Let's say hypothetical office employee Alice has come down with the common cold. She feels terrible, but not so terrible that she can't work. Her productivity might be half of what it usually is, but half is not zero. Should she go to work after all? Assume an office work environment - Alice isn't a professional pianist, chef, etc.
I've had people give me contradictory advice on this. The main arguments against going to work are:
- You're contagious. You could infect others. You could not only infect your co-workers, you could infect everyone else you come into contact with, e.g. other people on the bus.
- You stay sick longer. Because you're not resting, you take longer to recover.
- You are ill. You can't concentrate as well. Your work is more likely to be shoddy.
- Employers/coworkers prefer it and disdain you for not showing social responsibility.
The main arguments for going to work are:
- Employers/coworkers prefer it and admire your dedication.
- One is no longer that contagious when symptoms are visible (the most contagious period is before symptoms are visible). Plus, the common cold is not that contagious. The person who told me this gave as examples chicken pox and conjunctivitis - with these illnesses, one should avoid going to work.
- You feel worse by taking sick leave, as though you're abandoning your colleagues. Your work piles up.
- Even if you take sick leave, you'll probably only get one day of sick leave. You'd also have to visit a doctor, so it's not like you can avoid other people. One day is not enough to fully recover, so you end up going to work sick anyway.
I suspect whether employers/coworkers prefer if Alice comes to work anyway depends on the individual, but still: are there any possible general statements?
Related, but somewhat different: How soon should you return to work after illness?