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General Discussion => Welcome and General Discussion => Topic started by: Peter Parker on October 19, 2017, 06:56:59 PM

Title: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Peter Parker on October 19, 2017, 06:56:59 PM
I've got a devil on my shoulder whispering bad things into my ear....

I've accumulated a 1000 hours of sick leave.  When I retire in about 3.5 years, I lose the first 200 hours and get "service credit" for one-half of the remaining amount (which doesn't amount to much service credit--about 10 weeks) that will be added my service years for purposes of calculating my pension.   That's something, I suppose, but not much....

The devil has been telling me to get 100 percent out of my sick leave by taking a few days here, a few more there....But my Catholic guilt is getting to me (and I'm not even Catholic) and telling me not to take sick days unless I'm sick....

What would you do?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on October 19, 2017, 07:09:20 PM
I think it depends on your work situation. Sick leave gets noticed. Of course we want people to take care of themselves. But someone that is taking a lot of sick leave looks odd to Management and it seems like disengagement or looking for a new job. If you have doctorís proof, sure. Personally, Iíd rather have the payout. If you want the day ď offĒ, why not just ask if you can work from home sometimes?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: LearnTo on October 19, 2017, 07:40:15 PM
I couldn't take the guilt.  It's sick leave, not vacation.  And you have the treat of retirement.
Sick days when you are not sick hurt your co-workers, right?
Sometimes it's good to do the right thing, not compare yourself to what others might do.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: startingsmall on October 19, 2017, 08:52:07 PM
There are jobs where people get sick leave? *swoon*

Color me jealous.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Noodle on October 19, 2017, 08:52:48 PM
For me, it would depend on whether a) my workplace allowed sick leave "donation" and b) how much of a hassle it is for my co-workers when I'm out. If there wasn't a good cause it could go to, and it wasn't going to cause a lot of problems for other people, I would probably be more generous about what I defined as "sick." Feeling kind of sniffly--I'm sick. Didn't sleep well last night--I'm sick. Etc. Just don't go out carousing when you are theoretically sick. The grocery store is fine (sick people need food too) but there is no way to explain bowling if you supposedly have stomach flu.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: DoubleDown on October 19, 2017, 09:24:52 PM
I hear ya, but I would avoid taking advantage of sick leave when it's not needed. Whatever your belief system, your conscience is telling you something. That said, I would (and did myself before I retired) take sick leave occasionally when I could have gone to the office, but wasn't 100%. And I used it (legally in every sense) to go to doctor appointments, take my kids to the doctor, etc. I figured even if I had a relatively mild illness, it was better not to spread it around to others at work. I even used it a couple of times when I was just plain tired. But I didn't feel like I was abusing it, as I also had a ton of unused time like you and only used it on pretty rare occasions. YMMV.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on October 19, 2017, 09:29:30 PM
Iíll also share, at my work, we have a focus on mental health for our clients so we have practice what we preach.  So, is youíre stressed, overwhelmed or whatever, you can say: taking a mental health day and not coming in today. Thatís fine and not questioned. If I had staff who did that a lot I would think weíd need to give greater support.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: obstinate on October 19, 2017, 09:34:17 PM
I suggest being thankful you were so healthy that you didn't need to use this leave.

If that doesn't work, consider the risk. Does getting fired do anything to your pension?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: RedmondStash on October 19, 2017, 09:55:13 PM
I'd say start taking the occasional mental health day, once or twice a month. It really can do wonders for your productivity, so there's no need to feel guilty. You don't have to use it all up, but you don't have to let it all just sit there either.

It should not be a burden to your coworkers; if your company budgets X days of sick leave per person as part of the compensation package, then that's how many lost days they've already budgeted for.

Most places I've worked that have separate sick leave & vacation don't let sick leave roll over; you get maybe 2 weeks a year, and it vanishes at the end of each year. Yours sounds like an unusual situation.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: surfhb on October 19, 2017, 11:42:45 PM
Its mind boggling to me why anyone would not use every inch of benefits paid to you by your employer.    Sick days are baked into their budgets so leaving them on the table unused goes into their pocket, not yours.   

I love the new PTO days companies are giving out.   It actually discourages "sick day" use and the guilt associated with it.   
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: SC93 on October 19, 2017, 11:59:58 PM
I'm with you. No idea why anyone would feel bad about taking what is given to them. My little woman takes everyone of hers. There is a lady at the museum that rarely uses any of her sick days.... crazy. If I had a job I'd be sick every day so I'd quickly run out of sick days. lol
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: SecondBreakfast on October 20, 2017, 03:00:15 AM
I'm more confused by feeling guilty about taking a day if you're still getting your work done. The "sick day" is as much of a lie as "needing you to be at your desk 40+ hours a week". If your job is getting done then they're both only signals of company loyalty, which you don't care about because you're retiring.

Do enough to do your job, ditch all the career-building company-man signals, retire with a clean conscience.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: life_travel on October 20, 2017, 03:33:38 AM
I have 97 sick days and when I leave they are not paid out. It's very hard to take sick leave where I work , just not worth it, it puts pressure on others and then also makes me do extra hours to "catch up" so yeah...:(
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: ZiziPB on October 20, 2017, 04:27:21 AM
I'm very glad that my company doesn't have separate sick leave.  We just get 4 extra days of PTO per year and if you are sick more than a week, short term disability kicks in.  Having said that, they recently changed their policy and will not be paying out any unused PTO days when an employee leaves, so I am definitely planning to use it all up before I quit next year.  But at least I don't have to pretend to be sick :-)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: MommyCake on October 20, 2017, 04:42:03 AM
I agree with the person who said to ask for clarification on what you can use sick time for.  At my job I can use it if I'm sick or have a medical appointment (and yes I can take a whole day off for an appointment) or if a family member is sick or has an appointment.  Your employer may even be okay with using sick days for things like bringing car to mechanic, have home repairs completed, etc.  Doesn't hurt to ask, and then you won't feel guilty once you have approval. 
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: SnackDog on October 20, 2017, 04:58:21 AM
I have used less than 5 sick leave days in 20 years.  I realize others are not so fortunate with their health.  Being healthy is all the thanks I need, I don't need to screw my employer out of 100 illegit sick days on top of it.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: anadyne on October 20, 2017, 05:01:17 AM
Its mind boggling to me why anyone would not use every inch of benefits paid to you by your employer.    Sick days are baked into their budgets so leaving them on the table unused goes into their pocket, not yours.   

I love the new PTO days companies are giving out.   It actually discourages "sick day" use and the guilt associated with it.
 

This is how I feel about it. I can't even conceive of it as a matter of ethics, but of budgeting. My employer has budged 12 days/year of compensation for me to paid out of the pool of money they have designated for health leave. I am allowed to accumulate 120 days, then overage is lost. I budget my sick days like money - I wouldn't leave employer match on the table, I wouldn't leave this budgeted pool of paid time off on the table. 

We can donate a certain amount of our sick leave to those in need (I have an uncle who needed this when his wife was dying of cancer, I've donated ever since I realized how much this paid time off donation helps people's lives) - I donate the max to that first. 

I schedule deliberate, pre-planned, regular days into my schedule to use the 'sick leave' hours. So three months in advance I can look at my schedule and see the days I've given myself off. I actually do end up scheduling some of those to go to the dentist and whatnot, then run errands or chill the rest of the time. Other times I use them to make 3 or 4 day weekends. Anyone looking at my schedule will see that I won't be at work those days, months in advance. 

Other days I keep in reserve in case I actually get sick. Those are the ones I ultimately donate if they're unused. 

I've never once thought of them as an ethical issue. To me it's like coming in under budget on groceries and using the money that's left to go out to dinner or something.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: KungfuRabbit on October 20, 2017, 05:39:04 AM
The guys at my work are shameless about it. We lose sick days every march, so people want to burn them before they are gone. We also can't have everyone be gone at the same time without notice. So yes, we have people literally schedule sick days, weeks in advance.

The only one it helps by not using them is your boss.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Northern gal on October 20, 2017, 05:46:35 AM
I had six weeks of personal leave saved up and felt the way you do.

Then suddenly out of the blue I got a debilitating illness. Viral the doctor said. Nothing anyone can do. Bed rest fluids and time. I asked how long does it ysually take? Guess what: six weeks.

I was lucky it only took four.

My advice: be glad you are not sick!

The odd mental health day is fine if you need it.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: merlin7676 on October 20, 2017, 07:08:18 AM
Like other posters stated, they are already your days. Your company gives them to you as part of your compensation package. They know that some will use all and all will use some, but not all using all so it really leaves them with extra money in their pocket.

Thankfully my company doesn't have sick vs. vacation. You get a set number of PTO days to use how you see fit.  This way you don't have to feel guilty about using up your days or calling in sick. The pto can be used however you want. So if you're going on vacation, you're sick, or you just don't feel like coming in, it doesn't matter as long as you don't exceed your limit.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: partgypsy on October 20, 2017, 07:36:21 AM
I honestly wish they had combined sick/personal leave. I'm kind of in the same boat, of about 45 hours of annual leave, but 500? 600? hours of sick leave. What is even more weird, in my federal corner, people who are on sick leave can ask for people to donate leave. But you have to donate your annual leave, not your sick leave. Which can create even more of an inbalance.

Remember you can take sick leave for doctors appointments for you and your family members, or if you are just plain exhausted, if not not formally "sick". Read up on what your sick leave covers, it may cover more than you think.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Mr. Green on October 20, 2017, 07:45:56 AM
Sick leave can absolutely be used to take a mental health day. Taking time off to ensure you are performing as well as you can is just as important as taking time off when you're physically sick. If you're not already start taking time for mental health days.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 07:48:44 AM
I average 2 sick days a year.  Those consist of (4) half days for doctor and dentist appts.

I regularly feel resentment towards my co-workers who call in sick on average 10+ days a year.  Some break 20.

I should just assume its legit and be thankful I tend to stay healthier, but we know how it goes...something about Fridays and Mondays weakening immune systems I guess.

Unfortunately, its me who gets the extra work when they are out.  WTF.  It'd be great if I could just blow their work off, but there are always things that have to be done that day.

And what's up with the get-out-of-jail-free 'my kid is sick' card.  This is dropped regularly for taking a sick day.  How about you actually work from home and get something done instead of just dumping all of your responsibilities on your co-worker?  Its completely disrespectful.  Does the sick child really require 100% minute to minute attention that you can't do ANY work???  Gimme a break.  No, your co-worker will pick up the slack for you! 


At what point does one say 'If you can't beat them, join them'? 

Its beyond frustrating, because I just can't fathom intentionally wanting to screw your co-worker over, but it seems that the general consensus is its just fine and dandy.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: simonsez on October 20, 2017, 08:25:15 AM
1.  What is the math involved? 

You mentioned 10 weeks of time in service could be added to your pension.  That's roughly .4 years.  If you receive 1% per year (just guessing) and your highest year or average of whatever is in the calculation is 100k, you're looking at $400 extra/year.  If you are expecting to live 40 years past retirement this is $16,000.  If your avg salary used is 150k and you get 2%/year on your pension, this would be $1200/year or $48,000 over 40 years.

Put a ballpark price on your guilt or whatever costs of dealing with this situation and see if it is more or less than the added pension value.  Adjust accordingly to your actual pension formula and any present/future valuation differences.

2.  If you take the SL, does this unduly burden others or yourself when you return?  Or would this largely go unnoticed in the grand scheme?

3.  Are there any surgeries you have been considering?  You could always play it extra safe after getting that pesky mole removed and take leave.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: zinnie on October 20, 2017, 08:31:45 AM
Where I come from, sick days are for actually being sick or going to appointments. They are separate from PTO because PTO is planned, and sick days allow you to just not show up one day by notifying people that morning. So it affects coworkers a lot, which made people not be out more than they needed to, plus we always only got five days that didn't roll over so it wasn't that many days. Most people used it up through appointments or kids being sick and at least one illness (and sometimes a hangover day or two, I'm sure.) I can't imagine just using up every possible day because it's just a benefit the company assumes will be used up. We also had days for bereavement, and jury duty, and probably something else I can't think of right now. But I promise you the company was not planning on every single employee taking off for every possible reason every single year. If that started happening I'm sure they'd make us start to ask for proof.

Are you thinking of using the whole 1000, or just the 200 that you can't use for another benefit? Because 200 hours is only 4.75 hours per month for the next 3.5 years. So basically every other month you have one day. I don't blame you for the guilt if you are just trying to be honest, but don't you have a day every few months that you just aren't feeling great, whatever the reason? Mental health, physical illness, headache, etc.? Maybe you could start by just being a little bit looser about your definition of "sick." And when you do actually get sick, take as many days as you need. Plus you never know what's going to happen in the next few years--maybe you will actually need a lot of sick days at some point. It would be unfortunate if you used them all up for other reasons and then needed to be out for weeks for a serious illness for you or a family member.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 08:38:41 AM
I guess my company culture is screw your co-worker.

I do ignore all non-critical items piled onto me, but there is ALWAYS something that has to be done because the consequences of not doing it will bring about even more pain.

Some sick results are absolutely ridiculous...consuming half or more of my own day with other people's responsibilities, due to those last minute 'unavoidable sicknesses'.  They've definitely pushed me to the brink of calling it that day and walking out the door.  They still could...I'm getting more and more irked over it.

On average though, when someone calls in sick, I get an extra hour of work that day.

That means I get to perform one hour of unpaid charity work for Frank so he can 'make sure' Bobby sue is OK.  But hey, I'm sure it was touch and go for Bobby sue the whole day....just like it was a few weeks ago...and the month before.  Its also concerning that there is no cell phone or internet at Frank's house to do work...god forbid Bobby sue takes a bad turn...how will Frank reach an EMT?

Its dis-respect plain and simple and its really sad that the only answer to combat it is to return the unethical behavior and give the Franks an equal taste of their own medicine. 

I just can't bring myself to do it though.  It feels slimy.  But are the extra 'charity' hours worth holding one's ethics?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: anadyne on October 20, 2017, 08:44:57 AM
Maybe the difference is that I've never worked in a job in which duties are shared to the extent that a single sick person changes the entire dynamics of everyone's day and productivity.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: semiretired31 on October 20, 2017, 08:57:21 AM
I've not worked in an environment where they have delineated sick and vacation days in a long time.  Everything is lumped together as PTO.  I like that so much better because it removes the burden of proof for days off.  You have this many to take and you take them how you please.  Be sure to reserve some for "just in case".  The sick days being available, but questionable in usage, leaves this type of conundrum. 

