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When to Tough it Out and When to Stay Home: A Guide to NYC Sick Day Etiquette

As a New Yorker, it can be challenging to determine when it is appropriate to go to work and when you should stay home due to illness. The pressure to be productive is always high, but taking care of your health is equally essential. In this article, we will break down when it’s okay to stay home and when you should tough it out and go to work.

When to Stay Home

  1. Fever: A fever is a sign that your body is fighting an infection. If you have a fever of 100.4°F or higher, you should stay home until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. This is especially important if you work with children, the elderly, or individuals with weakened immune systems.
  2. Vomiting and Diarrhea: If you’re experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, it’s best to stay home until your symptoms have subsided for at least 24 hours. These symptoms can be highly contagious and can easily spread in the workplace.
  3. Contagious Illnesses: If you have a contagious illness such as the flu, strep throat, or mono, it’s best to stay home until you are no longer contagious. This can help prevent the spread of illness to your coworkers.
  4. Severe Fatigue: If you’re feeling extremely fatigued and unable to focus, it’s best to stay home and rest. Pushing through can lead to burnout and can make you more susceptible to illness.
  5. COVID-19 Symptoms: If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you should stay home and get tested. If you test positive, you must stay home and follow the guidance of your healthcare provider and local health department.

When to Tough it Out

  1. Minor Colds: If you have a minor cold with no fever, it’s generally okay to go to work. Just be sure to practice good hygiene such as washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  2. Allergies: If you have allergies and are not contagious, it’s okay to go to work. Just be sure to take your allergy medication as prescribed and practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of germs.
  3. Mild Headaches: If you have a mild headache, it’s generally okay to go to work. Just be sure to stay hydrated and take over-the-counter pain medication as needed.
  4. Minor Injuries: If you have a minor injury such as a sprain or strain, it’s generally okay to go to work. Just be sure to take breaks and avoid any activities that aggravate your injury.
  5. Non-Contagious Illnesses: If you have a non-contagious illness such as allergies or a minor cold, it’s usually okay to go to work. Just be sure to take care of yourself, practice good hygiene, and avoid close contact with others.


Remember, taking care of your health should always be a priority. If you’re unsure whether or not you should stay home, consult with your healthcare provider. They can help you determine the best course of action based on your individual circumstances. If you need an in-person checkup without the hassle of traveling, try Sickday’s medical house call service.

Additionally, if you do choose to go to work while feeling under the weather, be sure to take extra precautions to prevent the spread of illness. Practice good hygiene, avoid close contact with others, and wear a mask if necessary.

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to navigate NYC sick day etiquette with confidence, and keep you and your coworkers healthy. Stay safe, stay healthy, and take care of yourself!

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