Flowchart promotes a healthy sick leave policy

March 26, 2018, MIT Sloan School of Management
Credit: Mimi Phan

If the record-breaking 2017-18 flu season taught corporate America anything, it's that a fever doesn't discriminate against paygrade. And with allergy season gearing up, and summer colds just on the horizon, it's a good time to remember the importance of sick leave policies.

"Sick days should be looked at like ," said MIT Sloan professor of management Lotte Bailyn. "We don't resent it when we're well and only sick people get the benefits of the insurance. That's the same with sick days: you're putting a bet on being well, but have help if you're not, and there should be no resentment either way."

Bailyn said should lead by example and stay home when they're under the weather. They should learn to trust subordinates to serve in their absence—a chain of command a manager should already be working to establish.

Sick day policies should be open and not require too many permissions, Bailyn said. If there's worry about cheating the system, it's the assumption that's the problem, not the policy.

"If the expectation is that workers enjoy their work and their (which is the responsibility of the manager to create) then they won't cheat, and if they need a day without being sick the atmosphere should be good enough that they can just do that and make up the work in other ways," Bailyn said. "Managers should assume that people will be out, they do get sick, and they should help work groups organize their work in such a way that … the work gets done even when one or more people are absent."

Here's a flowchart to keep on hand (don't forget to wash them!) for those days when you're not sure whether to stay in bed or head to the office. The simple answer: If you're sick, stay home.

Explore further: Timely tips for sick-free travel

Related Stories

Timely tips for sick-free travel

March 9, 2018
(HealthDay)—If traveling is in your near future, there are a number of things you can do to keep from getting sick and spoiling your trip.

Number of paid sick days directly impacts how Americans use preventive care like flu shots

March 5, 2018
How much is enough? That is what researchers from Florida Atlantic University and Cleveland State University wanted to find out in the first study to measure the link between an employee's number of paid sick leave days and ...

Two percent of US employees go to work each week despite being sick

March 7, 2016
Each week, up to three million US employees go to work sick, with roughly half of these incidents due to a lack of paid leave coverage. The findings come from an analysis of information from the 2011 Leave Supplement of the ...

A change of job could help people on long-term sick leave

April 26, 2016
A change of job could be a means of prolonging labour market participation for people on long-term sick leave, according to a thesis by Karin Nordström at Karolinska Institutet. The thesis also looks at differences in sick ...

Recommended for you

Closing coal, oil power plants leads to healthier babies

May 22, 2018
Shuttering coal- and oil-fired power plants lowers the rate of preterm births in neighboring communities and improves fertility, according to two new University of California, Berkeley, studies.

More frequent checks control MRSA in newborns, but can hospitals afford them?

May 22, 2018
The more often a hospital can check its newborns for deadly MRSA germs, the more likely it will be that they are contained, according to a new study.

Could we predict the next Ebola outbreak by tracking the migratory patterns of bats?

May 22, 2018
Javier Buceta, associate professor of bioengineering, Paolo Bocchini, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, and postdoctoral student Graziano Fiorillo of Lehigh University have created a modeling framework ...

Insufficient sleep, even without extended wakefulness, leads to performance impairments

May 21, 2018
Millions of individuals obtain insufficient sleep on a daily basis, which can lead to impaired performance and other adverse physiological outcomes. To what extent these impairments are caused by the short sleep duration ...

Helping preterm infants grow bigger kidneys would prevent kidney disease later in life

May 21, 2018
Nephrons are the microscopic blood-filtering units inside our kidneys that convert waste products into urine, regulate our electrolyte levels and our blood pressure.

Avoiding the car for travel could significantly lower risk of illness and death

May 21, 2018
People who are more active when commuting to work by walking or cycling could be cutting their relative risk of developing ischaemic heart disease or stroke by 11% and their relative risk of dying from these diseases by 30%, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.