All that said, me being out of the office for the day has very little negative consequence for others.  So, if I take a day, it's not big deal.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv on October 20, 2017, 09:03:16 AM
I average 2 sick days a year.  Those consist of (4) half days for doctor and dentist appts.

I regularly feel resentment towards my co-workers who call in sick on average 10+ days a year.  Some break 20.

I should just assume its legit and be thankful I tend to stay healthier, but we know how it goes...something about Fridays and Mondays weakening immune systems I guess.

Unfortunately, its me who gets the extra work when they are out.  WTF.  It'd be great if I could just blow their work off, but there are always things that have to be done that day.

And what's up with the get-out-of-jail-free 'my kid is sick' card.  This is dropped regularly for taking a sick day.  How about you actually work from home and get something done instead of just dumping all of your responsibilities on your co-worker?  Its completely disrespectful.  Does the sick child really require 100% minute to minute attention that you can't do ANY work???  Gimme a break.  No, your co-worker will pick up the slack for you! 


At what point does one say 'If you can't beat them, join them'? 

Its beyond frustrating, because I just can't fathom intentionally wanting to screw your co-worker over, but it seems that the general consensus is its just fine and dandy.

The first year that my son was in daycare, everyone in our family was sick.  I typically take 1 - 2 sick days a year, and ended up taking 20 that year (not including the significant number of days that I went in to work with a cold/fever).  It was crazy, and I had never experienced anything like it before.

I don't know about older kids, but a sick child under four requires constant supervision.  Many day cares and childcare places will send a child with a fever home, so it's up to the parent to look after the child suddenly and without warning.  Children are very demanding.  I'd encourage you to try looking after a two or three year old for a day while also attempting to get work done.  It might help to mitigate your resentment.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 09:13:17 AM
There are a couple people with very young children here.

The worst offenders have their youngest playing sports.

Let me flip it.

Would you be content being the one putting in the vast majority of the free hours?  Or would you feel resentment?


I can presume everybody is being 100% honest and truly can't do any work ever.  I'm not sure trying to play a fool helps.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: scantee on October 20, 2017, 09:16:39 AM
There are a couple people with very young children here.

The worst offenders have their youngest playing sports.

Let me flip it.

Would you be content being the one putting in the vast majority of the free hours?  Or would you feel resentment?

What do you mean by free hours? Your boss is making you work unpaid? That seems like a more serious labor violation than just people using their sick time liberally.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv on October 20, 2017, 09:22:01 AM
There are a couple people with very young children here.

The worst offenders have their youngest playing sports.

Let me flip it.

Would you be content being the one putting in the vast majority of the free hours?  Or would you feel resentment?

What do you mean by free hours? Your boss is making you work unpaid? That seems like a more serious labor violation than just people using their sick time liberally.

+1

Don't work unpaid hours.  Your complaining has much more to do with that than sick time.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 09:22:27 AM
I'm salaried.  No such thing as OT.

So if someone in the team is out, and something has to get done, the team covers that day.

On average its an extra hour...so 10hr day instead of 9...for instance.



OMG, now I just have to laugh it.  A co-worker came by and mentioned he was 'leaving early' today.  His leg 'hurts'. He says there's nothing that is critical this afternoon.

Last time he said that I got bombed.  I hate Fridays.

I'm sitting here with a skinned arm and knuckles....and am pretty damn sore myself today.  Does that merit taking sick time??  Come on. 
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 09:25:58 AM
Yeah the complaining.

The answer is leave.  I already know that.

My situation makes that a poor choice.  I'm close enough to FI that leaving would slow the date.  So I suck it up and vent here.


This thread is about the ethics of sick time.  I provided my view and situation as fodder that taking sick time when you don't need it can be pretty damn unethical if you are screwing your co-worker as a result.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv on October 20, 2017, 09:31:11 AM
I'm salaried.  No such thing as OT.

So if someone in the team is out, and something has to get done, the team covers that day.

On average its an extra hour...so 10hr day instead of 9...for instance.



OMG, now I just have to laugh it.  A co-worker came by and mentioned he was 'leaving early' today.  His leg 'hurts'. He says there's nothing that is critical this afternoon.

Last time he said that I got bombed.  I hate Fridays.

I'm sitting here with a skinned arm and knuckles....and am pretty damn sore myself today.  Does that merit taking sick time??  Come on.

I'm salaried too.  We have an expected work week of about 40 hours.  If stuff needs to get done that might jump to 50 or 60.  And then then you might put in a couple 30 hour weeks.  If you're regularly expected to work more hours than the job description, request more resources or change jobs.

If you're sick, take sick time.  Suffering through pain and illness to complain about the situations of others (to which you are not privy to all details) is a waste of your time.  It just makes you unhappy.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 09:34:52 AM
I'm salaried.  No such thing as OT.

So if someone in the team is out, and something has to get done, the team covers that day.

On average its an extra hour...so 10hr day instead of 9...for instance.



OMG, now I just have to laugh it.  A co-worker came by and mentioned he was 'leaving early' today.  His leg 'hurts'. He says there's nothing that is critical this afternoon.

Last time he said that I got bombed.  I hate Fridays.

I'm sitting here with a skinned arm and knuckles....and am pretty damn sore myself today.  Does that merit taking sick time??  Come on.

I'm salaried too.  We have an expected work week of about 40 hours.  If stuff needs to get done that might jump to 50 or 60.  And then then you might put in a couple 30 hour weeks.  If you're regularly expected to work more hours than the job description, request more resources or change jobs.

If you're sick, take sick time.  Suffering through pain and illness to complain about the situations of others (to which you are not privy to all details) is a waste of your time.  It just makes you unhappy.
So do you believe in taking sick time simply because it is available?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX on October 20, 2017, 09:35:42 AM
There is a fellow at my work who has accrued something over 5,000 hours of sick time in decades on the job. Because he never takes his vacation time or sick time - just comp time from working extra hours other times. Annually, the vacation (above a cap) rolls into sick time, which is unlimited.

No sick payout at retirement, but it does count as "time served" toward the retirement check.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 09:42:33 AM
Slee_stack, it sounds like you're the office martyr.

Stop whining and go home early.  You are clearly in need of a few mental health days.

Signed,
The guy that slept in this morning
OK.  Thanks.  Cover for me, K?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv on October 20, 2017, 09:43:19 AM
I'm salaried.  No such thing as OT.

So if someone in the team is out, and something has to get done, the team covers that day.

On average its an extra hour...so 10hr day instead of 9...for instance.



OMG, now I just have to laugh it.  A co-worker came by and mentioned he was 'leaving early' today.  His leg 'hurts'. He says there's nothing that is critical this afternoon.

Last time he said that I got bombed.  I hate Fridays.

I'm sitting here with a skinned arm and knuckles....and am pretty damn sore myself today.  Does that merit taking sick time??  Come on.

I'm salaried too.  We have an expected work week of about 40 hours.  If stuff needs to get done that might jump to 50 or 60.  And then then you might put in a couple 30 hour weeks.  If you're regularly expected to work more hours than the job description, request more resources or change jobs.

If you're sick, take sick time.  Suffering through pain and illness to complain about the situations of others (to which you are not privy to all details) is a waste of your time.  It just makes you unhappy.
So do you believe in taking sick time simply because it is available?

Nope.  If you're sick, take sick time.

It's why I don't like the idea of X number of sick days a year and banking sick days.  It encourages people to take sick time when they aren't sick.  I prefer working for companies where you take sick time whenever you feel that you're sick.  My experience has been that the increased trust in employees seems to lead to less abuse.  if you treat people like they can't be trusted . . . After long enough you'll find that they can't be trusted.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: zinnie on October 20, 2017, 09:46:54 AM
Maybe the difference is that I've never worked in a job in which duties are shared to the extent that a single sick person changes the entire dynamics of everyone's day and productivity.

It isn't just about job duties being shared, in my experience. When you're responsible for products and systems that need to be up and running 24/7, and when certain people are point people for specific things in an organization, a team member being out affects the others in that they need to take on some of that work for the day to keep the ship running. Again, in my personal experience, that makes the people who call out sick NOT abuse that privilege, because they have to also ask their coworker to do XYZ for them. And in a good working relationship the coworker says of course they will do it and the sick person returns the favor next time. Same for being out for vacation.

Reading this board makes me think I've only worked in model work environments! I could NOT handle consistent slackers or people leaving early and sticking others with their work--that would have been completely unacceptable in my department, would prevent any promotions, would get that person managed out, etc. In my experience those types of people dig their own graves, so there isn't any point worrying about them...

There is a fellow at my work who has accrued something over 5,000 hours of sick time in decades on the job. Because he never takes his vacation time or sick time - just comp time from working extra hours other times. Annually, the vacation (above a cap) rolls into sick time, which is unlimited.

No sick payout at retirement, but it does count as "time served" toward the retirement check.

That's crazy! Why would sick time roll over like that? It seems like it defeats the purpose of sick time--it's not like your frequency of sickness has any correlation to how long you've been with a company :)

Nope.  If you're sick, take sick time.

It's why I don't like the idea of X number of sick days a year and banking sick days.  It encourages people to take sick time when they aren't sick.  I prefer working for companies where you take sick time whenever you feel that you're sick.  My experience has been that the increased trust in employees seems to lead to less abuse.  if you treat people like they can't be trusted . . . After long enough you'll find that they can't be trusted.

Agree with this completely
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: scantee on October 20, 2017, 09:50:02 AM
I'm salaried.  No such thing as OT.

So if someone in the team is out, and something has to get done, the team covers that day.

On average its an extra hour...so 10hr day instead of 9...for instance.



OMG, now I just have to laugh it.  A co-worker came by and mentioned he was 'leaving early' today.  His leg 'hurts'. He says there's nothing that is critical this afternoon.

Last time he said that I got bombed.  I hate Fridays.

I'm sitting here with a skinned arm and knuckles....and am pretty damn sore myself today.  Does that merit taking sick time??  Come on. 

You need a mindset shift. Don't do the extra work, don't stay the extra hour. Unless you are an emergency room physician, or in a job with a similar level of urgency, you are almost certainly overvaluing the need to do your coworker's work for them. I know you don't feel that this is true, but consider the possibility that you are getting something out of doing their work for them. A sense of control, of superiority, something. If you insist on working more than is necessary, a better way for you to add value to your organization is to spend your extra time examining the problem and going to your boss with some possible solutions and ideas about how to implement them.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: teen persuasion on October 20, 2017, 09:54:36 AM
DH was contemplating leaving his employer, and had a lot of sick time accrued.  PTO could only roll over a small amount annually before they cashed excess out (at 50%), but sick time didn't have a limit.  Taking sick time wasn't usually worth the extra pile up you returned to (no one did your stuff for you, and you had to work extra to make up for lost time) so he rarely was out sick unless truly at death's door.

He looked into the payout rules, double checked all his options and for loopholes, before resigning.  Even at 50% payout, he had enough sick time + PTO that we put 50% in his 401k (nearly maxing, leaving enough room to capture another employer's match) and the remainder would be equivalent to his expected take home for the rest of the year (if he'd continued working past June).

A few months later, thru the grapevine, he heard that the employer capped sick time payouts at $2500.  Not a coincidence, I think.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 09:55:22 AM
Slee_stack, it sounds like you're the office martyr.

Stop whining and go home early.  You are clearly in need of a few mental health days.

Signed,
The guy that slept in this morning
OK.  Thanks.  Cover for me, K?

From the looks of it, all you're doing is posting on MMM from work.  So yes, I have you covered.  Well, at least until it warms up a bit more and I go for my bike ride, then you'll have to do your own posting again.  Fortunately, you can do that from home.
Yeah, I don't have (3) monitors.  Oh wait.   Do people not handle IMs and email while they work???
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX on October 20, 2017, 10:02:46 AM

From the looks of it, all you're doing is posting on MMM from work.  So yes, I have you covered.  Well, at least until it warms up a bit more and I go for my bike ride, then you'll have to do your own posting again.  Fortunately, you can do that from home.
Yeah, I don't have (3) monitors.  Oh wait.   Do people not handle IMs and email while they work???

You don't multitask as well as you think you do.

Personally, I'm off work today
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 10:10:13 AM

From the looks of it, all you're doing is posting on MMM from work.  So yes, I have you covered.  Well, at least until it warms up a bit more and I go for my bike ride, then you'll have to do your own posting again.  Fortunately, you can do that from home.
Yeah, I don't have (3) monitors.  Oh wait.   Do people not handle IMs and email while they work???

You don't multitask as well as you think you do.

Personally, I'm off work today
No one does.  Its dreadfully inefficient.

Hope you are enjoying your 'off' day.


Doesn't matter, I don't really care about all the side 'cleverness' that people love to interject.   Congrats...enjoy..whatever you like.


The thread is Sick Leave Ethics.

If folks are really debating whether they should use their sick time just because they have it, I would ask them to see if they truly are or aren't affecting their co-workers and how they would like to be treated in kind.


Absolutely take sick time if its warranted.  Be ethical with it if you can.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Dicey on October 20, 2017, 10:39:58 AM
1.  What is the math involved? 

You mentioned 10 weeks of time in service could be added to your pension.  That's roughly .4 years.  If you receive 1% per year (just guessing) and your highest year or average of whatever is in the calculation is 100k, you're looking at $400 extra/year.  If you are expecting to live 40 years past retirement this is $16,000.  If your avg salary used is 150k and you get 2%/year on your pension, this would be $1200/year or $48,000 over 40 years.

Put a ballpark price on your guilt or whatever costs of dealing with this situation and see if it is more or less than the added pension value.  Adjust accordingly to your actual pension formula and any present/future valuation differences.
On a forum where frugality and stoicism go hand-in-hand, it cracks me up that 25 replies happened before someone looked closely at the math. Good on you, simonsez!

If you're retiring young, life expectancy is even more relevant. As I read the OP's post, all leave is subjected to the 200 hour haircut, so burning that off is pointless. Another factor is that the hours were earned gradually, at lower pay rates. When paid out, is it paid at your current, and presumably highest, rate of pay?

As to the actual math, if there's a COLA included in your pension, the amount received will continue to increase over time, like compound interest.

If you are fortunate enough to get to your target retirement date without legitimately needing these sick days, then revel in your good fortune. With a little travel hacking, you could turn $1200 (or whatever the actual number is) into a nice all expense paid trip every year.

Side note: DH has a similar plan. When he first got the job, he studied the retirement plan closely. It nets him more to stockpile his sick days until retirement, so he uses vacation days if he's sick. He works a 9/80 schedule, so he gets every other Friday off anyway, plus a generous number of paid holidays, which he is a master at combining.

