Sick leave etiquette​

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COVID-19 rules if you feel sick​


Sick leave entitlements

No one is completely immune to illness. There are times when you will get sick. If you have never worked five days a week or in an office before you may end up catching everything that is going around.​

Different workplaces offer different sick leave arrangements. Your sick leave entitlements will also depend on whether you are a casual worker or a full-time employee. Some employers want a doctor’s certificate if you have a Monday off.​

Your employer should give you information on the conditions of your employment, including sick leave. ​

If you are unsure, you should always check with your manager. ​

Tips to avoid getting sick

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get plenty of sleep. Being well rested, eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated are a great defense to avoid getting sick. ​
  • Taking vitamin C or immunity tablets during the flu season may help as well.​
  • Staying up all night gaming or watching TV can compromise your immunity.

Some symptoms where you may be able to go to work

  • Mild headaches that can be treated with paracetamol​
  • Hayfever symptoms​
  • General tiredness from staying up too late.​

Remember: ​

Your mental health needs to be taken care of and you should practice self care. If you need to take some time off you should consult with your doctor and let your manager know.

How to avoid getting sick

  • Avoid close contact with others. If others in your team are sick avoid being in close contact with them, wash your hands regularly and use disinfectant gel. If it is ok with your colleagues use disinfectant sprays like Glen20 to kill airborne germs.​
  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.​
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often, especially after visiting the bathroom.

Steps to take to avoid spreading germs

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze and then safely dispose of the tissue and use hand sanitizer.​
  • Avoid close interactions with co-workers. You should not shake hands with people.​
  • Wash and dry hands well​
  • Regularly use hand sanitizer​
  • Maintain social distancing​
  • Wear face masks

When should you stay at home

If you have vomiting and/or diarrhoea (from an illness as opposed to from food intolerance) you should always stay at home for 24 hours after last episode of vomiting or diarrhoea.​

If you are contagious (your employer will not want you spreading your illness with other colleagues)​

When you are not fit to do your work tasks – for example if you use machinery and you will be a safety risk​

It is important to try and understand your body signs and if in doubt seek advice from your doctor and talk to your manager. 

Process for calling in sick

  • Make sure you understand your workplace’s procedure for calling in sick.​
  • When you start a job you should enter the phone number for your manager into your phone so that you have it when you need to contact them.​
  • Notify your immediate supervisors and managers via phone BEFORE your scheduled start time.​
  • Try to give your employer sufficient notice. Try to make the decision to call in sick as early as possible as work may need to be re-allocated.
  • Always notify the people you work with daily, unless you have already advised that you will be away in advance. For example, when you have a doctor’s certificate stating that you will be unable to work for 3 days OR if you know in advance that you have medical appointments to attend.​
  • Communicate your list of urgent to-dos. This will enable your colleagues to attend to anything that needs immediate attention while you are away.​
  • Use the time off to rest and recover. Don’t spend your sick day(s) worrying about work. Allow your body to recover and get well as quickly as possible.​
  • Usual workplace procedure is to get a doctor’s certificate each time you are away for 2 or more working days. If in doubt, ask your manager.

End of Module Questions

  • If you notice that you are starting to feel unwell, what are the appropriate steps to take to manage this?​
  • Why is it important to advise your manager that you will not be coming to work before your scheduled start time?

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