Let’s Normalize Taking Advantage Of All Our Sick Days And Vacation Days

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Photo Credit:Scary Mommy

We keep kids home from school when they’re sick. So why short-change ourselves?

California
became only the second state in the United States to require paid sick leave for employees. This is something that needs to change too; sometimes, those struggling financially have no choice but to come in to work ill if staying at home means missing a day’s pay. According to the Department of Labor,
there is no federal mandate
for employers to have a paid sick leave. I hope employers take the opportunity and lessons learned from living through a pandemic to understand that paid sick days should not have to be something employees must fight for. But that’s for another article.
So why is it exactly that we have such a hard time with using our time off? Is it because traditionally, we feel a pressure to check in with our bosses? Or is it because we feel like we need to lay all our shit bare to our boss in order to
prove
we are actually sick? Why does any of that matter? Yes, it’s important to be honest and say that you’re sick when you’re sick and when you’re going out of town use a vacation or personal day — your call. But time off is built into every job, and if we don’t use it, we are only missing out on the benefits available to us.

When we are sick, we need to take a sick day. We’d keep our kids home from school if they were sick, right? Why do we short-change ourselves?
For now, all we can do is normalize using our time off. If your employer makes you feel guilty for taking a sick day or pressures you to check on a work project or check your never ending email — it’s up to you to put your foot down. It’s up to you to educate your boss, or perhaps even human resources, that your sick day means you are 100% off the clock and taking care of yourself, whether physically or mentally. Sure, you may have fear about being the one to lead the way in this discussion, but if you don’t, who will?
Is this the work culture we want to perpetuate — the kind in which we just let our allotted days off go unused? It’s up to us to take and use our sick days and vacation days for what they are meant for. Remember to put yourself first; your employer will prioritize their needs, and you should too.

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