I saw an article on CNN today about people who go to work sick and spread their bug around to their officemates. Different people interviewed admitted that they felt they'd be "punished" if they took a sick day.
I know the feeling. When I worked at the university, my benefits included 12 sick days and 24 vacation days a year. Now, it was broken down that I accumulated 1 sick, 2 vacation days each month, so say I used everything up by the middle of October, I knew that come November, I'd have new days coming. The sick time could be accured forever, but you could only hold a balance of 30 vacation days. When I left that job, I had over 100 sick days in the bank, none of which would be reimbursed to me like vacation.
And still, I went to work when I had the sniffles or felt kind of crummy. Why? Because it was universally known within the system that if you looked for a new job internally, one of the first things they looked at if you made the initial interview cut was your sick time. They didn't care if you used vacation. They did care if you used your sick time. If you used too much -- and no one ever deemed what that was -- it was a strike against you. Even if you weren't looking for another job, it was brought up in performance reviews. There was one year I had a lot of dental work done, and to save me stress, the dentist did mini-marathon sessions on a Friday morning, and that was all she wrote for me for the rest of the weekend. Jammed in there was also some major dental surgery that took out a week of my life. I used all my sick days for that year. My direct supervisor knew why, of course, but hers did not. And when he wrote back with my raise, it came with a note "concerned about heavy amount of sick time used this year."
Nowadays, it's tough for me to be sick because I have no one to pick up my slack and it seems like every day comes with a new deadline. Of course, I don't get sick as often because it's just me and the dog in the office all day. At my evening activities, people are more likely to stay home if they feel yucky. But if I need to sleep in or take a nap or do a minimal amount of work while wrapped up in my pajamas and a warm blanket, who is going to know? And if I happen to sneeze while I'm writing, well, I'm pretty sure that kind of virus hasn't figured out how to spread through cyberspace.