Is It Ever Okay To Text In Sick?

Is It Ever Okay To Text In Sick?

16 June 2017

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Touch wood, I’m feeling fit as a fiddle. I picked up my usual, horrific flu in winter which did require a half day in bed nursing a Lemsip but other than that, I’m in work every day. Bright-eyed and bushy tailed … For the most part.

I come from a family where my dad and grandpa never missed a day of work, even if they were hanging by a thread, so I tend not to call in unless it’s unavoidable. But, if I did have to phone in sick, I would do just that: Phone.

It sounds silly – and it’s not like I put on a ‘sick voice’ but I like to ensure that my employer knows my reasons are genuine and that I haven’t decided not to turn up purely because I couldn’t be bothered. I’ll usually then keep them updated by text or email as to when I anticipate returning to work.

I read a post on LinkedIn the other day, wherein an employer posed the question: Is it ever okay to take a sick day via text? I must admit, I have done this before – but only because I had tonsillitis and couldn’t physically make a sound on the phone. It was either text, or have my line manager think I had given her one of those dodgy, heavy breathing phone calls.

If I am running late for work, I send a text rather than make a phone call. So, is this wrong?

I conducted a straw poll around the office and the results were overwhelmingly in favour of the old-fashioned way: Picking up the phone. Many people said they would then accept a text later in the evening (as I usually do) to notify them of the employee’s return date.

Only in extreme circumstances (such as the illness preventing you from being able to get to a phone or speak), would a text be acceptable. Some employees said that, if they had a good relationship with their manager, they would send a text as soon as they felt unwell and follow it up with a call once office hours commenced.

For some people, a call is either company policy or the way things are usually done. Most places of work expect that you call in no later than 15 minutes before your shift is due to start. It could perhaps give your manager a chance to get a quick update on any work that might need to be covered that day.

But, for this new generation of Millennials, isn’t everything done by text?

Certainly, if the response on the LinkedIn post was anything to go by, most employers were actually happy and comfortable receiving a text or email rather than a phone call. They stated they were “moving with the times” or “keeping up with the preferences” of their younger workforce.

So, are we to lose the art of the perfectly practiced ‘sick voice’ since a text is easier to hide behind? One of our employees perhaps hit the nail on the head: “I still think it requires a phone call. Calling in sick is not always just about having an upset stomach, it can be the start of someone being unhappy at work, perhaps being bullied, not coping with their workload or not hitting target etc. 

“I believe that when you have to have a conversation with your manager about why you are not coming in it can help the manager make a judgement on how the employee is feeling and they may be able to address the issue – if there is one.”

What do our clients and candidates think? Is it ever acceptable to text in sick? Let us know in the comments section below.

If you need temporary cover for long term sickness within your workplace, click here to meet our teams and discuss your recruitment needs.




Written By Mary Palmer


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