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You don’t need to be housebound if you’re off sick from work

194 replies

TeaAndBrie · 06/10/2022 12:49

I’ve been off work for 3 days with a bad cold (not covid). I’m used to being on the go and spend more time out of the house than in. The last two days have been spent in bed, today I’m feeling a little brighter but get tired and dizzy quickly so not well enough to go back to work. My concentration level is terrible and at work I need to make important decisions and have staff depending on me.
it’s a beautiful sunny day outside and I was considering going out for a walk and maybe get a coffee from a kiosk (not sit in Costa or anything). My DH was mortified and said if I’m ill I shouldn’t leave the house and if i can then I’m well enough to go to work.
interested to know what people think?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

829 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
CosyDarkNights · 06/10/2022 14:31

If you are well enough to go out for a walk and go for a coffee I'm sure you are well enough to work. Unless your job is a brain surgeon or a pilot I'm sure feeling a bit iffy isn't a good enough reason to take a day off. If I'm off work sick I'm either dying in bed or sat with my head down the loo, that's what being off sick from work looks like to me. If I bumped into a colleague in a coffee shop who was off sick I'd conclude they fancied a skive and didn't want to use AL.

KeepYaHeadUp · 06/10/2022 14:31

junebirthdaygirl · 06/10/2022 13:01

Presuming you are going back to work tomorrow you can't go from bed to office. You need a half way situation and a walk to pick up coffee is fine. Stretch your legs, get some fresh air and begin to gain strength to go back. Its fine.

Consider it rehabilitation

Onthegrid · 06/10/2022 14:32

I am not ill, I WFH and it is a glorious day here, sunshine and warm. I took a break at lunchtime, went for a walk and popped to the local shop. I feel so much better for it.

The culture of going to work with a cold, soldiering on when you are under the weather is just not healthy. The company that I work for encourage all of this and if I hadn't secured a rare WFH contract I would be expected to be in the office 5 days a week, with lunch breaks away from your desk frowned upon and no sick pay. And they wonder why they can't retain staff!

Gemmanorthdevon · 06/10/2022 14:32

Depends what you do, I know my HR would be advising I go and get some fresh air during any attempt at recovery! They also would kick me straight back out of work should i go back unable to put a good day in, or im even so much as a 1% infection risk to my colleagues!

You didn't " sit in a coffee shop" neither did you go on a hike or a shopping spree! You went and got some fresh air...laying in bed or the sofa doesn't help anybody unless you are over the very very worst of it. Tell hubby to wind his neck in and do some reading on recovery!

Gingersay · 06/10/2022 14:32

I'm off today with a stress related migraine its died down so just been to b&m and bought a load of rubbish I don't need but I feel better for getting out.

YouSirNeighMmmm · 06/10/2022 14:33

Badger1970 · 06/10/2022 12:51

If you can go for a walk and sit in a coffee shop, you're well enough to be at work.

This is just not true. Perfectly possible to be fit enough to go for a walk for 20 minutes and chill on a set for 15, but not fit enough to spend 9 hours concentrating on something complex.

Blackberrybunnet · 06/10/2022 14:34

A walk in the fresh air is just what you need when you're too ill to do your job but well enough to walk. I'm with you on this one.

Sadgirlonatrain · 06/10/2022 14:35

Go for the walk and get the coffee! Best to get some fresh air than be stuck in a stuffy house with your germs. It'll make you ready for going back to work tomorrow. Sounds absolutely fine to me.

Onlyforcake · 06/10/2022 14:35

There are many illnesses that you can help your immune system out by giving yourself a gentle exercise so the heart rate increases, stimulating the mind stops us dwelling as well. Moping has its place, but listening to your body is a healthy attitude!

gogohmm · 06/10/2022 14:35

If you are well enough to go for a walk I would be back at work

reigatecastle · 06/10/2022 14:35

Badger1970 · 06/10/2022 12:51

If you can go for a walk and sit in a coffee shop, you're well enough to be at work.

Complete rubbish. There's a massive difference between going out for a walk for a coffee and working an 8 hour shift at work whatever that work is (and if the OP works for the NHS she can't sit at a desk at home). Which may also involve driving to get there and you may not be well enough to drive.

People are completely ridiculous about this. You don't have a day on the beach but of course you can go out.

Itsokay2020 · 06/10/2022 14:36

OP, if you’re feeling better than you were and contemplating returning to work tomorrow, I see no harm in going for a walk. However, if it were me, I would probably wait to do so until outside of your typical working hours for the day

reigatecastle · 06/10/2022 14:37

If I bumped into a colleague in a coffee shop who was off sick I'd conclude they fancied a skive and didn't want to use AL

Yes but you wouldn't bump into them because you'd be slaving away at your work because you never take any time off.

Borgonzola · 06/10/2022 14:37

Really odd replies on here. Of course getting a short walk and coffee are not the same as 8 hours of concentrating and communicating with others.

When I lived alone I had to go out and buy tissues/paracetamol/soup etc for myself when I was like because there was no one to do it for me. A few times I've had to pick up a prescription. Of course you need not be housebound!

