Afraid to Call in Sick to Work?

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“If you drop down, they will just put out an ad for a vacancy.” I was reminded of this harsh reality, a few weeks ago.

If you’re a workaholic, like me, you try your best to make yourself indispensable to your employer, sometimes at the risk of your health. You work feverishly to meet deadlines, and try your best to be on top of your game. Sacrificing your health for the sake of keeping your job is senseless, though. But, a few weeks ago, I didn’t hold this view.

I didn’t listen to my body, when it was telling me to stop pushing it too far.

During the first week of my new job, I was determined to make myself totally indispensable to management. I wanted to be the most productive workaholic in the company. I also have the added pressure of being on probation. Of course, I always knew that my health was more important than any job, but I didn’t listen to my body, when it was telling me to stop pushing it too far.

Some time in March, intense back pain crept up on me. But I was still showing up to work, smiling through the pain, and carrying out my duties. I’m not entitled to any type of leave, while on probation, so I was afraid to call in sick. I was determined to maintain my efficiency. I want so much to get the contract, after my probation.

I went to a few doctors, even to the hospital, but no one could pinpoint the cause of these intense back pains. They only assumed what the problem could be. But after a few tests, and various painkillers later, I started thinking that the problem could very well be that I was sitting for prolonged periods at my desk. But if most of your work involves sitting at a computer, what yuh supposed to do?

“If you drop down, they will just put out an ad for a vacancy.”

When I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I knew I had to call in sick. But I was worried about working back my days. I broke down in tears (yes…tears) in front of one of my senior co-workers, one day. Thankfully, she talked some sense into me…for almost an hour…and reminded me, “If you drop down, they will just put out an ad for a vacancy.”

She told me to take care of myself, and urged me not to come to work, if I wasn’t well, because it would set a bad precedent for me, and my employer would expect me to show up to work, if I should ever get sick again in the future. This made sense.

By now, you’re probably saying, “Wham to dis gyul boy? If it was me, I was going home!” Well you know what, after the talk with my co-worker, I left work. The following day, I went to the doctor, and readily accepted the sick leave he recommended. If a doctor said that I needed to rest, I needed to rest. Plus, I could put my mind at ease, and not feel guilty about being absent from work.

I know I may come across as being all goody two shoes, but I love my job and I’m still in the early stages of my career.

Wondering if they might think you’re faking it?

Don’t you feel the pressure to always show up to work too? To always be seen as efficient? To always have to be able to run at full speed? What about wondering about what your bosses will do or say? Wondering if they might think you’re faking it?

Bosses aren’t monsters (okay…some are). But how is it that some employees have an ingrained fear of calling in sick to work?

Maybe it’s because some employees set a bad precedent. You know…the ones who lie and say they’re sick, and end up on Maracas Beach, eating bake and shark. I actually heard about someone who gave that lie, and who could he see, while at the beach? Yup…his boss. And he was barebacked, in shorts, and playing football. I don’t know how he got out of that one. His co-workers were probably really cautious about calling in sick after that. And it just goes to show you that, sometimes, bosses are right to be suspicious.

Then there are the potential Oscar-winning actors who go to work the next day, coughing loudly, as you pass your boss, to convince people that “ah was really sick yuh know!” Raise your hand if you’re guilty of this. Any of you hiding yuh face yet?

A goody two shoes like me isn’t good at the theatrics, so I can’t try that. But I have learnt my lesson, and won’t be giving you any more stories about foolishly trying to push myself, and crying because I don’t want to take a sick day.

As my fellow Outlisher, Kevin, says, “Like good sheep, many of us never bother to question or challenge whether always being on the go is, one, good for us, or two, makes us any more efficient at what we’re doing. What’s the point of killing yuhself?” And he’s right.

You shouldn’t ‘beat up’ over being absent from work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to stay home every time you get sick, with a little cough or something, but if you wake up one morning, and get the feeling that you’re too sick to make it through the work day (and you will get that feeling), keep yuh tail in bed or take the time to go to a doctor. And remember to do the courteous thing by calling in sick to work, or have someone else do it for you, perhaps a parent or spouse.

I’m now starting to accept that it’s okay to get sick sometimes, but it’s also important to recover, and then return to work. The work won’t get done in your absence, but when you return, just reassure your boss that you will get the work done. That way, you can better focus on picking up where you left off.


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Stephanie Singh

A student of literature and life, Stephanie Singh has taken up writing to express her random musings about almost anything. She gets a good laugh out of puns, ironies and witticisms. While she loves teaching English Language and Literature, she hopes to land her 'dream job', as a copywriter or published author.


  1. Simz

    May 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I had this EXACT same prob last week. On probation. Was battling it out with a flu. Ended up leaving work early Thursday & Friday because headache and fever eventually won. And the devoted workaholic in me was feeling a little guilty about it too but glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way about calling in sick.

  2. Kevin Campbell


    May 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    You did a VERY good job developing this Steph! Great work :)

  3. TriniChow

    May 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Love the part about “say they’re sick, and end up on Maracas Beach, eating bake and shark.”

  4. Taran Rampersad

    May 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Something a Master Chief in the Navy told me: ‘Those that do, do more. Those that don’t do, don’t do.’ The trouble with a strong work ethic is that you can overdo it. But I’ve also been in positions where the bills had to be paid (they still do) and I had to suffer. In those instances, employers should be growing brains: If I go in sick and I get others sick, the productivity goes down. It’s in an employer’s best interest to send home people who are ill. But then, how many employers actually think at that level?

  5. Stephanie Singh


    May 15, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Thanks for the feedback.

  6. Benson Jhene

    May 17, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Not a friggin tall nah thats one thing i ent playing nah cause cant play hero all day and work for good name at the end of the day ur health and well being is what matters most!

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  8. Nightangel

    May 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    My policy is to be honest. If you’re sick I have no problems with you taking the day…I’ve even sent home workers who were sick because its best they rest and come back able to work than be in work get everyone sick and no one able to work. However I have zero tolerance for nonsense. If you need a day for something personal by all means take it (within reason) but do not pretend to be sick. Do not lie on your family (my daddy had a stroke…yes workers have said that to get days and then you realize nothing is wrong with the family) .
    And most employers (sadly not all) recognizes a good worker and would willingly let them have the days if they are sick.

  9. Akilah

    May 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    That’s funny. I got sick on probation the other day. And I did the same foolish thing, I went to work. In my case though, I managed to “wing” it. Feeling like I’m still in recovery though. But you’re right, sometimes you just have to let it go.

  10. Alexandre

    December 23, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Many many quiltay points there.

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