Kenya Foy
July 07, 2017 7:29 am
Auskteez Tran / Unsplash

At one point or another, most of us have grappled with guilt over taking a sick day when we totally weren’t sick. Hey, we’re imperfect humans, and sometimes the grind is more than we can bear, and a relentless case of the Monday blahs invariably bleeds over into other work days. Also, hangovers happen.

Unless you’re a stickler for only taking your paid sick days when you legitimately don’t feel well, chances are you’ve used either a spectacularly lame or utterly brilliant excuse for calling out of work.

And yeah, we’re totally talking about the time you rolled over, spotted a hangnail, and called in sick to your boss while feigning a severe dry cough and a migraine.

Instead of those lame excuses, here are some reasons you should use a sick day when you’re not *actually* sick:

1You’re on the verge of burnout.

Going to work when you’re clearly on the brink of burning out doesn’t do much for your mental health. You may not be physically ill or unable to work, but ignoring the warning signs of an impending crash and burn could totally lead to you becoming sick. Take a sick day, stave off actual sickness, and keep your well-being intact.

2A family member is sick.

Many companies will allow an employee to use their sick leave when a close relative, spouse, or child is sick. So if your significant other is undergoing surgery or your child is at home with a fever, you have a great reason to use your own sick day in order to be a caretaker to someone else who’s feeling under the weather.

3You didn’t sleep well.

In the event that your sick kid/spouse/pet kept you up all night, a severe storm blew in and interrupted your sleep or you simply lost a hard-fought battle with insomnia, not resting well is a good excuse to use a sick day every once in a while.


This goes for family members, loved ones, and in our humble opinion, pets. Trying to get through your work day when you’re in such an emotionally vulnerable place is counterproductive and can disrupt the grieving process. Also, it may be a bit jarring to field questions from inquisitive and concerned colleagues when you haven’t had enough time to come to terms with the loss.

In some cases, an employee can be so overcome with grief that handling their tasks at work becomes nearly impossible, which is more than enough reason to use a sick day.

5Doctor’s appointments.

Fine, so you’re just going in for your (dreaded) dental exam which typically doesn’t take more than a couple of hours between traveling and the actual cleaning. But since you’re using sick leave for personal medical needs, it’s totally legit to take a sick day, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

6You’re on your period.

Listen, until someone in charge comes to their senses and grants us all PPTO (paid period time off), we will continue to support employees skipping a day or two of work to deal with their cramps and bloating from the comfort of their own beds.

7Severe weather.

One of the most wonderful benefits of working remotely is not having to make your way into the office in the midst of dangerous weather. But when it comes to dealing with bad weather in traditional workplaces, the rules vary depending on the business. For instance, some employers are considerate enough to close the office for inclement weather (although you may have to miss out on pay or make up the day), while others will insist that you disregard Mother Nature’s temper tantrum and come to work anyway.

Regardless, if you’re afraid of skidding on a patch of black ice or terrified by the thought of traveling in torrential rain and whiteout conditions, take a sick day to ride out the bad weather.

8A household emergency.

Reasons to use a sick day for household emergencies may include but are certainly not limited to: the garage door being stuck; that wonky washing machine you’ve been meaning to replace finally conking out and flooding the house; or a Jeep crashing through your living room while you were sleeping.

One thing to keep in mind is that frivolous use of sick days can lead to resentment from colleagues who are forced to pick up the slack in your absence. Also, if the higher-ups have reason to believe you’ve abused your paid time off privileges, it could result in you losing your job. Like most things, successful sick-day use is about picking your moment and exercising moderation.