When to stay home due to illness

Deciding whether you should work or go to school from home isn’t always easy. When you feel sick on the big day, you may want to stick with it.

Staying at home can be difficult if it means you’re missing out on planned things. You may think you can force yourself through the day. It can also be difficult to know if a child should be sent to school if they need to turn in homework or attend a sporting event.

Getting over your symptoms isn’t the only thing to consider. You also have to be careful about making others sick. Staying home protects others while also giving you a chance to recover.

This article provides some guidelines to help you decide if you should stay home if you are sick.

Guidelines for staying home when sick

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides guidance for stopping the spread of the flu or the flu. Influenza is common and spreads easily at work and at school. There are other temporary medical conditions that can make you sick as well.

Taking care of yourself while protecting others is the most important consideration when deciding whether to take sick leave.

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Some things to remember:

  • Fever: If you have a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, stay home. Do not return to the office or school 24 hours after the fever has subsided. A fever is one of the most obvious signs of an infectious disease. If you go to school or work, you can easily pass on what you have to others.
  • Cough: Stay home if you have a productive cough, which is a mucus-filled cough. No matter where you are, be sure to cover your cough with your elbow. Wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading infection.
  • Sore throat: If you have pain swallowing, breathing, or talking, stay home.
  • Runny nose: If you blow your nose frequently to keep you clean, stay home. If it’s just a little stuffy and you’re not having trouble breathing, it’s probably fine to go to work or school. Wash your hands after blowing your nose.
  • Earaches: Unless you have a job that requires balance, earaches themselves are not a risk to others. Examples include bus drivers, pilots, or school crossing guards. If you have earaches with other cold or flu symptoms, you need to stay home.
  • Vomiting: Stay home when vomiting and for 24 hours after the last vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: Stay home when you have diarrhea, and 24 hours afterward.
  • Pink Eyes: Pink Eyes Also Known As Viruses conjunctivitis. It is highly contagious. This infection can be spread by touching objects and fabrics.
  • Rashes: Many rashes such as dermatitis, allergies, and poison ivy are not contagious. Others, like chickenpox, are highly contagious. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an infection that is resistant to antibiotics. Can be fatal when spread to others. See your doctor to see if your rash requires you to stay home.
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Fever, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea are all good reasons to avoid work or school. Stay home until you are no longer contagious.

Location and type of work

The type of work you do and its location can affect how easily you can spread the disease. If you are a cook or food server, you should stay home until there is no longer a risk of contaminating food.

If you are a health care worker or you work around people with weakened immune systems, you should stay home long enough to ensure you are no longer contagious.

A segregated office space from others can offer some protection, but few of us are completely isolated. You can spread germs to other people even if you don’t see them face-to-face. If you’re contagious, you can spread the disease when you touch coffee maker handles, bathroom fixtures, copiers, and other surfaces.


People who work in food service or work with people with weakened immune systems should be especially careful. Stay home until you are sure there is no risk of passing your illness to others.


When you’re sick, it can be tempting to “bit the bullet” to work or school. Your own happiness isn’t the only problem, though. Remember that you can also spread the disease to others.

Stay home if you have a fever or sore throat, vomiting or diarrhea, or if you have a contagious rash. Remember, you should be extra careful if you work in food service or work with people with weakened immune systems.