Answering this question ethically requires paying respect to context, because the answer will vary as we move from context to context. For example getting a dozen other people sick just so you can work an eight hour shift at retail serving french fries is a lot different than working at home where you don’t have the risk of getting others sick, especially if the one person serving french fries has six kids to feed.
When posing this question, you may want to ask yourself, would you go to a wedding, a place where there might be elderly people and children, if you were very sick? Would your answer change if this was the first wedding you would ever go to and you’ve always wanted to go to a wedding? Plus one of the people getting married is an old friend from high school?
We all have this passed down tradition that hot soup is good for you when you’re sick. But do we ask why? I believe it’s because your body doesn’t want to have to digest and process a bunch of meat and other tough foods when it’s trying to heal and needs all the energy it can get fighting off an illness. Soup is good because it gives you nutrients without needing a lot of digestion power. This is proof that you’re body wants to heal and REST when you’re sick. Therefore, overall, you might want to rest instead of working because this is known to make you heal faster. You probably have evidence of this in your own life.
So in the long run, wouldn’t you be able to work more hours if you rested? You could work poorly when you’re sick and be sick longer, or rest when you’re sick and get back to fully working well sooner. When taking the time to rest, I find, you tend to be a bit excited to get back to work and you may go through a long focused episode of work, work, work because you feel the obligation to make up for lost time.
For the guy who gets work at home… What about him? Should he work? Well, as evidence that you work poorly when you’re sick, I’ll tell you that I’m writing this while I’m sick; and though it may not be work because it’s a hobby, I’m finding it takes a lot longer than usual to put words together and create rhythmic sentences that read well. I can usually write a lot faster and with less effort when I’m at my best. But since I can still get some stuff done while I’m lounging in a chair at home, I might as well. Though I must admit I would not recommend working when you’re sick, even when you’re at home, because I SHOULD BE RESTING RIGHT NOW!
I continue to work when I don’t feel overwhelmed by my sickness because I’m passionate about my hobby and am so grateful to have the chance to do this. I have so much respect for my time on earth that I want to do something productive with it even when my body is telling me no. Maybe you have a goal you’re working to accomplish and you don’t want stop working because you have a habit built into your blood that tells you to work no matter what. Suffer through the pain for a better tomorrow, it tells you. Or maybe you work a job you hate and the flue’s telling you that this is a great excuse for lounging at home playing video games all day. In that case maybe you really do deserve or a break, but–now this is a bit off topic–I’d tell you to see the free time as an opportunity to search for better work. If you’re lounging on the couch by the TV and reading this, you could scroll through some local listings and see what jobs are listed. Maybe I’ll write a post about how to find a job you love later. I digress.
So the answer to if you should work when you’re sick is really up to you. Ask yourself: Do you really want to get an old lady sick by accident? Do you feel like you can somehow never get someone sick by accident no matter how tiny particles from your mouth can be to the eye? These are ethical question you should consider if you’re not a psychopath. Or perhaps the ethics are backwards because you’re working with a bunch of construction junkies like I did all my life and they’d laugh at you if they knew you were in the bathtub all day watching Flintstones because you had a wee bit of pain in you’re throat. Poor boy. See how the context can flip things around on you?
If you have the risk of getting others sick, my advice would be to always stay home. You’re not doing god’s work by giving the flue to passing lawyers on the street, no matter how satisfying that would be. Listen to you’re heart. A lot of students keep going to school when they’re sick because they’re paying a lot to be there and can’t miss information for a test. This was the case for me back in the 70s. Whenever I was able to steal notes from a friend, though, I’d always stay home. I remember no one could henpeck you if did go to school though, because there was almost an expected phenomenon in the culture that said everyone would eventually get sick anyways. It’s so hard not to in a university where football players never wash their hands.
Now for my regular readers who expect posts related to trades and construction, I’d say take the sick leave if you got it. Listen to what you’re heart is telling you. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Do what you can and get you’re body healthy again.