A side benefit of never taking sick days is the perks associated with perfect attendance.  He gets invited to annual recognition meetings, which he calls a paid half day of doing nothing + free lunch, he also regularly gets swag at the meetings. He is also considered extra badass because of his perfect health, which is pretty funny. He IS super badass, but when he does get sick, he just pulls those days out from under a different shell.

Moral of the story is that it pays to really learn your company's benefit system and work it for maximum impact on your life now and in retirement. Yes, I realize a lot of people don't stay long in their jobs these days, but for those who do, this is a great strategy to put extra bucks into your pocket.

If your job doesn't offer the perks you'd like to receive, go find another one that does, please don't whinge about it here, because it isn't relevant to the OP's question. This thread isn't as much about sick leave ethics as it is about maximizing the value of the sick time accrued. Or more precisely, learning how to wring maximum benefit from your employer's plan.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 on October 20, 2017, 10:40:03 AM
I'm salaried.  No such thing as OT.

So if someone in the team is out, and something has to get done, the team covers that day.

On average its an extra hour...so 10hr day instead of 9...for instance.



OMG, now I just have to laugh it.  A co-worker came by and mentioned he was 'leaving early' today.  His leg 'hurts'. He says there's nothing that is critical this afternoon.

Last time he said that I got bombed.  I hate Fridays.

I'm sitting here with a skinned arm and knuckles....and am pretty damn sore myself today.  Does that merit taking sick time??  Come on.

Let me go back 6 years.  I was pregnant with my second child.  And people got sick.

My boss (whose job I did when he was out) had a chest infection and two major surgeries.  Out total for 7 weeks?
Coworker #1 (whose job I did when he was out) had a week long business trip and a 2 week vacation
Coworker #2 (whose job I did when he was out) had 2 business trips and 2 vacations.

Salaried, no OT, and I was BEAT.  Literally BEAT.

But it also meant they picked up the slack when I was out on Mat Leave.  And when the kids and I got sick.  It's what you do.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 on October 20, 2017, 10:44:43 AM
I think it depends on your workplace.

I've worked at a few places that had the "if you are sick, stay home" policy.  You did not accrue sick time.  You had unlimited sick time, though if you got to over 25 days they'd start asking questions.  This was great because my first kid was born and I was sick as a dog that entire winter.  I was maybe healthy for 30 total days.  Yes, I still worked most of those days.  But I probably took at least 10 sick days.  As I'd been working plenty of unpaid OT for years before, zero guilt!

But then companies switched to PTO, which I hate.  Because people think that it's all vacation, and they don't want to take sick time.  So they come to work sick.

My husband gets separate sick leave, but in our state they have to pay it out when you leave.  If I worked at a place where I was awarded sick time, and it was use or lose, I'd use it - no question.  As long as it was a reasonable amount (5-7 days a year).  Where I have worked, sick time can be used for being sick, going to the doctor, or staying home with a sick kid.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 11:36:32 AM
If your job doesn't offer the perks you'd like to receive, go find another one that does, please don't whinge about it here, because it isn't relevant to the OP's question. This thread isn't as much about sick leave ethics as it is about maximizing the value of the sick time accrued. Or more precisely, learning how to wring maximum benefit from your employer's plan.
But isn't it 100% relevant to the OP?   

The OP posed about if he/she should take days 'here and there'.  Did they consider the impact to their fellow sad-sacks?  Isn't that an ethical consideration?

I 'whinge' because it can cause pain to other people.  Its so much more pleasant when people have each other's back in their work environment.  Its not so much fun if people are instead holding a knife to it.


Hey, we're all self-motivated.   Its why I just grit my teeth and cover the extra work that results.  Ultimately, its LESS pain/consequence for me to cover it than by NOT doing it or 'getting even'.


Suggesting to 'get another job' is great in general, but not universally.  I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face if I did that right now.  Every job has pros/cons.  That's irrelevant to personal ethic choices.


And that's where the ethics question (should) come in:

Not just Should I do this to maximize my personal value, but....  I recognize the personal value, but are there any consequences to doing this?   

And then think of your co-workers.   Maybe they all suck and deserve it.   Maybe they don't.

Maybe it affects them zero.  Awesome!

But was it considered in the first place? I beat the horse, and maybe the OP will indeed think about it.  If so, I did OK here.


As someone who feels the pain of people (possibly) 'abusing' sick time, I'm letting you know...it sucks.  Please don't be one of those guys

You get a gold star if you don't do it.  :D
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv on October 20, 2017, 11:41:09 AM
If your job doesn't offer the perks you'd like to receive, go find another one that does, please don't whinge about it here, because it isn't relevant to the OP's question. This thread isn't as much about sick leave ethics as it is about maximizing the value of the sick time accrued. Or more precisely, learning how to wring maximum benefit from your employer's plan.
But isn't it 100% relevant to the OP?   

The OP posed about if he/she should take days 'here and there'.  Did they consider the impact to their fellow sad-sacks?  Isn't that an ethical consideration?

I 'whinge' because it can cause pain to other people.  Its so much more pleasant when people have each other's back in their work environment.  Its not so much fun if people are instead holding a knife to it.


Hey, we're all self-motivated.   Its why I just grit my teeth and cover the extra work that results.  Ultimately, its LESS pain/consequence for me to cover it than by NOT doing it or 'getting even'.


Suggesting to 'get another job' is great in general, but not universally.  I would be cutting off my nose to spite my face if I did that right now.  Every job has pros/cons.  That's irrelevant to personal ethic choices.


And that's where the ethics question (should) come in:

Not just Should I do this to maximize my personal value, but....  I recognize the personal value, but are there any consequences to doing this?   

And then think of your co-workers.   Maybe they all suck and deserve it.   Maybe they don't.

Maybe it affects them zero.  Awesome!

But was it considered in the first place? I beat the horse, and maybe the OP will indeed think about it.  If so, I did OK here.


As someone who feels the pain of people (possibly) 'abusing' sick time, I'm letting you know...it sucks.  Please don't be one of those guys

You get a gold star if you don't do it.  :D

To be fair, your initial whining was that anybody ever took sick leave.  Well, that and a healthy dose of "fuck parents".  I think you're just kinda cranky in general.  :P
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: AccidentalMiser on October 20, 2017, 11:49:25 AM
I suggest being thankful you were so healthy that you didn't need to use this leave.

If that doesn't work, consider the risk. Does getting fired do anything to your pension?

This. 

I am in a similar situation except that my 1000 hours is just gone.  I will donate it to other workers in need when I get a little closer to retirement.  Faking sick days is a great way to get fired at a lot of places.  Also, if there's any burden to your co-workers from calling in, then you shouldn't (I don't have this problem.  All my work is still there when I come back from being gone.)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Slee_stack on October 20, 2017, 11:51:49 AM
To be fair, your initial whining was that anybody ever took sick leave.  Well, that and a healthy dose of "fuck parents".  I think you're just kinda cranky in general.  :P
If it came across like that, mea culpa.  That wasn't the intent.  I should have been clearer about 'abusing' or using sick time (for non sick purposes). 

the thread started with 'taking a day here and there' presumably 'just because'.  On the surface, I read that as 'abusing sick time'.


So...Fuck the 'abusers'.....and really ONLY if they are hurting their co-workers.  Otherwise, take it even if not sick because I'm good with the 'company planned for it' argument.

The rest was frustration.  Again...sorry for implying otherwise.  There are abusers of all demographics.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: o2bfree on October 20, 2017, 12:03:36 PM
Ethically, I think it's ok to take an illegitimate sick day --once in a while and assuming that you're pulling your weight at work and have maybe put in some extra hours here and there. You've got a darned generous compensation package there: paid sick leave, some reimbursement for what you don't use, plus a PENSION, for cryin' out loud! That's a lot of milk from that teat...do you really need much more?

Also, as some have pointed out, a health issue could come up where you need to use a bunch of leave. Not that you'd necessarily use it all, but you never know. I had some 1200 hours banked, was rather proud of the good health that implied, and assumed I'd never use more than a few days of it. Then, bang, in a few years' time I used up nearly 12 weeks having a couple totally unexpected joint surgeries, caring for my boyfriend when he had a surgery, and caring for my sick mom --another unexpected event. I was really grateful to have that much PAID time off, not to mention the health insurance.

Let your conscious be your guide, and think of how you'll reflect on your past behavior when you're retired early and reaping such generous benefits.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: surfhb on October 20, 2017, 01:49:49 PM
Whats even more unethical are workers who come in when they are sick.   I hate this!    Take your nasty virus and stay home idiot ;)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Eric on October 20, 2017, 02:52:16 PM
Whats even more unethical are workers who come in when they are sick.   I hate this!    Take your nasty virus and stay home idiot ;)

I used to get people sick at my old job all the time.  I had a shitty 10 days of vacation time, and a sick day subtracted from that.  You're damn right I'm coming in if I can walk.  Don't want me coming in sick?  Make a better policy.

As such, I haven't called in sick since 2008.  Of course it just so happens that I haven't actually been sick in the last ~5 years.  Gotta love that child free lifestyle.  :)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: kimmarg on October 20, 2017, 03:48:41 PM
It should not be a burden to your coworkers; if your company budgets X days of sick leave per person as part of the compensation package, then that's how many lost days they've already budgeted for.

Depends on the position. I work a job where things have to happen at a specific time every day. If I'm not there to work the shift, someone else has to. This often includes holding someone else on overtime to cover for the person who is sick.   Nothing worse than being the person on shift at 6pm when the night shift calls in sick. You know you are pretty much screwed since you'll never find anyone to work it in the next 4 hours. Your 8 hour shift just became a 12 or 16 hour shift.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: MsPeacock on October 20, 2017, 06:45:45 PM
Start taking some "mental health days" - these are as acceptable as taking time off to go to the doctor for something.

My PTO (to be used for sick/vacation) only will roll over 5 days I think, maybe none (its been less than a year for me). So, I plan to use every last day of it.

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: anadyne on October 20, 2017, 07:06:12 PM
Maybe the difference is that I've never worked in a job in which duties are shared to the extent that a single sick person changes the entire dynamics of everyone's day and productivity.

It isn't just about job duties being shared, in my experience. When you're responsible for products and systems that need to be up and running 24/7, and when certain people are point people for specific things in an organization, a team member being out affects the others in that they need to take on some of that work for the day to keep the ship running. Again, in my personal experience, that makes the people who call out sick NOT abuse that privilege, because they have to also ask their coworker to do XYZ for them. And in a good working relationship the coworker says of course they will do it and the sick person returns the favor next time. Same for being out for vacation.

Reading this board makes me think I've only worked in model work environments! I could NOT handle consistent slackers or people leaving early and sticking others with their work--that would have been completely unacceptable in my department, would prevent any promotions, would get that person managed out, etc. In my experience those types of people dig their own graves, so there isn't any point worrying about them...
 

So you equate people who take sick time with slacking? Interesting. My field is known for its long work hours (we work 15 hour days fairly often, 7 days/week for months at a stretch at times) and I don't know a single slacker, but we simply don't share work duties. We don't work in teams, except perhaps intellectual collaborations at times. We're promoted based on our individual performance, not group efforts. Taking sick days strategically is common, and the smart thing to do in our environment. I would say we work in a model work environment precisely because we don't depend on others for our performance, but are judged based on our own work. I can see how being part of a larger group with interdependencies would change the dynamic, since everyone shares work and effort. I've never worked in a job like that and I can see how it would be a benefit to share labor, but have the drawback of being dependent on others to do your job, hence caring about others' time off.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX on October 20, 2017, 07:23:40 PM
Ethically, I think it's ok to take an illegitimate sick day --once in a while and assuming that you're pulling your weight at work and have maybe put in some extra hours here and there. You've got a darned generous compensation package there: paid sick leave, some reimbursement for what you don't use, plus a PENSION, for cryin' out loud! That's a lot of milk from that teat...do you really need much more?

Where I work, the pension is balanced by ~10% of my salary getting put directly into the pension instead of my pocket, and having a salary significantly below the private sector.

The flexible work hours and reasonable leave time amounts (Good for the USA, not for Europe) are the main benefits.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: MM_MG on October 20, 2017, 11:36:21 PM
If a "benefit" is offered by your employer you shouldn't feel guilty for taking advantage of it.  Personally I think the distinction between vacation and sick time is ridiculous. Plans like this are just another way to leverage more work from employees without having to pay for it.   
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: johndoe on October 21, 2017, 06:48:47 AM
Ethically, I think it's ok to take an illegitimate sick day
Surely something that is illegitimate is unethical.  So you just said "Ethically, I think it's ok to be unethical".

Count me as one of the "use it for real sickness only".  It's the right thing to do...for me it goes back to feeling loyalty/duty in a job.  If you dont feel your job is worthwhile why are you spending a huge portion of your life there?  I agree with the poster who said that everyone around the office starts to know who takes advantage of this perk and resentment grows.  Not great for a team.

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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Hula Hoop on October 21, 2017, 06:50:45 AM
I agree that using sick time for anything other than being home sick in unethical.  If you have to lie to your colleagues/employer and say "I'm sick today" then that's unethical.  If you could say to your employer "I'm taking a mental health day" then that's OK as it's not a lie.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Brother Esau on October 21, 2017, 07:04:09 AM
I just started a new job that accumulates 1 sick day per month worked. I won't use all of it each year but will use the majority. Zero guilt.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Wilson Hall on October 21, 2017, 09:19:34 AM
I think it depends on your workplace.

I've worked at a few places that had the "if you are sick, stay home" policy.  You did not accrue sick time.  You had unlimited sick time, though if you got to over 25 days they'd start asking questions.  This was great because my first kid was born and I was sick as a dog that entire winter.  I was maybe healthy for 30 total days.  Yes, I still worked most of those days.  But I probably took at least 10 sick days.  As I'd been working plenty of unpaid OT for years before, zero guilt!

But then companies switched to PTO, which I hate.  Because people think that it's all vacation, and they don't want to take sick time.  So they come to work sick.

My husband gets separate sick leave, but in our state they have to pay it out when you leave.  If I worked at a place where I was awarded sick time, and it was use or lose, I'd use it - no question.  As long as it was a reasonable amount (5-7 days a year).  Where I have worked, sick time can be used for being sick, going to the doctor, or staying home with a sick kid.

Add me to the list of people who donít like PTO. At the last job where I had it, when I requested 2+ weeks for a vacation, the response was: ďThatís a lot of time. What if you get sick?Ē

I turned in my notice shortly thereafter.

Like many here, Iím in favor of using sick leave occasionally for mental health days and whatnot as long as thereís room in my schedule AND Iím not inconveniencing any of my colleagues. When I leave my current employer, Iíll only get a percentage of whatever sick leave balance I have, based on my number of years on the job.

