This Is How Sick You Have to Be to Take the Day Off

Also, here’s how to tell if you’re contagion-free — and therefore, good to return to work.


It’s flu season, and you know what that means: You finally have an excuse to take a few sick days. But how sick do you have to be to stay home? And how well do you have to be before returning to work? Primary care physician Dr. Marc Leavey broke it down (with the sickness) for us.

According to Leavey, these three symptoms entitle you to the day off:

  • Fever: Fevers are signs that you could be contagious, so for the sake of your coworkers, stay home if your temperature is above 100.4 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Leakage: Coughing, sneezing and oozing are all quick ways to circulate your germs around the office, which means they warrant a day spent in bed.
  • Tiredness: You’re better off staying home if you can’t think straight, you’re sleepy or you’ve lost your voice — basically, anything that gets in the way of work.

If you’re itching to get back to work after a few days of bedrest, Leavey explains how to be sure you’re no longer contagious: “Your temperature should be normal (98.6 degrees fahrenheit) without antipyretics — aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen — for 24 hours before going back to work.” It’s also important that you’re not sneezing and coughing.

Now get your butt back to work!