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Flu? What to do if your boss doesn't believe you

Posted by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:38 AM
  • 25 Replies


Flu? What to do if your boss doesn't believe you

(MoneyWatch) "My boss doesn't believe I had the flu, and that was the reason I missed a week of work. What should I do?"

A reader sent me this question last week, and it occurred to me that during this already record-breaking flu season this issue is going to come up in offices across the country. So I asked career expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine, partner with the SixFigureStart career consulting firm in New York for her advice. Although the answer will certainly depend on your particular relationship with your boss, here are some things she says to consider.

Know your office guidelines for illness. If your office only asks for your honesty, great. "But there are many workplaces where absence over consecutive days requires a doctor's note," notes Ceniza-Levine. Try not to take it personally. "There are good reasons for employers to require medical documentation of prolonged absence. They need to set standards for all to follow so as not to appear as if they are treating some people preferentially over others," she says. Some doctors may write a note after documenting a phone call with you, but most will need to see you.

Share your perspective. If your boss is aggravated by your sick days, he or she may simply be irritated with a string of unexplained absences in your group. If you can't document your illness (and you don't look particularly ill once you're back), you'll want to share why you didn't push yourself to come in. "Gently remind him or her that you didn't want to infect others and have the group fall further behind. There are ways to make a strong case that don't require you making your boss feel bad and putting him or her on the defensive," Ceniza-Levine says.

Come back with a catch-up plan. Your boss wants your work to get done, so on your first day back explain how you'll get back on track, Ceniza-Levine says. Ask for an update on things that have come up while you were out, summaries of meetings you missed and about any concerns they might have -- and address them.

If you follow company protocol, show your reasoning and minimize any interruption to the flow of work but your boss is still giving you a hard time, you may have to speak to HR and try to move to a different team. You might even need to start looking for a new job.

"Yes, you need to take care of your health, and in an ideal world employers would wholeheartedly support this, but that may not always be true. You need to decide how you want to respond in that event," Ceniza-Levine says.

Has your boss ever held a sick day against you? Please sign in and share in the comments section.

by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:38 AM
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by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 7:47 AM

if you have the flu, you have a doctors note... everyone now a days has a smart phone.. what i did was get a note from my Dr and took a photo of the flu test.  easy peasy...  i didnt need it, because i dont work, but i was so out of it and loopy it made me laugh...

by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 8:41 AM

 I agree you just need to get a Dr's note. Even if they still don't believe you they can't fire you or write you up for missing work with a Dr's note. I do want to mention, though. I read in the Reader's Digest once that 70% of the time when an employee calls in sick to work, they're lying, so I can understand a boss maybe not believing every claim of illness, especially if they hear it so much that they know it can't possibly be true EVERY time. I've worked in several places where people were CONSTANTLY calling off sick, and it drove me nuts, because I'm a stickler about coming into work if it's at all possible. My rule is if I have a fever of over 102 or I'm vomiting I stay home, otherwise no, and I NEVER call in when I'm not sick and just want a 'mental health day".  Once, I had a BAD case of the flu, did have a big fever, could barely even drag myself out of bed even to pee, and I called in. Well, three other lazybones who probably weren't sick at all had already called in sick and my boss told me I had to come in anyway or else he'd have to close the shop for the day, (unthinkable!). It was a REALLY busy day, too, and since almost everyone had called in sick, it was just two of us, plus the one co worker who was there was being really rude and unsympathetic to me all day because she was mad that I had tried to call in like everyone else that day.

by Anonymous 1 on Jan. 10, 2013 at 8:42 AM
Because many don't really have it. They say they had it but they don't. My dd was sick for 2 weeks but did not have a fever. She didn't have the flu but had all the other symptoms. She went to work every day.
by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 8:43 AM

Doctors note

by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 9:30 AM

there is a test to prove its the flu, I know because I just tested positive 2 weeks ago and was in fact put off work by the dr. for the remainder of the week- with a note from the dr. to my employer

if you had the flu, you should have saw a dr. if you didnt you risk loosing your job - if your sick enough to miss a week of work, have enough sense to go to the dr. and get a note or lose your job

by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Get a note from your doctor.. if you have that, they can't allow you to work due to liability. If you didn't get a note, you're dumb, sorry to put it so bluntly.

by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Not everyone runs to the Doctor. 

I had two kids get the flu in 2009; so when I got sick two days later I saved my $25 and time. 

by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 12:44 PM

you get a doctors note and there is NO question!

by Anonymous 2 on Jan. 10, 2013 at 12:50 PM
3 moms liked this
What if you can't afford to go to the Dr.? Not everyone has insurance or can afford the walk in clinic. Going to the Dr for the flu is like going for the common cold. I don't have $80. for them to tell me to rest & drink plenty of fluids.
by on Jan. 10, 2013 at 1:02 PM
1 mom liked this

Not everyone can go to the doctor. That is crazy. I would stop by and give my boss a big ol hug! Lol, but seriously, I'd go by so they could see how nasty I looked. I sounded horrible when I had the flu. You could tell on the phone!

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