In Slee Stackís defense, however, it can be a real pain to pick up othersí workload when theyíre out for dubious health conditions. My organization is having a hell of a time getting rid of an employee who, in addition to being out ďsickĒ about half the time, has a piss-poor work ethic while heís in the office and has even been insubordinate to our boss. Itís not good for the morale of everyone picking up his work, and the word around the grapevine is that HR is too afraid of a lawsuit by pushing him out.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv on October 21, 2017, 10:43:10 AM
Ethically, I think it's ok to take an illegitimate sick day
Surely something that is illegitimate is unethical.  So you just said "Ethically, I think it's ok to be unethical".

Not quite.

It depends on your interpretation of the rule or law that legitimacy is derived from.

If you view a rule as wrong or flawed, breaking it is ethical.  For example, it was legitimate for Germans in WWII to send Jews to concentration camps.  Schindler broke this rule, but I suspect few would argue that he was acting unethically.

Obviously the same kind of clear cut argument cannot be made for taking sick leave. . . but let me take a stab at a potential argument:

If you believe that sick leave time is part of a benefit that you have negotiated for as work, and you will lose that benefit when you quit or retire then that's an unethical wrong being done to you by your employer.  If this is the case, then and argument can be made that it's not unethical to take full advantage of that benefit by pretending to be sick.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Catbert on October 21, 2017, 10:43:32 AM
As a grumpy, retired HR manager count me among those that think you should only use sick leave when you're sick (or a family member is sick if that's how your system works). 

Think of sick leave as a form of insurance.  You save up those days in case sometime you get sick.  If you don't get sick then you don't need to use that "insurance".  No different than paying into state disability insurance for years and never using.  Or paying for home/rental insurance.  Most people don't feel screwed because they never became disabled or got burgled and left all that money on the table.

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: farfromfire on October 21, 2017, 11:21:53 AM
...it was legitimate for Germans in WWII to send Jews to concentration camps. 
I understand what you were trying to say, but this is a foolish way to say it.
Quote
Schindler broke this rule.
Wrong.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: zinnie on October 21, 2017, 11:25:57 AM
Maybe the difference is that I've never worked in a job in which duties are shared to the extent that a single sick person changes the entire dynamics of everyone's day and productivity.

It isn't just about job duties being shared, in my experience. When you're responsible for products and systems that need to be up and running 24/7, and when certain people are point people for specific things in an organization, a team member being out affects the others in that they need to take on some of that work for the day to keep the ship running. Again, in my personal experience, that makes the people who call out sick NOT abuse that privilege, because they have to also ask their coworker to do XYZ for them. And in a good working relationship the coworker says of course they will do it and the sick person returns the favor next time. Same for being out for vacation.

Reading this board makes me think I've only worked in model work environments! I could NOT handle consistent slackers or people leaving early and sticking others with their work--that would have been completely unacceptable in my department, would prevent any promotions, would get that person managed out, etc. In my experience those types of people dig their own graves, so there isn't any point worrying about them...
 

So you equate people who take sick time with slacking? Interesting. My field is known for its long work hours (we work 15 hour days fairly often, 7 days/week for months at a stretch at times) and I don't know a single slacker, but we simply don't share work duties. We don't work in teams, except perhaps intellectual collaborations at times. We're promoted based on our individual performance, not group efforts. Taking sick days strategically is common, and the smart thing to do in our environment. I would say we work in a model work environment precisely because we don't depend on others for our performance, but are judged based on our own work. I can see how being part of a larger group with interdependencies would change the dynamic, since everyone shares work and effort. I've never worked in a job like that and I can see how it would be a benefit to share labor, but have the drawback of being dependent on others to do your job, hence caring about others' time off.

I didn't mean to say that people who take sick time are slackers at all! If you're sick, use it. Absolutely. When I found people acting sick at work and trying to power through the day I always told them to go home. I was referring to another poster who was talking about others taking off early and resenting being stuck with their work. Sorry, should have quoted or something.

What area are you in where there are no interdependencies? Of course people are only judged based on their own performance, but how can a company operate when what one person does don't affect anyone else? I'm not trying to be obtuse, I'm just curious what context this is in. I guess I could imagine this in a place where each person has their own clients and doesn't touch anyone else's--like a lawyer/psychiatrist/doctor, etc.

My experience is in developing and producing digital textbooks. Books have specific publication dates that need to be hit because classes are starting, so if someone is out others step in to keep the timeline on track. And when you are responsible for student-facing websites and apps, those of course always need to be up and running and any issues need to be fixed right away. 

I can see why working more independently could be preferable as well. I always enjoyed the team environment--where people have their own responsibilities and areas of focus but are also willing to help each other out and are working towards the same goal. It helps the sick people or those on vacation completely leave work at work and not think about it while they are gone, too! I guess I could see a lot of situations where this wouldn't be optimal, though :)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: ozmickey on October 21, 2017, 12:03:12 PM
I think if I had over 1000 hours of sick time, I would be using it for doctor/dentist/mental health days.

Let me tell you my back story. I worked for old company, it was sold to new corporation. After six months, I was retrenched.

Legally, they didn't have to pay me out (in Australia) BUT I am still resentful over losing over three hundred hours of sick time. I feel that they stole the money from me.

I have decided that I will never allow my sick time get so high again. If I am not ill, I will legitimately use the time for a mental health day or a preventive doctor appointment.

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: lbmustache on October 21, 2017, 12:07:17 PM
I'm with you. No idea why anyone would feel bad about taking what is given to them. My little woman takes everyone of hers. There is a lady at the museum that rarely uses any of her sick days.... crazy. If I had a job I'd be sick every day so I'd quickly run out of sick days. lol

I agree!!! I'm shocked at all the responses mentioning guilt or to not use it. You earn that sick time, you are free to use it as necessary. I take mental health days fairly frequently but I still have a bunch of sick time. :( I am probably going to leave this job within the next year and annoyingly, CA law says that employers are not legally obligated to pay out remaining sick time (unlike vacation or generic PTO). I'm a bit stuck because I can't work from home and I can't miss every other work day... le sigh.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX on October 21, 2017, 12:09:25 PM
If you dont feel your job is worthwhile why are you spending a huge portion of your life there?

Money. Health insurance.

Though I do think my job is worthwhile.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX on October 21, 2017, 12:13:51 PM
I'm with you. No idea why anyone would feel bad about taking what is given to them. My little woman takes everyone of hers. There is a lady at the museum that rarely uses any of her sick days.... crazy. If I had a job I'd be sick every day so I'd quickly run out of sick days. lol

I agree!!! I'm shocked at all the responses mentioning guilt or to not use it. You earn that sick time, you are free to use it as necessary. I take mental health days fairly frequently but I still have a bunch of sick time. :( I am probably going to leave this job within the next year and annoyingly, CA law says that sick leave cannot be paid out (unlike vacation or generic PTO). I'm a bit stuck because I can't work from home and I can't miss every other work day... le sigh.

Got any nagging physical issues? Back pain? Stiff neck? Incipient carpal tunnel?

Get a referral, and go through physical therapy to get it resolved. Go to every session allowed, probably 2x per week. For my insurance anyway, they tend to authorize a conservative number of days (perhaps 6-8) and then when you hit the end without being totally rehabbed, they extend you an additional 3-4 days. Then if you hit the end without resolution, they issue another couple of days.

FAR too many people neglect these chronic physical issues, and it is a legitimate use of sick time.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: lbmustache on October 21, 2017, 12:19:16 PM
Ethically, I think it's ok to take an illegitimate sick day
Surely something that is illegitimate is unethical.  So you just said "Ethically, I think it's ok to be unethical".

Count me as one of the "use it for real sickness only".  It's the right thing to do...for me it goes back to feeling loyalty/duty in a job.  If you dont feel your job is worthwhile why are you spending a huge portion of your life there?  I agree with the poster who said that everyone around the office starts to know who takes advantage of this perk and resentment grows.  Not great for a team.

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. Unless the company treats you like a college student, where you need to provide a doctor's note for your "absence," I really don't think they have any say in what constitutes a sick day for yourself. "Real sickness" is such a broad term... is bad anxiety real sickness? A common cold? The flu? A headache? Who decides?

Loyalty/duty towards your job is fine, but as plenty of stories over time show, companies will do what is beneficial for them. Been there for 20 years? Showed up every day, even through that terrible flu and that family death? Cool, you've been laid off for XY and Z reason.

This kind of mentality is what leads to people being overworked and miserable at their jobs, and just reinforces the thinking behind not taking vacation days. You have earned that time.

Taking the occasional day off is not "lazy" and does not throw the company into disarray. Some of you may be overthinking your importance to your company. Almost everyone is replaceable.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: lbmustache on October 21, 2017, 12:20:36 PM
I'm with you. No idea why anyone would feel bad about taking what is given to them. My little woman takes everyone of hers. There is a lady at the museum that rarely uses any of her sick days.... crazy. If I had a job I'd be sick every day so I'd quickly run out of sick days. lol

I agree!!! I'm shocked at all the responses mentioning guilt or to not use it. You earn that sick time, you are free to use it as necessary. I take mental health days fairly frequently but I still have a bunch of sick time. :( I am probably going to leave this job within the next year and annoyingly, CA law says that sick leave cannot be paid out (unlike vacation or generic PTO). I'm a bit stuck because I can't work from home and I can't miss every other work day... le sigh.

Got any nagging physical issues? Back pain? Stiff neck? Incipient carpal tunnel?

Get a referral, and go through physical therapy to get it resolved. Go to every session allowed, probably 2x per week. For my insurance anyway, they tend to authorize a conservative number of days (perhaps 6-8) and then when you hit the end without being totally rehabbed, they extend you an additional 3-4 days. Then if you hit the end without resolution, they issue another couple of days.

FAR too many people neglect these chronic physical issues, and it is a legitimate use of sick time.

I do actually have a constant neck issue! However, I am a college professor... I would have to get a long-term sub as I can't leave my class hanging for weeks at a time :P
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX on October 21, 2017, 12:32:47 PM
I'm with you. No idea why anyone would feel bad about taking what is given to them. My little woman takes everyone of hers. There is a lady at the museum that rarely uses any of her sick days.... crazy. If I had a job I'd be sick every day so I'd quickly run out of sick days. lol

I agree!!! I'm shocked at all the responses mentioning guilt or to not use it. You earn that sick time, you are free to use it as necessary. I take mental health days fairly frequently but I still have a bunch of sick time. :( I am probably going to leave this job within the next year and annoyingly, CA law says that sick leave cannot be paid out (unlike vacation or generic PTO). I'm a bit stuck because I can't work from home and I can't miss every other work day... le sigh.

Got any nagging physical issues? Back pain? Stiff neck? Incipient carpal tunnel?

Get a referral, and go through physical therapy to get it resolved. Go to every session allowed, probably 2x per week. For my insurance anyway, they tend to authorize a conservative number of days (perhaps 6-8) and then when you hit the end without being totally rehabbed, they extend you an additional 3-4 days. Then if you hit the end without resolution, they issue another couple of days.

FAR too many people neglect these chronic physical issues, and it is a legitimate use of sick time.

I do actually have a constant neck issue! However, I am a college professor... I would have to get a long-term sub as I can't leave my class hanging for weeks at a time :P

You are sacrificing your physical wellbeing for a job, even though you have a massive amount of sick leave banked to take care of it. Health insurance and time to get healthy is part of the package your employer offered you when you took that job.

Ridiculous to ignore it. 

Don't be a martyr to the job. Make them get a sub. You have a legitimate health issue impacting your quality of life, and it needs to be dealt with. Ignoring these things makes them harder (or even impossible) to deal with later.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: johndoe on October 21, 2017, 02:12:02 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX on October 21, 2017, 03:31:14 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: johndoe on October 21, 2017, 03:48:35 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: jim555 on October 21, 2017, 04:10:47 PM
I left a lot of sick days in my bank before I left my company because it is wrong to take them if I wasn't sick.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: dreaming on October 21, 2017, 04:14:39 PM
Before my company switched to PTO, we had sick and vacation days.  I didn't use the sick days very often so they accumulated.  I ended up using some of them and said I was taking a mental health day.  My boss was fine with that.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: lbmustache on October 21, 2017, 05:31:23 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?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: johndoe on October 21, 2017, 08:27:21 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?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Kepler on October 21, 2017, 08:35:11 PM
I have worked with my current employer for a long time, sick day allocations are generous, and they roll over.  The only "medical" issues I have had have been associated with maternity leave, and those come out of a different bucket - weirdly, I wasn't allowed to claim sick leave while on maternity leave, even though a chunk of my maternity leave was unpaid and the extra would have been useful, but new sick leave entitlements just kept accruing the whole time I was away, because maternity leave counts as "service".  I have over 140 days accrued...

I am currently looking at other jobs.  If I move within the sector, some institutions will let you transfer the whole balance, most cap the transferred balance at 30-40 days, and some won't transfer it at all.  It is not paid out, so if I don't use it, and I can't transfer it, it's just gone.

I have watched lots of people mysterious take extended periods of sick leave - often in the form of 'stress leave' - and then, when that was used up, pop up at another institution.  In fact, it's more common to do that not, and I would infer that people already have the other job in hand before they go on 'stress leave', and use the sick leave benefit for a bit of a break between two positions (in my field, it's not unusual to get a job offer several months before the job actually starts - and it's also common to be able to negotiate a later start, even if the job could potentially start immediately: jobs are often filled with people from other states or other countries, so delayed starts are sort of a built-in assumption of the process).  My workplace /is/ stressful in various ways, but nevertheless it's so clear that this is what people are doing, that I'm unsure how they are getting doctors to sign off on it.  We have to provide a certificate to take more than three days, and some people are taking sick leave for six months: how much interaction with a doctor are they having to take, to get signed off for that long? 

At the moment, I'm in a weird position where, for the first time, I actually /have/ been significantly ill this year.  I was injured in July, sort of blew it off for a couple weeks, made the injury much much worse, and then was in really serious, work-disrupting, pain for a couple weeks, and follow-up medical care involves medical appointments once or twice a week - and, although things have suddenly gotten much better so maybe the end is in sight, the current medical advice is that appointments will probably continue for at least another six months, and possibly longer.  Now, I work from home most of the time and, except for the two-week period when things were really bad, I basically just sit in waiting rooms, answering emails on my phone, in a way that's more or less indistinguishable from my sitting at my desk at home answering emails...  Even during the two week really bad bit, I still did essential work from home, including some phone meetings, but I did have to cancel or ask other people to cover some things for which I would normally go into the office. 

