Working through sickness isn’t fun. I can’t recall how many times I have had to roll into work, sore throat, nose running, eyes burning and body feeling weak to put out the paper. So, when I sat down at the desk today to start another layout session, it hit me.

Last year, I was lucky as only a minor cold grabbed a hold of me. I was able to battle it off within a few short days and was back to my usual self. No time off, no sick day.

But as I sit here at the computer and type those words, I wonder how many times I had pushed my self to the brink without getting the proper rest. I think about how many sick days I passed up because “who would do this” or “I need to be there for that because.” I came to the conclusion that I really haven’t had a true, 100 percent day to recover from an illness.

According to, the number of sick days that people in my age range, 31-45, took last year had 73 percent miss 5 or fewer days of work. That group was the lowest in groups that included 18-30 years of age, 46-60 years of age, and 61 and older. I was impressed with those numbers.

But what does that mean for my group? Are we pushing through illness because we believe that it isn’t that bad or because we have to? In my case, I feel like I have to, whether that is due to a meeting I need to attend or if I feel comfortable turning the wheel over to my still new staff.

I know for many others that if you take sick time you might not get paid. This is unfortunate as those that have an illness leave the rest of their co-workers exposed to a potential chance of catching the same thing they have. It is beneficial for employers to allow sick employees the opportunity to have time to recover without feeling financial constraints.

Others, those that have paid time off, have wasted their time. When I say waste, I really mean that they have used their hours for vacations or personal days rather then when they were bedridden. PTO time is great for those that see a big number of hours or days that they can use for vacation, but can come back to bite them if they do catch a cold.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 30 percent of worker’s total compensation goes to provided health benefits. I find it a bit funny that nearly a third of my wage goes toward something that I desperately try to avoid using. You would think if you broke your overall wage down to sick, bills/take-home, and retirement, you would be shocked that you are not using your money.

So while I sit here in utter misery (dang you change in temperature and weak immune system), I hope that you will consider taking a day or two to get healthy again. To put out an optimal workload, you should probably be at optimal health. I just hope in the next few days I can get back to that point.

Zach Stich is the managing editor at The Fergus Falls Daily Journal. His column appears each Thursday.


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