether you work for a public or private company.

It's accounted for, yes, but saved if not used.  That's not easy to hand waive away by a "they're expecting to have to spend it," especially in the government job situation.
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scantee

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #147 on: October 25, 2017, 10:59:32 AM »


The cost is already accounted for, so use it, whether you work for a public or private company.

It's accounted for, yes, but saved if not used.  That's not easy to hand waive away by a "they're expecting to have to spend it," especially in the government job situation.

I'm not tracking what your point is over your last few comments. You think government employees should be given less sick leave so they have fewer chances to abuse? You think their usage of sick leave should be more closely monitored to catch abusers (which would be expensive in itself; monitoring is often more expensive than the behavior it is attempting to curb)? Or is it that you just want consensus that using sick time when not really sick is wrong or unethical? If it's the latter, I don't think you're going to get consensus. As evidenced in this thread, there are too many other variables that factor into how individuals weight the ethicality of this issue.

mm1970

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #148 on: October 25, 2017, 11:15:36 AM »
Quote
If you come down with pneumonia and are hospitalized and recuperating for a month, you could easily blow through all of your PTO for the year with that one illness. That would leave you with not one day to either have a holiday, vacation, or another sick day. Productivity is lower for someone who can take no time off. The other option, set-aside sick leave, is better for situations with employees who might become seriously ill, but the generous amounts of accrued leave available make abuse more likely.

This is a good point too, and I actually encountered that with respect to my mat leave.

With State + Federal leave, for a regular birth, you are allowed 22 weeks off (not necessarily all paid, but guaranteed time off with your job held, assuming you work for a large enough company).  So, if you REALLY want to max out your time off, what you do is make sure you go out on mat leave with zero vacation time / PTO saved up.

But, that's really not very smart, because everyone knows you are likely to get sick as a dog the first year after having a kid, due to sheer exhaustion.

When I was filling out paperwork for my mat leave (yet again, new company, *FIRST* person to give birth there), I was reading the company requirement to "use all vacation days" before starting to take paid leave (which is disability). (I cannot remember if we were on PTO then, or vacation + sick).  Now, at this point, I had 3 weeks of vacation saved up.  There was no effing way I was going to sign that form.  Come back after mat leave with ZERO time on the books?  Um, no. Not gonna happen.  So I read up on state law to find that our state allows for companies to require you to use UP TO 2 weeks of sick time/ PTO/ vacation when out on disability or mat leave.

I crossed out "all" and wrote in "2 weeks".  It was a big fat mess for disability pay, because the state just assumes they need to pay you for 6 weeks, starting at week 2.  Taking paid leave for 2 weeks delays all that, confuses them, and in the end I got my disability paycheck after I went back to work 13.5 weeks later.  Which, seriously.


robartsd

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Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
« Reply #149 on: October 25, 2017, 11:51:09 AM »
With a fat sick leave balance and a short time frame to retirement, I'd be very liberal in my definition of "sick". Sure, I consider it unethical to plan to call in sick just because there was something else I wanted to plan to do on a particular day, but I would not hesitate to stay home to rest if I just wasn't feeling well some morning.

FMLA - I thought if you have sick leave on the books you can use that before vacation to get paid during an FMLA absence, but that may be subject to state law or employer policies (I'm pretty sure that this is how it works at my employer).

My employer offers a choice between annual leave or vacation + sick. With vacation + sick we get 8 hours of sick leave each month regardless of length of employment (vacation accrues more with seniority). Employees who opt for annual leave accrue 4 hours more annual leave than the vacation leave they would accrue under vacation + sick. A common strategy for those who plan to work here for an entire career is to acrue lots of sick leave early on, then switch to annual leave (sick leave balances remain and can continue to be used when you switch to annual leave).