Still: I put in a sick leave claim for the two-week period, and would be happy to put in a claim for the days I'm hanging out in medical waiting rooms.  However, my manage rejects the claims.  Not in the sense that he's denying me permission to stay home from work.  He just keeps going, "Keep your sick leave for when you really need it".  When I've pressed him on this, he says that sick leave is "all or nothing" - that I can't take sick leave while still being available on email, etc.  I do understand this, and certainly I think it can be important if someone is more seriously ill than I have been, that they don't feel pressure to reply to work emails.  From my point of view, however, my life is easier if I can spend a bit of time keeping things ticking along - it would be a much bigger mess if I were just to have suddenly become totally unavailable, even for things I could still do around illness.  I've offered to pro-rate the sick leave claims somehow - to say that, on X dates, I was only available for Y hours - but I've been told that "HR don't like that": that you are either sick, or well, for day-long chunks.  I've also offered to tally up the hours I've been ill, and put in a claim for day-equivalent sick time.  This gets us back to "Keep your sick leave for when you really need it."

So basically: I haven't been allowed to take sick leave while on mat leave (but took unpaid leave instead).  And I haven't been allowed to take sick leave while sick (but was paid as if I'd been at work normally).  I feel guilty about somehow convincing a doctor to sign me off for 140+ days on the grounds of "stress" - but I also feel a bit like I'm leaving benefits on the table.  I'm happy to walk away and lose the days I think I "ought" to have taken sick leave anyway - I feel like my manager is being weird rejecting those claims - but the balance is so huge at this point that, even if I write those days off, we're still talking months of accrued benefit.  I'm not sure how people would react if I tried to take two days a week over an extended period - there is a murky provision that allows HR to check fitness for work if there are a lot of short absences for illness, and I've never seen anyone burn their sick leave that way here, which suggests they might actually be serious about pursuing it. 

I also have an excess of /other/ kinds of leave - just "won" a paid sabbatical, and then I have months of annual leave to take - so I can't realistically do much about the massive sick leave accrual in the short term.  But this means it'll just keep growing...  We do have ageing parents elsewhere in the world, and some of me has been wondering about using up some of this balance as 'carer' leave to travel overseas to spend some time with them but, while they are certainly getting to the point that they could use some help periodically, there's nothing dramatic or acute that absolutely requires us to do this, so I wouldn't know how you'd get a doctor to evidence it. 
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Erica on October 21, 2017, 10:47:27 PM
I'm a Christian and this wouldn't bother me in the least
I think the guilt is misplaced.

Sick leave is earned. You just say you are "under the weather"

How do you know when you are tired, you are not slightly sick?

In fact, you probably are. Something is going awry when you feel stressed or under the weather

Freely use what you earned

I am glad we have Paid Time off only- PTO

All of us encourage each other to take theirs by covering for one another

Although no one really wants to cover the other

We are overworked and into Overtime already so boss lets us get paid for the time by switching shifts

And if we are sick, that is the only time it is mentioned

Otherwise we don't ask one another about the reasons for missed days

All of us are private people so that probably helps

.


Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: anadyne on October 22, 2017, 06:09:02 AM
Huh, at our work we simply say to the admin assistant "Hi Grace, please record Tuesday and Wednesday as PSL [paid sick leave] for me, thanks" - no need to lie, no need to fake illness, no need to describe mucous coming out of your body, no need to detail mental health, stress, injury - health is a private issue. Sick leave is just accounting. "I am taking 16 hours of PSL this week on X and Y days" The rest of the paid hours come out of the other salary pool. Done.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: BudgetSlasher on October 22, 2017, 08:28:52 AM
Huh, at our work we simply say to the admin assistant "Hi Grace, please record Tuesday and Wednesday as PSL [paid sick leave] for me, thanks" - no need to lie, no need to fake illness, no need to describe mucous coming out of your body, no need to detail mental health, stress, injury - health is a private issue. Sick leave is just accounting. "I am taking 16 hours of PSL this week on X and Y days" The rest of the paid hours come out of the other salary pool. Done.

At my employer, all you have to say is that you will be out sick and management cannot ask any details. There is an exception if you are out a certain number of consecutive days they may ask for a doctor's note, but again all it has to say is that you are sick without any details. At, this employer I have never seen the ability to ask invoked and I suspect it would only be used if clear abuse was suspected.

A prior employer had a similar policy and I only saw it used once. It was when abuse was suspected and they ultimately where not allowed to use it because X consecutive days out meant entire days and the employee came in on the morning of the last day for an hour before going home. But, the employees behavior made it pretty clear to most that they were not sick. In addition others were required to cover the absent employee's workload any prior notice, unlike vacation which normally required prior approval.

So long as an unannounced day off does not require someone to pickup your workload unexpectedly I don't care if co-worker takes a random personal day, sick day, compensation time  or even if they were allowed to take vacation without the normal prior approval (and yes those are all different classes of time off that different position may have). In fact I currently have a co-worker who I am fairly certain does just that with their sick time, but no deadlines have been missed and no work has been urgently shifted to other employees (ah the myth of the 40-hour work week for some).

Where I am now the younger crowd often sits on sick time as a de facto short-term disability; we can accrue approximately 1,000 hours of sick time on the books (beyond that it is called lapse sick and is allowed with management, as opposed to freely, mostly more catastrophic medical issues, often followed by a leave bank for donations). Where as those approaching retirement realize that they only get credit/cashed out for somewhere around 700 hours and will often lower their threshold for sick. With accrual rate and a 3-year period to retirement that works out to about 2 days a month.

As far as I am concerned regarding the ethics of taking sick time when not really "sick". So long as you are fully meeting our exceeding the expectations of your position and are not unfairly requiring other people to do your work when you are off for a day, I see no harm. In fact if you can meet or exceed expectations I see it, ethically, on the same level are requiring a 40-hour work week (from what I assume is a salaried position) when 40 hours of work is not required to meet the demands of the job.

As an aside, I would much rather have co-workers how take burn their sick time as they want or that lower what qualifies as sick, than work with a bunch of people who tough it up and come in sick because they have to get something accomplished or don't think they are sick enough. More often then not, in my experiences, they wind up getting sicker and having to take sick time anyways (but hey, at least we all know they weren't faking it). Meanwhile what could have been one employee out sick turns into 3 or 4 more infected; the last time this happened I was one of the first of the wave infected at work and by the time I came back to work a full 50 percent of our unit was out sick.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: dreams_and_discoveries on October 22, 2017, 08:42:39 AM
Wow- it seems like a huge difference in culture across the pond, here in the UK sick leave is for when you are actually too ill to come in and do your job, and employers routinely ask for sicknotes after a week.  Most employers have sickness management policies, to reduce sickness, make any adjustments needed and keep productivity high. However, we generally get good sick leave - it's common for employers to have offerings such as six months full pay, then six months half pay.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: MrThatsDifferent on October 22, 2017, 08:43:44 AM
I used 2 legitimate days of sick leave for the first time, when I was actually knocked out by the flu. I was away from work for 5 days in total but used the other day as work from home. Typically any time Iím stressed or a bit run down and not feeling well, I just work from home and get everything done without having anyone coming into my office. But those 2 days I couldnít keep my head up and looking at screens hurt so I literally did nothing for work.

Iíve seen my younger staff claim sick days a lot and I wonder how many of them are weekend induced?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Brother Esau on October 22, 2017, 09:44:22 AM
Huh, at our work we simply say to the admin assistant "Hi Grace, please record Tuesday and Wednesday as PSL [paid sick leave] for me, thanks" - no need to lie, no need to fake illness, no need to describe mucous coming out of your body, no need to detail mental health, stress, injury - health is a private issue. Sick leave is just accounting. "I am taking 16 hours of PSL this week on X and Y days" The rest of the paid hours come out of the other salary pool. Done.

Pretty much as simple as this.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: RedmondStash on October 22, 2017, 10:01:41 AM
Wow- it seems like a huge difference in culture across the pond, here in the UK sick leave is for when you are actually too ill to come in and do your job, and employers routinely ask for sicknotes after a week.

That's largely true in the U.S. too, except our policies tend to be stingier. Remember that on this board, there are a lot of people who ruthlessly optimize and game their lives in order to reach FIRE. This isn't a criticism; so much of the deck is stacked against employees that I applaud people who commit to taking care of themselves, because the companies they work for surely won't, and take advantage of their employees in any way they can.

Twenty years ago, vacation and sick leave for new jobs typically started at two weeks each per year, for four weeks total. In my current job, I started out at three weeks of combined PTO. I rarely take sick leave; if I'm unwell, I more often spend part of the day working from home, as much as I can, and then take the rest of the day as PTO. (I know that's not an option for everyone.) But at my job, no one else has to do my work if I'm not there. It just waits for me.

Most companies I've worked for have a policy wherein if you take 3 or more consecutive days of sick leave, they ask for a doctor's note. That's been true for decades.

I do think there's more pressure in the U.S. to perform, produce, improve, become more efficient -- to the point at which people are scared to take sick leave because they might get fired in favor of someone new, eager, and cheaper. You know you're just a replaceable cog in a machine. Plenty of people at my current job come in when they're sick, and thus infect others, partly because they don't want to spend what could otherwise be vacation time.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Anon in Alaska on October 22, 2017, 10:02:56 AM
Can you come in half an hour later, leave half an hour earlier, and take an hours sick leave every day?

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX on October 22, 2017, 12:05:45 PM
Wow- it seems like a huge difference in culture across the pond, here in the UK sick leave is for when you are actually too ill to come in and do your job, and employers routinely ask for sicknotes after a week.  Most employers have sickness management policies, to reduce sickness, make any adjustments needed and keep productivity high. However, we generally get good sick leave - it's common for employers to have offerings such as six months full pay, then six months half pay.

If the leave policies in the USA weren't so stingy, I think that there would be a lot less pressure to try and "use up" sick leave.

A typical UK worker gets roughly 3x as much vacation leave as a typical US worker.  There is often a lot of pressure on the US worker to not even use the stingy vacation time they do get.

Combine those two, and there's a lot of incentive to take the occasional "sick day" off due to stress.

Where I work, on the 3rd consecutive day where any sick leave is recorded (even just an hour) - I need a doctor's note. So, if you go home an hour early Tuesday because you're feeling poorly, you better be OK by Thursday's start time, or you have to go to the doc for documentation, even if it's a total waste of everyone's time and money.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: libertarian4321 on October 22, 2017, 12:17:23 PM
I guess it comes down to how you define "sick."

We all know the workaholic types who drag themselves into work, coughing, blowing snot and spreading disease to the rest of the staff, thinking they are being noble because they are not "really sick."

Others will take sick days at the drop of a hat.  For diseases like "Spring Fever" or "Mental Health Days" or "I'm taking my dog to the vet."

My wife is in the first group.  When (if?) she ever lets go of her job, she'll retire with hundreds of days of available sick leave, and get NOTHING for them.  She'd have to be incapacitated to actually take a sick day.

I'm probably a lot closer to the second.  If I have a bad case of gas and a few sick days accrued, I'll take the day off.  That way, I don't end up just tossing away the benefit, and my co-workers don't have to deal with the fallout from the 4-bean burritos I ate the night before.  It works out better for everyone. :)

If I could get some money for them, I'd just let them accrue and take the cash.  But if it's a "use or lose" thing, I say burn the sick leave.

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GetItRight on October 22, 2017, 01:23:10 PM
All this talk of "think of what you're doing to your coworkers" is silly. Think of what you're doing to them when you take vacation, same thing. If the company is so short staffed that taking a Monday or Friday off is that big a deal, then they get what they get. It's a sign of poor management, let the symptoms of understaffing and no cross-training show and they will be resolved if the company cares or it affects anything that's actually important.

That being said, my employer gives two pools. PTO and vacation. PTO is one week a year for everyone and does not carry over. Vacation you can accrue to a limit. So PTO is use it or lose it. They're not sick days explicitly. Need to take half a day for a doctor or to deal with something personal, use PTO. Personally I use all my PTO for vacation before using vacation days. It's part of my compensation, I will use it.

Granted I have a day or two of PTO left plus a bunch of vacation and wasn't feeling well a couple weeks ago, but did not take any time off. My colleague was out and I was bad enough I'd have liked to take a day or two that week but it wasn't practical for staffing reasons as well as my schedule was pretty full with meetings all week that I really couldn't put off. It just didn't make sense to take a "sick day", so I went in sick and worked 10-12 hours every day that week. I'll take those two "sick days" later when it's practical to do so, and use them for something that's easier to do during the day or for something fun. It's give and take, if you do the needful when required don't feel bad about taking time when it's practical to do so. if your employer has a problem with this is sounds like a bad work environment, start looking if you're not close to FIRE.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: anadyne 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?   
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: kimmarg 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: jim555 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: dresden 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: FIRE Artist 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. 
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: TomTX 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!
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: lbmustache 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."
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: LaineyAZ 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Kepler 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: BFGirl 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: PoutineLover 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: me1 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?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: EricL 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. 
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: golden1 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.   

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: johndoe 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: The Fake Cheap 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."

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Brother Esau 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: ixtap 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: lbmustache 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?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: retired? 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. 
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: dresden 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: alsoknownasDean 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 :)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Vegasgirl 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: ponyboy 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: The Fake Cheap 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: former player 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy 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.)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Kepler 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Kepler 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Samuel 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.


Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: scantee 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.)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy 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?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: charis 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: scantee 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: FIRE Artist 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: FIRE Artist 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: PoutineLover 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: scantee 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy 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").
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: PoutineLover 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: scantee 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.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 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.

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: robartsd 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).
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy on October 25, 2017, 11:52:29 AM
I'm not tracking what your point is over your last few comments.
...
You think their usage of sick leave should be more closely monitored to catch abusers

You automatically assume abuse. I'm asking if it really is. That's the point of this thread.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: scantee on October 25, 2017, 12:10:41 PM
I'm not tracking what your point is over your last few comments.
...
You think their usage of sick leave should be more closely monitored to catch abusers

You automatically assume abuse. I'm asking if it really is. That's the point of this thread.

I'm not assuming abuse.

My opinion is that this is, like pretty much everything in life, not a black and white situation. There is a spectrum of ethicality from almost universally agreed as totally ethical (using a sick day because you're vomiting from food poisoning) to totally unethical (booking a seven-day vacation to Hawaii six months advance and then charging it to sick time). The disagreement here is over the big grey area in between those two poles and where each of us places our dividing line. I place my line in such a place that I don't think there are a lot of unethical uses of sick time.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy on October 25, 2017, 12:19:42 PM


I'm not tracking what your point is over your last few comments.
...
You think their usage of sick leave should be more closely monitored to catch abusers

You automatically assume abuse. I'm asking if it really is. That's the point of this thread.