A short walk in fresh air will likely do you good and aid recovery. Enjoy it!

PuppyFeet · 06/10/2022 14:39

Technically, no, you don’t need to be housebound… I suppose there’s a balance between being off sick and needing to clear your head with a walk and being off sick and spending the day out shopping! The first is fine, the second not so much.

ancientgran · 06/10/2022 14:42

I can't tell you how many times people have come and reported this sort of thing to me (HR manager) and I've always explained that people who are off sick are not under house arrest.

Glad to hear you are on the mend and hope tomorrow goes well.

FaazoHuyzeoSix · 06/10/2022 14:42

Your DH is being ridiculous as is everyone who agrees with him above.

Being well enough to get a breath of fresh air, a little gentle activity and sitting quietly in the sunshine with a hot drink is not the same as being well enough to perform a full day of work. I suspect that those who think it is must just not have very challenging jobs.

If your work involves having sharp judgement, clarity of mental focus and steady hands then you cannot perform your job well if you are under the weather and in some cases it would be criminally negligent to attempt to do so, e.g. if people's lives depend on you doing the job well. If it's not life-or-death but a poor decision or badly performed task could have serious consequences then there's a judgement call to be made about the balance of risk between whether the tasks are done badly vs not being done at all or being done by someone else. That would be a conversation between the sick person and their line manager for most people, though senior people can be expected to make that judgement call themselves.

Enjoy some time in the sun OP.

TheHoover · 06/10/2022 14:43

I can’t think of a time when I’ve been fine to go for a walk but not fit enough to work. When I’ve had awful colds / chest infections/UTIs I have not been able to even sit upright let alone go for a walk. Going to the docs eg for anti-bs would be torture. I’ve also had to do nursery drop offs when I’ll which was torture.

If I felt a walk would be a good idea it would be, for me, a sign of recovery and I would be right back at work the next day. Most employers would think it’s better that you are back and a little off form rather than stay off until you are 100% (except in certain safety focussed jobs).

I guess certain illnesses could be different but I’ve never had one.

mam0918 · 06/10/2022 14:43

Badger1970 · 06/10/2022 12:51

If you can go for a walk and sit in a coffee shop, you're well enough to be at work.

Ah yes well enough to be slinging tiles on a 3 story high roof, on your feet for 12 hours in a surgical theater, driving building to building hauling big packages, wrist deep cleaning public toilets or back on the oil rig?

People do know there are jobs that require more than sitting at a desk sipping coffee right?

In fact most necassery jobs in society require actual effort rather than sitting around relaxing.

Jules912 · 06/10/2022 14:44

Last time I was sick DH was out the country (it was for work and he'd already left before I got sick) so I had no choice but to walk to drop the kids off and pick them up. The walks actually helped me feel a little better.

WimbyAce · 06/10/2022 14:45

Fresh air will do you good, go for it. Its not like you are suggesting going off on a long hike!

ThatsTheWayIHikeIt · 06/10/2022 14:50

I'm also ill with a cold, not covid, and off work, but I still walk my dog each morning. Yesterday was a huge effort, today not so bad but still exhausting. I walk on a common where I can stay well away from other dog walkers.

The other thing to consider is if you go back to work while still infectious you will pass it on to others, so best to stay home.

If you can walk and get a coffee from an outdoor kiosk and use contactless payment, I don't really see the harm.


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ThatsTheWayIHikeIt · 06/10/2022 14:52

Most employers would think it’s better that you are back and a little off form rather than stay off until you are 100% (except in certain safety focussed jobs). yeah and infect everyone else in the process.

melj1213 · 06/10/2022 14:54

If I felt a walk would be a good idea it would be, for me, a sign of recovery and I would be right back at work the next day.

That's literally what the OP has done ... She's at the tail end of an illness and intends to go back to work tomorrow but wanted to "test" herself out by a stroll/coffee outside the house.

I don't take many sick days but when I have been off work sick then I have never gone from lying in bed feeling like death to back at work feeling fine the following day. There has always been that last 24hrs or so where you're well enough to be out of bed/off the sofa and do a small amount of activity out of the house - walk round the block, go out for a coffee etc - but you're not ready for a full 8hr work day. I have never had an employer begrudge someone that last day of sickness as they'd rather people take one extra day off than come back a day too early and either have to go home again or not be able to do their work and require others to pick up the slack.

monkeyupsidedown · 06/10/2022 14:56

I used to work for a company doctor and I agree with you. Depending on your job, you sometimes need to be fitter/more ableto be able to work than to be able to have a relaxing day in your home town. Plus that sick people still sometimes need to go out to doctors appointments, pharmacies, pick up kids from school, physiotherapy et cetera. Probably feeling shit while doing that but needs must sometimes.

We've also ok'd a vacation once for a sick person. The manager blew up on the phone while the doctor told him that a week in the sun could actually be good for the recovery in this case (chemo and lost a breast - a nurse who couldn't lift yet and needed a lot of rest still so couldn't work but could go on an all inclusive holiday lounging in the sun with the family of course). Off sick doesn't always equal sleeping in a bed.

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