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    "Didn't Realize I Could Get In Trouble For Being Sick": This Person's Boss Is Punishing Them For Taking Legitimate Sick Days

    "Didn’t realize I could get in trouble for being SICK and following expectations for calling in when sick."

    The thing about sick days is, you can't really plan when they're going to happen. It's not as if my body is going to send me a notification like, "Time to schedule your migraines for this quarter" (although that would be pretty convenient, not gonna lie). Well, according to one Reddit user, their boss apparently has no idea how any of this works and wrote a ridiculous policy to prove it.

    Reddit user u/limareg posted a screenshot of a text conversation with their boss in which they were told that taking the day off to care for their sick child would be counted as an unexcused absence because it wasn't planned in advance.

    Text message screenshot of boss saying that taking a sick child to the doctor is an unexcused absence, and more than five results in "disciplinary action"

    In a comment, the user wrote, "There’s been so much sickness going around, and my daughter and I have gotten sick a good few times. Obviously I call out so we can rest at home, get better, and not get anyone else sick. But now for that, I’m close to disciplinary action. Honestly kind of pissed off. I work at a hospital, deal with insurance. This is when I let my boss know I wouldn’t be in 'cause my daughter is sick. Didn’t realize I could get in trouble for being SICK and following expectations for calling in when sick."

    These kinds of "no-fault attendance policies," which assign points to actions like tardiness, leaving early, and sick days, are fairly common. These policies are intended to reduce favoritism by treating every employee absence the same, but they can also lead to employees effectively being punished for being human beings, getting sick, having family emergencies, and so on. In some situations, enforcement of these policies can violate the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, and other worker protections. In fact, New York state recently passed a law prohibiting employers from disciplining workers for legally protected absences.

    Unoccupied office cubicle

    The Reddit post quickly stirred up a ton of conversation, with over 1,000 comments from people weighing in on the situation.

    Some people were quick to point out how absolutely wild the wording of this particular policy is.

    Book titled "HR Policies" on a desk

    Like, what exactly are workers supposed to do to excuse themselves when they're not well???

    “Can you reschedule your flu until next week? We have a big project this week and we need you here.”


    "Sorry, I'll let you know ahead of time when I plan to get sick next. Do you know any real psychics so I can find out when that'll be?"


    It's understandable that businesses would want to limit paid sick days, but to effectively penalize people for getting sick — especially right now, during a COVID surge — is a really bad look. I'd be polishing my résumé.

    Woman on the couch with a cup of tea and a box of tissues on a sick day

    Plus, treating an absence as unexcused, even for someone who calls out with a doctor's note, could unintentionally lead to more no-call no-shows.

    "So there’s no real reason to call in to begin with? It sounds like you get in the same amount of trouble for what anyone reasonable would consider an excused absence as you would for taking off to go to Six Flags or whatever."


    And don't get me started on how these types of policies discriminate against people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

    Notepad with "Americans With Disabilities Act" on it

    Ultimately, as human beings, we just get sick sometimes, and it's not really something we can control. As this commenter says, we're not machines.

    "I am so sick of being constrained by rules that make me feel like a child. Point systems for absences are awful and should be abolished. We are not machines."


    Elsewhere in the thread, people shared the similarly ridiculous ways their employers handle sick time:

    Don't get me started on how dangerous it can be to insist that people come in to work sick, especially in healthcare.

    "When I worked in healthcare, my managers tried to pull this. I was in cardiology — most of my patients were elderly, with multiple conditions. I asked them if they really wanted me to infect those patients. The docs I worked for ended up stepping in, and I never heard about calling out again."


    Not to mention how this kind of bad boss behavior affects parents in particular, especially in the COVID era.

    Person holding a positive COVID test

    And this person's story about getting disciplined for missing work after getting injured at work has my blood boiling.

    "I’m on stage 2 disciplinary at my work for having time off sick because of a dislocated shoulder (which was an accident at work), a bout of the flu, and a problem where my entire face and neck were swollen. How dare I be too unwell to work? And what takes the piss more, I was asked at my stage 1 disciplinary if I 'can guarantee that these things won’t happen again.' No, I fucking can’t."


    Plus, these kinds of attendance policies can actively encourage folks to come in to work sick and infect the whole team.

    Coworkers side-eyeing a woman blowing her nose in the office

    One person who actually knew in advance they wouldn't be well was told that they couldn't schedule a sick day.

    "I’ve put in sick time in advance for planned illness (I'm immune compromised and was getting like six shots in one appointment), and my boss was actually upset by that, LMAO.

    "'You need to use your vacation pool for this'…but I’ll be sick? I can get a doctor's note. 'Planned absence is a vacation; sick time is when you’re actually sick.' Okay, well, cancel the request then. I was just trying to give you advance notice so you could staff ahead, but I guess I’ll surprise you and call in sick."


    You should be allowed to go to the hospital for a life-threatening condition without worrying about losing your job.

    Woman sitting on a bed in the hospital

    And finally, there's this absolute red flag of a job interview question:

    "I was once asked in an interview how many sick days did I think was an appropriate amount for an employee to have/use in a year. I think I melted his brain when I said as many as were needed."


    Has something like this ever happened to you? Let's talk about it in the comments.

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.