I'm not assuming abuse.
...
 totally unethical (booking a seven-day vacation to Hawaii six months advance and then charging it to sick time).

That line to me seems to be assuming abuse.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: kanga1622 on October 25, 2017, 12:24:14 PM
Our policy is clearly spelled out that sick leave is not to be used when kids are sick or you are taking care of someone else - it is to be used only if the employee is sick or for medical appointments. I can honestly say that makes very little sense to me and both DH and I (work for the same employer in very different capacities as this is a very large employer) have called in sick when taking care of kids. Typically because if the kids are sick with fevers or a stomach bug, we likely have the same or a milder version (this sorta gives us the "okay" to stay home to recover ourselves). If they are honestly out with ear infections or other non contagious things, we use vacation days. We also are honest and use vacation days when we are out because daycare is closed or school has a conference day and we don't have care for our school aged kid.

I have a huge dose of Catholic guilt and feel like my conscience should be my guide. I have always had good supervisors where being open/honest about my reasons for not being at work has created a great working relationship. I have ZERO fear that my sick leave usage will ever be an issue and have done everything within my power to schedule surgery or other procedures to be the least disruptive.

I have always wondered how employers that have payout policies estimate how much expense to "hold back" to cover leave for retiring/leaving employees. Think about how some of those leave hours were earned 20 years ago at a much lower salary vs. the payout rate.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: scantee on October 25, 2017, 12:38:20 PM


I'm not tracking what your point is over your last few comments.
...
You think their usage of sick leave should be more closely monitored to catch abusers

You automatically assume abuse. I'm asking if it really is. That's the point of this thread.

I'm not assuming abuse.
...
 totally unethical (booking a seven-day vacation to Hawaii six months advance and then charging it to sick time).

That line to me seems to be assuming abuse.

It is. For me. My personal line is that there are a few instances in which someone could abuse their sick time in unethical ways (e.g., using sick time for pre-planned vacations). Others might not think that this, or any use of sick time in any way, is abuse. Others think things I find completely ethical (occasional mental health days) as abuse. It seems the relevant question is figuring out a norm for what constitutes ethical/unethical that takes into account all of these varying perspectives.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: arebelspy on October 25, 2017, 12:43:14 PM


It seems the relevant question is figuring out a norm for what constitutes ethical/unethical that takes into account all of these varying perspectives.

Even if we could all agree on a moral framework, we'd still all interpret it differently.

Not least because of the fundamental attribution error.

I think the question is meant to solicit the various opinions, rather than try to reach consensus.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: robartsd on October 25, 2017, 03:06:49 PM
I'm very glad that my company doesn't have separate sick leave.  We just get 4 extra days of PTO per year and if you are sick more than a week, short term disability kicks in.  Having said that, they recently changed their policy and will not be paying out any unused PTO days when an employee leaves, so I am definitely planning to use it all up before I quit next year.  But at least I don't have to pretend to be sick :-)
In some states (I'm in California) the employer is required to pay out PTO at separation.

There is a fellow at my work who has accrued something over 5,000 hours of sick time in decades on the job. Because he never takes his vacation time or sick time - just comp time from working extra hours other times. Annually, the vacation (above a cap) rolls into sick time, which is unlimited.

No sick payout at retirement, but it does count as "time served" toward the retirement check.
That's crazy! Why would sick time roll over like that? It seems like it defeats the purpose of sick time--it's not like your frequency of sickness has any correlation to how long you've been with a company :)
I've never heard of vacation rolling into sick time (I think that would be illegal in California too, but California does allow a vacation cap where you stop accruing vacation - I imagine that a policy that increases sick leave accrual when you reach the vacation cap would be allowable). I think the idea behind treating unused sick as time worked is that people who work until normal retirement age are likely to require more sick time in their last few years. Eventually it gets to the point where it would be better to have them officially retire than accept the increasing frequency of unplanned time off. Of course lots of people also game the system, burning vacation & sick leave before separating; this can have even more advantage than converting sick time to service time - in some cases they get the time paid, they get the service time, and they accrue more leave credits while doing it.

LOL seriously?  You honestly don't think that vacation can be used for everything?
DW worked for a company that pressured employees to schedule at least x consecutive days of vacation each year - lots of parents there stressed out about not having enough PTO if someone got sick.

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: surfhb on October 25, 2017, 03:55:27 PM
If taking a sick day put any hardships on my co workers I would definitely think twice before taking one.    Fortunately that's not the case. 

I've literally have "texted in sick" with my wetsuit on ready to paddle out on a beautiful California Day.....now that could be called a mental health day for sure. :)   
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Tonyahu on October 25, 2017, 04:24:13 PM
I'd say start taking the occasional mental health day, once or twice a month. It really can do wonders for your productivity, so there's no need to feel guilty. You don't have to use it all up, but you don't have to let it all just sit there either.

It should not be a burden to your coworkers; if your company budgets X days of sick leave per person as part of the compensation package, then that's how many lost days they've already budgeted for.

Most places I've worked that have separate sick leave & vacation don't let sick leave roll over; you get maybe 2 weeks a year, and it vanishes at the end of each year. Yours sounds like an unusual situation.

This.

You are due those sick days, use them for Mental Health. This is a very valid reason.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 on October 25, 2017, 04:25:51 PM
Our policy is clearly spelled out that sick leave is not to be used when kids are sick or you are taking care of someone else - it is to be used only if the employee is sick or for medical appointments. I can honestly say that makes very little sense to me and both DH and I (work for the same employer in very different capacities as this is a very large employer) have called in sick when taking care of kids. Typically because if the kids are sick with fevers or a stomach bug, we likely have the same or a milder version (this sorta gives us the "okay" to stay home to recover ourselves). If they are honestly out with ear infections or other non contagious things, we use vacation days. We also are honest and use vacation days when we are out because daycare is closed or school has a conference day and we don't have care for our school aged kid.

I have a huge dose of Catholic guilt and feel like my conscience should be my guide. I have always had good supervisors where being open/honest about my reasons for not being at work has created a great working relationship. I have ZERO fear that my sick leave usage will ever be an issue and have done everything within my power to schedule surgery or other procedures to be the least disruptive.

I have always wondered how employers that have payout policies estimate how much expense to "hold back" to cover leave for retiring/leaving employees. Think about how some of those leave hours were earned 20 years ago at a much lower salary vs. the payout rate.
Well, every employer that I've worked for has used a system (now online) where they track your accrued sick time and vacation time.  It's expensed (or listed as money owed) by your hourly rate.  Thus, a few years ago, when we were running out of money and had a lot of "debt" to the employees, the company required employees to use a week of vacation before X date.  To get it off the books.

When I was in the military, the fed govt employees could accrue sick time with no cap.  However, you could "donate" hours.  And it wasn't money.  When one of our secretaries took 9 months off to care for her dying mother, many of the employees donated their excess vacation/ sick time to her.  Let me tell ya, GS-13s, 14s, 15s and SESs make way more than a secretary.  Fed Govt saved money there!
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: fuzzy math on October 25, 2017, 05:07:58 PM
In this past page, everyone seems to have zeroed in on the definition of a govt worker calling in sick necessitating a payment for another individual to do their job. In the case of teachers, yes. That doesn't mean that every other agency runs the same way. In the case of healthcare, (especially in the case of salaried workers) frequently people just absorb the extra work of the missing person and it doesn't necessarily create more hours billed.

I also take an issue with the thought that people can abuse private corporations but the government is off limits. If we are going to be held to a certain standard let's apply it evenly. Fraud is bad in every situation but let's not pretend that suddenly the government is the only one that would suffer. We all pay the indirect costs of a company who is paying out excesses due to fraud. For the record I don't give a shit if the occasional day is taken but blatant abuse needs to be identified and the person disciplined. I also agree with the person before who mentioned how ridiculous it is to be forced to get a Drs note. It is frequently impossible to get a same day appointment unless you go to urgent care and wait. And I can;t think of a more miserable way to spend my day than to have my insurance possibly not cover an urgent care visit where I Am sitting in the waiting room for 2 hours with vomiting and diarrhea, exposing all the other urgent care visitors to my illness.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Jouer on October 26, 2017, 06:43:10 AM
Quote
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.

Little bit of foam here but.....that is really crappy! 22 weeks? That's it?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: charis on October 26, 2017, 08:13:22 AM
Quote
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.

Little bit of foam here but.....that is really crappy! 22 weeks? That's it?

22 weeks is a luxury.  In my first in state government job, I got 6 weeks off.  That's all you get for a regular birth if you are not eligible for FMLA leave.   
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv on October 26, 2017, 08:27:56 AM
I wonder how much of the viewpoint of Americans regarding sick leave is driven by the relatively minimal holiday time and leave that you get relative to the rest of the world.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Vegasgirl on October 26, 2017, 09:29:28 AM
My gov't accrued sick leave is accounted for and carried as a liability in addition to my annual and comp leave balances.  Since I am under an "old" plan I'll be paid out for any remaining accrued leave upon retirement.  I'm planning to have a mixed payout between cash, additional to deferred comp and additional credited service (so higher monthly pension $$$).  I'm not taking sick leave in week blocks or anything for vacation, just mixing some sick leave days into the mix here and there to achieve my desired end results. 
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: ixtap on October 26, 2017, 09:46:17 AM
My gov't accrued sick leave is accounted for and carried as a liability in addition to my annual and comp leave balances.  Since I am under an "old" plan I'll be paid out for any remaining accrued leave upon retirement.  I'm planning to have a mixed payout between cash, additional to deferred comp and additional credited service (so higher monthly pension $$$).  I'm not taking sick leave in week blocks or anything for vacation, just mixing some sick leave days into the mix here and there to achieve my desired end results.

Yes, I think it is agreed that sick leave that will be paid out is accounted for. The question whether or not use it or lose it sick leave is actuarized.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 on October 26, 2017, 10:03:22 AM
Quote
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.

Little bit of foam here but.....that is really crappy! 22 weeks? That's it?
That is quite honestly probably the most generous state-mandated leave you can get.  If you have a caesarian, it will be 24 weeks.  For a regular birth, it breaks down as such:

Prior to due date: 4 weeks (FMLA leave + PDL -  pregnancy disability leave pay at 55-60%)
Weeks 1-6 Post-birth: 6 weeks (FMLA leave + PDL pay)
Weeks 7 - 12 Post-birth after your disability is over (after 6 weeks, generally - 8 weeks if Caesarian, longer if you are disabled by birth): 6 weeks (FMLA + CFRA + PFL paid family leave at 55% pay)
Weeks 13 - 18 Post birth: Remaining CFRA leave, no pay.

CFRA is California state-mandated leave, which runs concurrently with FMLA (federal leave) but does NOT run concurrently with PDL (disability leave).  So the actual leave time post-birth if your company is large enough comes from mostly disability + CFRA.

Some companies are more generous, but none that I've ever worked for.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Dragonswan on October 26, 2017, 10:40:47 AM
Our policy is clearly spelled out that sick leave is not to be used when kids are sick or you are taking care of someone else - it is to be used only if the employee is sick or for medical appointments. I can honestly say that makes very little sense to me and both DH and I (work for the same employer in very different capacities as this is a very large employer) have called in sick when taking care of kids. Typically because if the kids are sick with fevers or a stomach bug, we likely have the same or a milder version (this sorta gives us the "okay" to stay home to recover ourselves). If they are honestly out with ear infections or other non contagious things, we use vacation days. We also are honest and use vacation days when we are out because daycare is closed or school has a conference day and we don't have care for our school aged kid.

I have a huge dose of Catholic guilt and feel like my conscience should be my guide. I have always had good supervisors where being open/honest about my reasons for not being at work has created a great working relationship. I have ZERO fear that my sick leave usage will ever be an issue and have done everything within my power to schedule surgery or other procedures to be the least disruptive.

I have always wondered how employers that have payout policies estimate how much expense to "hold back" to cover leave for retiring/leaving employees. Think about how some of those leave hours were earned 20 years ago at a much lower salary vs. the payout rate.
Well, every employer that I've worked for has used a system (now online) where they track your accrued sick time and vacation time.  It's expensed (or listed as money owed) by your hourly rate.  Thus, a few years ago, when we were running out of money and had a lot of "debt" to the employees, the company required employees to use a week of vacation before X date.  To get it off the books.

When I was in the military, the fed govt employees could accrue sick time with no cap.  However, you could "donate" hours.  And it wasn't money.  When one of our secretaries took 9 months off to care for her dying mother, many of the employees donated their excess vacation/ sick time to her.  Let me tell ya, GS-13s, 14s, 15s and SESs make way more than a secretary.  Fed Govt saved money there!

Actually each donated day is converted to dollars based on the donor's rate of pay and then it is turned back into time based on the receiver's rate of pay. So if the GS 13 makes 100K and donates one day and the Admin makes 50K she will get two days of leave from that donation.  That's why when you beg for leave, you want it from the top.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: A Definite Beta Guy on October 26, 2017, 12:26:51 PM
My gov't accrued sick leave is accounted for and carried as a liability in addition to my annual and comp leave balances.  Since I am under an "old" plan I'll be paid out for any remaining accrued leave upon retirement.  I'm planning to have a mixed payout between cash, additional to deferred comp and additional credited service (so higher monthly pension $$$).  I'm not taking sick leave in week blocks or anything for vacation, just mixing some sick leave days into the mix here and there to achieve my desired end results.

Yes, I think it is agreed that sick leave that will be paid out is accounted for. The question whether or not use it or lose it sick leave is actuarized.

Generally speaking, no, I do not think companies carry a liability for sick time if it is "use it or lose it."

I've used a lot of sick time this year for appointments...maybe 5 days worth. My last company had me so busy I couldn't take more than an hour off without getting swamped, so I let a LOT of health stuff go. My dentist was not happy with me.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 on October 26, 2017, 01:25:22 PM
Our policy is clearly spelled out that sick leave is not to be used when kids are sick or you are taking care of someone else - it is to be used only if the employee is sick or for medical appointments. I can honestly say that makes very little sense to me and both DH and I (work for the same employer in very different capacities as this is a very large employer) have called in sick when taking care of kids. Typically because if the kids are sick with fevers or a stomach bug, we likely have the same or a milder version (this sorta gives us the "okay" to stay home to recover ourselves). If they are honestly out with ear infections or other non contagious things, we use vacation days. We also are honest and use vacation days when we are out because daycare is closed or school has a conference day and we don't have care for our school aged kid.

