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When are you ‘really’ sick?

It’s the season for colds. But are you sick or at work when you are ill at home? Finansforbundet’s lawyer explains what you should be aware of on the boundary between healthy and sick leave.

24. Oct 2022
4 min
Af Helle Sindal
hsi@finansforbundet.dk
English / Dansk

Are you ‘really’ sick or can you answer emails and attend a few online meetings?

This type of question will most likely come up as the winter viral diseases spread.

The corona pandemic thinned out the crowd of sick employees who drag themselves to work.

It became a ‘no go’ to show up with a cough and sore throat and risk infecting colleagues. On the other hand, more work was being done from home, and the line between being healthy and sick was blurred in new ways.

A flexible approach

“The problem is well known, even from the time before corona”, says Mette Bruun, legal consultant at Finansforbundet.

For example, it could be the employee’s manager who asks how sick they are, whether they can answer emails or perhaps participate in a planned online meeting the manager would rather not move.

It could also be the employee themselves who offers to work from home to the extent possible. Or colleagues’ more or less unspoken expectation that they manage the most necessary things at home from their sick bed.

It is not acceptable if the employee feels pressured to work despite illness and if the limit of what is reasonable is exceeded.
- Mette Bruun, legal consultant at Finansforbundet

But is it practical or a slippery slope to get some tasks done, even if you are ill?

“It makes sense to have a flexible approach to where, how and when you perform your tasks. But it is not acceptable if the employee feels pressured to work despite illness and if the limit of what is reasonable is exceeded”, says Mette Bruun.

It is very individual what you consider illness and when you should stay at home. If you are in doubt, consult your doctor, is the advice from Mette Bruun, legal consultant at Finansforbundet.

Illness is very individual

She emphasises that there is of course a difference between a sore throat, stress or a simple cold:

“In the latter case, it might make good sense to stay at home, so you have the opportunity to recover and do not expose your colleagues to unnecessary infection. To the extent that the employee is able to work a whole day at home from, you should not call in sick, but instead agree with the employer that it is a working day at home”.

“On the other hand, we usually say that ‘if you’re sick, you’re sick’. Then you shouldn’t work’, she says.

It is very individual what you consider illness and when you should stay at home. If you are in doubt, consult your doctor, the lawyer advises.

There are no rules regarding work during illness. However, you can be on sick leave part-time. This means, for example, that you are only sick half the day or a few days in a week. But then you don’t work during your illness. It will typically be in agreement with your doctor that you take part-time sick leave”, says Mette Bruun.

Finansforbundet gives advice on work and sick leave
Finansforbundet’s lawyers are contacted daily by members who have questions in relation to sick leave.

Read more about the advice here.