I skimmed through this morning's Post Dispatch this afternoon while nuking my lunch. Normally I skip right to the comics, or at least the business section, but I was feeling brave and started browsing other sections. I came across the following column, by Bill McClellan, wherein he expresses surprise and annoyance/frustration/exasperation? that people take sick days when they're--gasp!--not actually sick.
At least he was bright enough to not complain that folks were taking sick days to care for their kids. I think, in this century, that actually expressing that opinion outloud would immediately label you as a caveman and get you written up for sexual descrimination awareness training. I hope it does.
But seriously, to expect that employees are entitled to, as part of their compensation package, a number of days every year of paid days off, and not expect them to take them, or to be able to bank them against a future catastrophic illness (like maternity leave, LOL), is just silly. To me at least.
Mr. McLellan points out that folks who are self-employed or work hourly jobs frequently do not have the benefit of sick days, and will likely fail to earn money when they are sick. Agreed. Ideally, those people will take that into account when deciding on those career paths. You can't expect to work 100% of all "work hours" in a year. Stuff happens. Plan for it. Besides, if you're working for yourself, you usually get to set your own hours right?
Granted, most of my sick days (that are not spent with a sick child) are what I consider "mental health" days. Without the occaisional unplanned day off from work, I might end up doing something drastic. Nothing involving firearms, mind you. Arriving in my pajamas, singing the Smurfs theme song at the top of my lungs and dancing the Macarena on top of the conference room table, possibly. Some days I just need OUT (if it requires a padded cell and nice-young-men-in-their-clean-white-coats, sobeit).
Personally, I hate sick time. I would much rather that companies would give us a bucket of "paid time off" and not quibble sick vs vacation. Heck, for a working mom, being sick is sometimes a vacation. 8 hours at home with no children underfoot? You mean I can watch non-musical live-action TV during the daylight? Or nap? Bring on the flu, baby.
At two of my (former) employers, I got my wish. Paid Time Off. No faking a cough (or emailing your manager so that he can't hear how happy you are to be skipping work for the day). For longer times, you'd have to request your time in advance. But for one day, just call in. Everyone was responsible enough (normally) to cover their responsibilities.
At my current job, I have sick time and vacation time and separate policies as to how each is accrued and how much carries over upon which day of the year. But then, in my group, people frequently "wake up on vacation" or call in with a "sick car". For me, well, let's just say I've been known to convalesce in a movie theater. I was actually sick that day though...