I have a huge dose of Catholic guilt and feel like my conscience should be my guide. I have always had good supervisors where being open/honest about my reasons for not being at work has created a great working relationship. I have ZERO fear that my sick leave usage will ever be an issue and have done everything within my power to schedule surgery or other procedures to be the least disruptive.

I have always wondered how employers that have payout policies estimate how much expense to "hold back" to cover leave for retiring/leaving employees. Think about how some of those leave hours were earned 20 years ago at a much lower salary vs. the payout rate.
Well, every employer that I've worked for has used a system (now online) where they track your accrued sick time and vacation time.  It's expensed (or listed as money owed) by your hourly rate.  Thus, a few years ago, when we were running out of money and had a lot of "debt" to the employees, the company required employees to use a week of vacation before X date.  To get it off the books.

When I was in the military, the fed govt employees could accrue sick time with no cap.  However, you could "donate" hours.  And it wasn't money.  When one of our secretaries took 9 months off to care for her dying mother, many of the employees donated their excess vacation/ sick time to her.  Let me tell ya, GS-13s, 14s, 15s and SESs make way more than a secretary.  Fed Govt saved money there!

Actually each donated day is converted to dollars based on the donor's rate of pay and then it is turned back into time based on the receiver's rate of pay. So if the GS 13 makes 100K and donates one day and the Admin makes 50K she will get two days of leave from that donation.  That's why when you beg for leave, you want it from the top.
That's good to know.  This was in the early to mid 90's.  I always wondered.  I was military, so we couldn't donate.

One of my coworkers retired after 40 years.  I think they paid him for 2 years after, because he rarely took vacation or sick time.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Kepler on October 26, 2017, 06:27:12 PM
On the accounting treatment of sick leave, I'm sure this varies, but, in my current organisation, we pay people a "loading" if they are just working casually, and this loading is meant to provide the monetary equivalent of various forms of leave.  So the theory is that it shouldn't be "cheaper" - on a per hour basis, at least - for us to hire someone casually than to do an ongoing appointment.  What saves the organisation money is that we aren't committing to paying someone throughout a whole year for work that is only needed for ten weeks or whatever.

I was in the unusual position of having a full-time "casual" appointment before I was given an ongoing appointment.  In that circumstance - when the casual hours are that high - you actually do accrue and receive annual leave - I know this, because I had brief "breaks" between casual contracts, and, since I never actually had time to take any leave during the contract period, HR "deemed" me to be on leave during those breaks, and paid out any accrued annual leave balance.  They didn't pay out any accrued sick leave balance, because I was being paid a higher wage for that purpose.  It strikes me as a bit odd, but that is, in practice, how it worked.

At some point, I was given an ongoing appointment, and my duties initial were identical to what I had been doing casually.  My pay dropped, however, because I no longer received the casual "loading".  I did, however, start accruing sick leave and entitlement for maternity leave, and also some additional retirement benefits.  I take this to mean that, in this organisation at least, these benefits are somewhat attached to a person and are viewed as fungible with monetary compensation that is actually paid out to casual staff.  That said, I think this is probably somewhat odd even within my industry (I have not found our HR people particularly reliable in their interpretation of various contractual and legal matters).  But it does lend itself to the impression that the sick leave "belongs" to the staff member, which in turn I think has led to this practice of people burning through it when they plan to quit.

My previous employer had a leave donation system, and I really like that and wish they had it here.  I have a good temporary disability insurance benefit that kicks in after six months of serious illness, and carries until long-term disability insurance kicks in: I could see some logic in accruing enough sick leave to carry through until the temporary disability insurance benefit is available, but I've already accrued sick leave in excess of that waiting period, and it would make sense for excess to go into a pool for whoever needs it.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: SnackDog on November 23, 2017, 04:19:30 AM
If you like to play golf on your "mental health" sick days, you might end up like this bloke -

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/worker-sacked-after-using-twisties-packet-to-ditch-work-for-the-golf-course/news-story/436b30c1a8ebd3c1964fa2b45b698c53 (http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/worker-sacked-after-using-twisties-packet-to-ditch-work-for-the-golf-course/news-story/436b30c1a8ebd3c1964fa2b45b698c53)
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: MrsPete on November 23, 2017, 06:47:48 AM
I had six weeks of personal leave saved up and felt the way you do.

Then suddenly out of the blue I got a debilitating illness.
This is why I hoard my 300+ sick days.  None of us know when something serious will strike. 
Our policy is clearly spelled out that sick leave is not to be used when kids are sick or you are taking care of someone else - it is to be used only if the employee is sick or for medical appointments.
Good policies are spelled out clearly.  My sick days can be used for multiple things:  My own sickness, my own doctor visits, I need to care for an immediate family member who is sick, I need to drive an immediate family member to the doctor, I am quarantined (okay, I've never known anyone to actually use it for that purpose), or the funeral of an immediate family member.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: surfhb on November 23, 2017, 10:43:29 AM
If you like to play golf on your "mental health" sick days, you might end up like this bloke -

http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/worker-sacked-after-using-twisties-packet-to-ditch-work-for-the-golf-course/news-story/436b30c1a8ebd3c1964fa2b45b698c53 (http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/worker-sacked-after-using-twisties-packet-to-ditch-work-for-the-golf-course/news-story/436b30c1a8ebd3c1964fa2b45b698c53)

He was on the job and playing golf
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Retire-Canada on November 23, 2017, 12:21:42 PM
My GF manages large numbers of people at a hospital. She routinely has to have sick leave management discussions with her staff. They fall into two camps:

1. folks that are always sick Fri/Mon and never accumulate sick leave
2. folks with sudden serious illnesses that requires time off, but they've used all their sick leave at #1

It's quite hard to stop folks from abusing sick leave since proving the person is not sick is hard. That said every year someone gets caught at the ski hill when they were supposed to be working and had called in sick. You don't get terminated for that, but it's written up and could result in termination if there were other previous disciplinary matters on your file.

The second situation is quite sad because a lot of these folks are begging her to be paid while they are off sick as they can't pay their mortgage/bills without their income and she's got to tell them there is nothing she can do since they have burned through all their sick leave already. She points them to the appropriate Gov't welfare/support programs, but when you are used to earning $100K/yr they don't help much.

My GF has had a couple surgeries and a few other non-trivial illnesses since she's worked at that hospital for the last 8yrs and still has many weeks of accumulated sick leave available. It's a generous program.

My advice is to use sick leave if you are sick. If you aren't sick save it. You really never know when you will get diagnosed with an aggressive cancer or something else serious. It could be in the last year before planned FIRE when you have "cunningly" eaten up most of your sick leave because you wanted to take as much as possible from your organization. Then you are faced with some tough choices.

Sick leave is essentially a type of insurance. If insurance fraud is unpalatable to your ethics than sick leave fraud should be as well.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Nudelkopf on November 23, 2017, 01:28:06 PM
I'm a teacher & taking an unplanned sick day is so much work. I still have to go into school to leave work on my desk for my 4x1.5hr classes. I was in hospital one night & still had to go in the next morning before 7am to leave work on my desk.

So, I regularly take planned mental health days. I'll plan a week in advance (though no one else generally knows) if I'm going to take a day off, so I can plan those lessons well ahead of time.

That being said, I also lose my planning time when others are sick. I have a little system in my head where it works out evenly. If I cover a day of someone else's classes, then I take a mental health day with zero guilt.

Every morning, my school sends out an email with all the people absent that day - from sick leave to bereavement leave to pre-natal leave. Really annoying... especially if you're pregnant & didn't really plan on telling anyone, but they publish "pre-natal sick leave" under your reason for being absent.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Peter Parker on November 23, 2017, 01:30:40 PM

Every morning, my school sends out an email with all the people absent that day - from sick leave to bereavement leave to pre-natal leave. Really annoying... especially if you're pregnant & didn't really plan on telling anyone, but they publish "pre-natal sick leave" under your reason for being absent.

Seems like a HIPPA violation??

Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: couponvan on November 23, 2017, 03:38:15 PM
I'm a teacher & taking an unplanned sick day is so much work. I still have to go into school to leave work on my desk for my 4x1.5hr classes. I was in hospital one night & still had to go in the next morning before 7am to leave work on my desk.

So, I regularly take planned mental health days. I'll plan a week in advance (though no one else generally knows) if I'm going to take a day off, so I can plan those lessons well ahead of time.

That being said, I also lose my planning time when others are sick. I have a little system in my head where it works out evenly. If I cover a day of someone else's classes, then I take a mental health day with zero guilt.

Every morning, my school sends out an email with all the people absent that day - from sick leave to bereavement leave to pre-natal leave. Really annoying... especially if you're pregnant & didn't really plan on telling anyone, but they publish "pre-natal sick leave" under your reason for being absent.

This is my company....where they publish XXXXX time in someone's schedule without saying "what" it is for 6 months in the future for 16 weeks. It effectively announces "PREGGO!!!!" to the rest of the world (or at least all the women).
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Nudelkopf on November 23, 2017, 05:15:45 PM
Every morning, my school sends out an email with all the people absent that day - from sick leave to bereavement leave to pre-natal leave. Really annoying... especially if you're pregnant & didn't really plan on telling anyone, but they publish "pre-natal sick leave" under your reason for being absent.
Seems like a HIPPA violation??
I'm in Australia. I guess you could take sick leave without telling anyone you're pregnant, but you get extra pregnancy specific sick leave, so I guess you gotta weigh it up.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: simonsez on November 24, 2017, 07:51:30 AM
This is my company....where they publish XXXXX time in someone's schedule without saying "what" it is for 6 months in the future for 16 weeks. It effectively announces "PREGGO!!!!" to the rest of the world (or at least all the women).
I mean, what are the alternatives?  I'd be pretty pissed if I had no clue someone I was depending on for something work-related was going to be out for a chunk of time with no warning because they wanted to hide their pregnancy.  Unless he/she or the person taking leave is a FT teleworker, most people can figure a pregnancy out ahead of time due to visual cues or at least be aware of someone being out if contingency plans are made to work with someone else for a lengthy period.

Granted, we only have an extended out-of-office schedule for our branch which is 15 people (for other branches we work with they'd either hear about it less formally or see the out-of-office email simply stating when the person is coming back).  You're either working (left blank), TW for teleworking, O for training/conferences and other off-site reasons, or L for on leave with it not drilled down to annual vs sick or anything.  People have been out a long time for surgeries, illnesses, and pregnancies.  If I see someone's schedule with a lot of L's on it moving forward and I'm not sure why they would be out (I normally know already), I don't give it a second thought other than to coordinate work-related activities if that hasn't started. 
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: GuitarStv on November 24, 2017, 08:21:06 AM
I don't get it.  Why is it so important to keep a pregnancy secret?  Isn't it going to be pretty obvious that you're pregnant when you start getting the big belly before you're off on leave?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mancityfan on November 24, 2017, 08:33:37 AM
I don't get it.  Why is it so important to keep a pregnancy secret?  Isn't it going to be pretty obvious that you're pregnant when you start getting the big belly before you're off on leave?

Not wearing my "mansplaining pants' honest.... but, I do believe many want to keep their pregnancies "secret" for quite some time. First trimester especially has a risk of miscarriage. Also, families to be notified first, may be waiting to tell a grandparent in person for example. Also, concern about job status, being passed over for promotion, favorable assignments, becoming a potential layoff candidate. Sad, but true, discrimination in the work place is real.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Nudelkopf on November 24, 2017, 02:00:42 PM
I don't get it.  Why is it so important to keep a pregnancy secret?  Isn't it going to be pretty obvious that you're pregnant when you start getting the big belly before you're off on leave?
It's very normal to not announce it until after the 1st trimester. Personally, I'd rather tell friends & family first before it gets to them through the work grapevine.

I mean, what are the alternatives?  I'd be pretty pissed if I had no clue someone I was depending on for something work-related was going to be out for a chunk of time with no warning because they wanted to hide their pregnancy. 
You're going to know they're pregnant well ahead of time. Waiting a few weeks until it's announced isn't going to screw you over too much.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: robartsd on November 30, 2017, 12:30:48 PM
By the time someone is taking multiple consecutive days off for a pregnancy (third trimester) I don't think they're trying to keep it a secret; however, if they have to take off time for a check-up that happens to be for pre-natal before they have made their pregnacy public, I can see there being an issue with letting others know that they are pregnant.

Also, concern about job status, being passed over for promotion, favorable assignments, becoming a potential layoff candidate. Sad, but true, discrimination in the work place is real.
In my state it would be difficult to discriminate based on pregancy in a layoff situation (law requires layoff be seniority based), but subtle (possibly subconscience) discrimination in promotional opportunities and assignments could easily happen (of course any discrimination would be illegal).
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Dragonswan on November 30, 2017, 01:56:37 PM
I don't get it.  Why is it so important to keep a pregnancy secret?  Isn't it going to be pretty obvious that you're pregnant when you start getting the big belly before you're off on leave?
It's very normal to not announce it until after the 1st trimester. Personally, I'd rather tell friends & family first before it gets to them through the work grapevine.

This.  I had a supervisor who wanted to wait until after the 1st trimester and then after she told her manager she intended to tell the staff.  Unfortunately for her she was a toothpick wearing a clingy dress the day I realized she was pregnant way ahead of her timeline for informing work folks.  I respected her privacy and kept my mouth shut.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Wrecks on December 02, 2017, 04:57:52 PM
I see all this talk about the "morality" of taking sick leave. Does a corporation show any evidence of "morality" when it downsizes to increase profits and lays people off who were doing a good job? When a department is eliminated and no effort is made to find those affected other jobs within the company? Does a corporation have any compunctions whatsoever about extracting maximum benefit from you at minimum cost?

Your relationship with your employer is transactional. Your goal is to extract maximum benefit from the corporation at minimum cost to you (you can consider your colleagues in that equation if you like).

They budgeted X days per year for sick leave, and that's part of your compensation package. Take it and don't feel bad about it.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: aaahhrealmarcus on December 02, 2017, 05:31:10 PM
They budgeted X days per year for sick leave, and that's part of your compensation package. Take it and don't feel bad about it.

This. Your sick leave, along with your other benefits, are part of your total compensation package. Is it ethical to receive 100% compensation for the work you do? Yes, yes it is.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: jr1029 on December 02, 2017, 08:20:00 PM
My ethical dilemma with sick leave is a bit different. We get "unlimited" up until the point where you need to go on short-term disability (6 weeks).

