How Sick Is Too Sick for a Sick Leave? 

October 17, 2023

The dreaded season of the year is already here. The weather is getting colder, the flu outbreak is common and you might start seeing a lot of your colleagues and loved ones experiencing sneezing, coughs and all those flu symptoms that make you want to disinfect your workspace every second. Or you might be unfortunate enough to have contracted the flu already and now you’re wondering, should I take a sick day leave or just soldier on? 

Just like many employees who tend to hesitate and feel guilty for calling in sick,  you might also be wondering, ” Which sickness is considered too sick and deserving of a sick leave?”  Some have even come around to believe that extreme physical pain is the only good reason permitted in order to get a sick leave. However, this is not true as there are many valid reasons for calling in sick from work, you just have to contact your HR department to get a clarification regarding your organization’s sick leave policy. Sick leave is normal and is always expected especially during this flu season when employees can transmit the infection to their colleagues who work in the same office. 

In this article, we will explore various issues surrounding taking a day off from work due to health reasons. So let’s dive into the meaning behind sick leave, common reasons for calling in sick, sick leave entitlements and many other commonly asked questions about this issue. 


What is the definition of sick leave? 

What are the common reasons for calling in sick? 

What are sick leave entitlements? 

How to ask for a sick day’s leave


What Is the Definition of a Sick Leave?


What is sick leave? 

A day or period off from work that is given to an employee due to an illness or injury is commonly known as a sick leave or a sick day off. This term might also be used to define the duration per year for which a business agrees to pay its ill workers. Since this type of leave is different from annual leave and the other types of leave; its duration, procedure of taking a sick leave and whether it is paid or unpaid depends on your company’s policy specifically for managing sick leave. For instance, some organizations may set up a doctor’s note as the only verification needed before taking a day off whereas others may require employees to give their word only. 

There are different types of sick leave, which mostly depend on the number of days the employee spends away while sick. 

Short-Term and Long-Term Sick Days

A time away from work for ill health that lasts less than seven days is commonly classed as a short-term leave while a leave for an illness or injury that takes more than seven days is considered a long-term leave. A short-term sick leave may also be termed as a self-certified employees’s are not normally required to show any proof of their illness. Long-term sick leave on the other hand requires employees to provide a fit note from a medical professional as such it can also be referred to as a Doctor’s note sick leave. 

Paid and Unpaid Sick Leave

Some federal laws have set standards that govern employers to pay employees if their sick leave meets the set criteria and these differ from state to state. Under paid sick leave, employees are allowed to take a paid, specified number of days away from the office due to health reasons whereas, under unpaid sick leave, employees are allowed to take as much time as their health requires away from work without expecting payment from the employers. Unpaid time off is usually used for longer absences from work. 

What Are the Common Reasons for Calling in Sick? 


Reasons for taking time away from work 

It is important to take a sick day to avoid hindering your work performance, worsening the health problem or possibly infecting others. Depending on your country’s Labour laws and company policy,  there is usually a specified amount of sick days allowed for each employee every year and your employers may also be legally bound to offer sick leave benefits.  Make it a habit to study your company’s sick leave policy to understand the types of leaves they permit, duration and reasons for taking a sick leave. 

Some of the common valid excuses for requiring a sick day include:

  • Having contagious symptoms, an illness or injury that affects your productivity at work.
  • Going for a scheduled checkup or medical procedure and additional time for recuperating afterwards. 
  • A medical emergency for you or your loved ones. 
  • Taking a medical health day off for grieving, dealing with panic attacks and other mental health issues. 

What Are Sick Leave Entitlements? 


Sick leave benefits 

This includes the rights and all the benefits that are given to employees when they need a leave away from the office due to a sickness or injury. Depending on each company’s sick leave policy, some of the benefits entitled to employees on a sick day include:

  • A paid leave of a specific duration per year. 
  • The right to return to the same job after completing sick leave. 
  • Being able to carry over their sick leave balance to the next year. 
  • Getting paid according to the Statutory sick pay if you meet the criteria.

How to Ask for a Sick Day Leave


How to request a sick day off

Refer to your employer’s updated sick leave policy to know about the appropriate procedure to follow when taking a sick day off. Below are some of the important information you should include in your sick leave request. A general reason for requesting a sick leave. 

  • An approximation of the duration of your leave. 
  • Let them whether you’ll be available to answer any work-related inquiries in your absence. 
  • Update them on your pending projects and any other deadlines you might have. 
  • Make sure to attach a doctor’s note if applicable. 


How do I request a sick leave? 

You can send your request through an email, call or even leave management platforms provided by your employers. 

Can I take a sick leave even when I’m not sick? 

Sick leave is mainly meant to be used on short notice when you have family emergencies, injuries or health issues to deal with. However, some companies may allow employees who have unused sick days to use them for any other reasons. 

Taking time away from the office to take care of your health should not make you feel guilty and stressed. Work will always be there, but you won’t be of any help if you force yourself to work even though your body is overwhelmed. Therefore, make sure to follow your company’s set procedure and contact the appropriate personnel at your workplace whenever you need to take a sick day.