When I'm sick, contagious, but not too sick to do my work do I:

1. Call out, cancelling my schedule of patients who may have waited weeks to see me and overburden my coworkers?
2. Go in, wear a mask, and have everyone know I'm sick, make the patients nervous, and feel guilty about it?
3. Go in and pretend my best not be sick?

Which would you prefer from your healthcare provider?

Luckily I don't get contagious-sick very often (surprising given my line of work) but it's so hard to figure out what do to. I do draw the line at actively vomiting.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: sparkytheop on December 03, 2017, 07:28:00 PM
Our shift has to be covered 24/7.  When I started, I was worried about taking sick leave and figured I'd schedule most appointments for my days off.  A friend who had been there for years told me that I shouldn't do that, that I should schedule dr appointments on working days whenever possible for a few reasons.  First, because it would generate overtime for someone else, and we all love getting a little overtime (you can turn it down if you don't want it, and it will go to someone who does).  Second, because management had changed to rules on other situations which specifically negatively affected only our crew (since the other crews aren't there 24/7).  So, taking sick leave required management to give us the overtime they are trying so hard to prevent us from getting (that other crews still get easily for non-shift-covering reasons, to do jobs that they should be doing on straight time).  There are more reasons, but I now have no guilt taking sick leave, even if I still don't take it very often.  As I get closer to retirement, I will make sure to do any surgeries/dental work/etc to use up as many sick days as I want.  Outside of that, I'll also start calling in sick on days I just don't feel 100%.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: couponvan on December 06, 2017, 03:36:17 PM
My ethical dilemma with sick leave is a bit different. We get "unlimited" up until the point where you need to go on short-term disability (6 weeks).

When I'm sick, contagious, but not too sick to do my work do I:

1. Call out, cancelling my schedule of patients who may have waited weeks to see me and overburden my coworkers?
2. Go in, wear a mask, and have everyone know I'm sick, make the patients nervous, and feel guilty about it?
3. Go in and pretend my best not be sick?

Which would you prefer from your healthcare provider?

Luckily I don't get contagious-sick very often (surprising given my line of work) but it's so hard to figure out what do to. I do draw the line at actively vomiting.

Stay home Dr. - Please.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 on December 06, 2017, 06:32:27 PM
I don't get it.  Why is it so important to keep a pregnancy secret?  Isn't it going to be pretty obvious that you're pregnant when you start getting the big belly before you're off on leave?
It's very normal to not announce it until after the 1st trimester. Personally, I'd rather tell friends & family first before it gets to them through the work grapevine.

This.  I had a supervisor who wanted to wait until after the 1st trimester and then after she told her manager she intended to tell the staff.  Unfortunately for her she was a toothpick wearing a clingy dress the day I realized she was pregnant way ahead of her timeline for informing work folks.  I respected her privacy and kept my mouth shut.
I was 41 with #2 and wanted to wait until after the amnio results (which I didn't get until ... 18 weeks?) Luckily it was winter, so I walked around in a big fluffy sweatshirt. But still, I didn't fool everyone.  I mean, the belly pops out pretty fast with #2.  Most people just thought I was getting fat.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: mm1970 on December 06, 2017, 06:34:09 PM
My ethical dilemma with sick leave is a bit different. We get "unlimited" up until the point where you need to go on short-term disability (6 weeks).

When I'm sick, contagious, but not too sick to do my work do I:

1. Call out, cancelling my schedule of patients who may have waited weeks to see me and overburden my coworkers?
2. Go in, wear a mask, and have everyone know I'm sick, make the patients nervous, and feel guilty about it?
3. Go in and pretend my best not be sick?

Which would you prefer from your healthcare provider?

Luckily I don't get contagious-sick very often (surprising given my line of work) but it's so hard to figure out what do to. I do draw the line at actively vomiting.

#1, and hope that your place of business has a schedule that you can squeeze them in over the next couple of weeks.

Frankly, I'd be pissed at a medical provider treating me when they were contagious.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: dude on December 07, 2017, 07:28:07 AM
If taking a sick day put any hardships on my co workers I would definitely think twice before taking one.    Fortunately that's not the case. 

I've literally have "texted in sick" with my wetsuit on ready to paddle out on a beautiful California Day.....now that could be called a mental health day for sure. :)

Amen, brother!  I routinely get "Powder Fever" and "Anal Glaucoma" (I just can't see my ass coming to work today!).  All these Milquetoasts and their ethical issues with taking sick leave for "non-sick" time!  Whatever! Life is really goddamned short and then you die. All this technology in our lives was supposed to have led to a life of leisure for us humans as envisioned decades ago.  Instead, we've let The Man guilt-trip us into giving up more and more of our precious time, health and psychological well-being so He can fill more Swiss bank vaults with his truckloads of cash.  Don't be a sucker, use that shit when you see fit.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: jlcnuke on December 07, 2017, 10:36:46 AM
I get PTO, not PTO and sick leave. As such, any days out for illness just use PTO. If I'm out for an extended period (more than 5 day) then I would stop using PTO and switch to my short-term disability instead (followed by long-term if required).

If I'm out for a day, I have to work a little harder/more effective the next day or two to catch up (mind you, generally not longer days as I can catch up on my work if necessary without extra hours for most deadlines). My absence has little-to-no impact on anyone else.

When I started my current job, I'd just make up hours if I was out sick or for a doctor's appointment etc. Years later, my management decided that any unplanned absence must use PTO instead (though we could still "plan" to make up hours as long as it was done ahead of time). This was done (imo) as retaliation by a manager who was mad that I missed work multiple times due to a medical condition (generally coming in late due to that condition) and when that particular manager threatened to fire me for that I had to get HR involved, who stopped that violation of federal and state laws in it's tracks (though my advancement potential in the company went to none at that point). So, instead of coming in late and/or making up the hours, I now take the whole day off and go do whatever sounds fun after I'm feeling better (it generally only takes a few hours to get my condition back under control). They decided to force me to use PTO, so I'll use PTO and enjoy it as best I can once I can. I don't feel guilty about it at all.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: obstinate on December 10, 2017, 07:10:58 PM
All these Milquetoasts and their ethical issues
Yeah, ethics is for idiots! Morals are for morons! Doing the right thing is for rubes! Rahhhh!

Wait, this whole thread is about ethics. It's literally in the title. I don't think there's any dispute on which option is more enjoyable, convenient, fun, etc. I don't think tossing (tbf, mild) insults at people who raise ethical issues in such a thread is on the level.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: obstinate on December 10, 2017, 07:19:40 PM
They budgeted X days per year for sick leave, and that's part of your compensation package. Take it and don't feel bad about it.

This. Your sick leave, along with your other benefits, are part of your total compensation package. Is it ethical to receive 100% compensation for the work you do? Yes, yes it is.
Suppose you buy insurance with a coverage limit of X. You get in an accident and suffer Y damage. You get a quote to that effect from a repair shop. But you want more money, so you doctor the quote so it says X instead. The insurance company over-pays for the damage, and you pocket the money.

Is that ethical? After all, the insurance company budgeted up to X for accidents you're involved in.

In my personal framework, it surely would not be. They agreed to pay the amount of the damage, up to X. They did not agree to flatly pay X. Similarly, an employer who offers X days of sick leave is offering to pay you for up to X days where you cannot come in because you are sick. Not X days, flatly. Surely this distinction is obvious, considering there are other employers who offer a combined PTO and sick leave pool.

Now, you may have a different framework. A hedonistic ethical framework would just say to do whatever you can get away with, so long as you are happier. A pure utilitarian framework might look at the relative gains and losses of the parties, irrespective of the employment agreement. There are many other frameworks that I'm not even aware of, and they all probably have something slightly different to say. But one thing I'd say is that you shouldn't lie to yourself and pretend a thing is equivalent to another thing, when in fact it is different. Find some other rationalization besides self-deceit.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Flyingkea on December 11, 2017, 05:41:07 AM
I don't get it.  Why is it so important to keep a pregnancy secret?  Isn't it going to be pretty obvious that you're pregnant when you start getting the big belly before you're off on leave?
I'm in this boat right now. I am 7-8 weeks pregnant, so VERY early days, and I am avoiding telling my boss, sespite the fact he is sometimes an awesome person.
Reasons I don't want to tell yet: I am worried about being passed over - if I tell him, and then an opportunity for an upgrade comes up, I don't want to be passed over for one of the guys. I've seen it happen at my employer - the guys are seem as stable, but they are very ambitious and the industry is moving so they jump at the chance to fly the heavy metal.
I don't want to be treated differently - I don't want to be coddled, and wrapped in cotton wool. I don't want my judgement to be constantly questioned - I am a flight instructor, and part of my job is assessing students to determine whether they are ready for flight tests. It would be incredibly undermining for someone to turn around and say I didn't pass a student because pregnancy was making me bitchy.
Thirdly, it really is none of my boss's business just yet. I am taking unpaid time off due to morning all day sickness, but I have just told him I have some health issues. As a pilot, we are expected to take time off - something as simple as a blocked nose can be truely incapacitating. (As a note: I have seen an aviation doctor, and he is happy for me to fly when I feel up to it)

I have already been discriminated against for having a child - I applied to a workplace, and they openly challenged my ability to work based on the fact I had a child. Twice.


On the sick leave basis, I really don't think it matters whether your employer is public or private - the minimum rules should apply to each.
My current job, I am casual (so no sick or annual leave), but my last employer we would recieve 2 weeks sick leave per year, and 6 weeks vacation (but we didn't get public holidays). Or employer also had the clause we had to provide a medical certificate if we took more than 3 days, or took leave on a day borderring an RDO. And my former boss would actually demand that medical certificate too. It was a right PITA.
At one point they had the entire aircraft fleet grounded, so they forced us all to take paid leave if we had accrued it.
Pretty sure here sick leave is for being sick, caregiving to sick dependants, and also mental health days are included in what we can use it for.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: jr1029 on December 27, 2017, 07:11:51 AM
My ethical dilemma with sick leave is a bit different. We get "unlimited" up until the point where you need to go on short-term disability (6 weeks).

When I'm sick, contagious, but not too sick to do my work do I:

1. Call out, cancelling my schedule of patients who may have waited weeks to see me and overburden my coworkers?
2. Go in, wear a mask, and have everyone know I'm sick, make the patients nervous, and feel guilty about it?
3. Go in and pretend my best not be sick?

Which would you prefer from your healthcare provider?

Luckily I don't get contagious-sick very often (surprising given my line of work) but it's so hard to figure out what do to. I do draw the line at actively vomiting.

#1, and hope that your place of business has a schedule that you can squeeze them in over the next couple of weeks.

Frankly, I'd be pissed at a medical provider treating me when they were contagious.

So today I have a low-grade fever, sore throat, headache - and I actually called out!
Torn between feeling guilty and proud.
This is the first time I've called out for a non-surgical problem in... 2 years? 3? We shall see if the sky falls.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: dude on December 27, 2017, 11:38:58 AM
All these Milquetoasts and their ethical issues
Yeah, ethics is for idiots! Morals are for morons! Doing the right thing is for rubes! Rahhhh!

Wait, this whole thread is about ethics. It's literally in the title. I don't think there's any dispute on which option is more enjoyable, convenient, fun, etc. I don't think tossing (tbf, mild) insults at people who raise ethical issues in such a thread is on the level.

In this day and age when half the country finds no fault with the most unethical, self-serving RICO-level corrupt administration in the history of this nation, I hardly think that parsing the nuances of "sick" time (if I'm sick of working/my co-workers' bullshit/boss' incompetence/flourescent lighting, etc., etc., isn't that a "sick' day?) qualifies as an ethical issue.  Let's maybe address the plethora of real ethical shortcomings out there instead?
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: obstinate on December 29, 2017, 10:06:53 PM
All these Milquetoasts and their ethical issues
Yeah, ethics is for idiots! Morals are for morons! Doing the right thing is for rubes! Rahhhh!

Wait, this whole thread is about ethics. It's literally in the title. I don't think there's any dispute on which option is more enjoyable, convenient, fun, etc. I don't think tossing (tbf, mild) insults at people who raise ethical issues in such a thread is on the level.

In this day and age when half the country finds no fault with the most unethical, self-serving RICO-level corrupt administration in the history of this nation, I hardly think that parsing the nuances of "sick" time (if I'm sick of working/my co-workers' bullshit/boss' incompetence/flourescent lighting, etc., etc., isn't that a "sick' day?) qualifies as an ethical issue.  Let's maybe address the plethora of real ethical shortcomings out there instead?
Surely you did not just make the argument that we can do whatever we want because Trump is a bad man. Surely you didn't.
Title: Re: The Ethics of Taking Sick Leave
Post by: Wrecks on December 31, 2017, 04:26:39 PM
They budgeted X days per year for sick leave, and that's part of your compensation package. Take it and don't feel bad about it.

This. Your sick leave, along with your other benefits, are part of your total compensation package. Is it ethical to receive 100% compensation for the work you do? Yes, yes it is.
Suppose you buy insurance with a coverage limit of X. You get in an accident and suffer Y damage. You get a quote to that effect from a repair shop. But you want more money, so you doctor the quote so it says X instead. The insurance company over-pays for the damage, and you pocket the money.

Is that ethical? After all, the insurance company budgeted up to X for accidents you're involved in.

In my personal framework, it surely would not be. They agreed to pay the amount of the damage, up to X. They did not agree to flatly pay X. Similarly, an employer who offers X days of sick leave is offering to pay you for up to X days where you cannot come in because you are sick. Not X days, flatly. Surely this distinction is obvious, considering there are other employers who offer a combined PTO and sick leave pool.

Now, you may have a different framework. A hedonistic ethical framework would just say to do whatever you can get away with, so long as you are happier. A pure utilitarian framework might look at the relative gains and losses of the parties, irrespective of the employment agreement. There are many other frameworks that I'm not even aware of, and they all probably have something slightly different to say. But one thing I'd say is that you shouldn't lie to yourself and pretend a thing is equivalent to another thing, when in fact it is different. Find some other rationalization besides self-deceit.

Surely you realize that the sick days are coming out of your pay.

Yes, I strongly believe that the employer/employee relationship should be viewed from a strictly utilitarian perspective.* The vast majority of companies view their employees as cost centers and have no problem optimizing their cost/benefit, whether by laying off some and forcing others to work more, or ensuring that they get the most work for the least pay. No ethics involved.

People tend to hamstring themselves with ethics and loyalty when dealing with their employer when no such reciprocal "feelings" exist, and then they're shocked when they're 55 years and out on their ass because they were deemed too expensive.

*Note that I am a self-employed consultant, and I've only had 1 white collar job, and that was for only 6 months after grad school. So I'm viewing this from the outside in.