Meddling Motives: When a boss becomes interested in your sick day

by epi on September 18, 2012

Q: What should one do when every time, without fail, a manager calls a worker into his office the day after the worker comes back from being out of the office sick?  The usual line is “I just wanted to see how you are feeling”?  What is a good response to that kind of behavior?

A: Regardless of the motives of the manager, it is best to presume that his interest is genuine.  Approaching the question that way will make it much easier to respond.  A simple and honest response is, “I’m feeling just fine now.  Thank you for your concern.”  There’s no point in questioning your manager’s motives or accusing him of checking up on you.  This would simply set the stage for creating a difficult situation where none needs to exist.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanna September 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

I agree. It may indeed be genuine concern – after all, the person was presumably ill enough to necessitate missing a whole day of work. It’s only courtesy to inquire.

I used to work in a place where, every time you called out sick, the boss would demand to know WHY you were out – that’s the real no-no. None of us abused sick days or anything, so there was no reason for this behavior in the first place. But even if it weren’t illegal, it’s beyond rude to essentially ask someone, “So, what was it? Endless bouts of diarrhea? Projectile vomiting?” That’s not something I want to share.

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Mick September 23, 2012 at 4:55 am

I dont know about this. I feel it’s only fair to let your boss know what’s going on if you ring in sick. After all, they are (presumably) paying for your sick-leave and you should at least give an indication of what the trouble is – you dont need to go into great detail, but if you simply report that you’re “unwell”, I think it’s your manager’s right to ask for more detail. I dont live in the US, however – is it illegal to ask for specifics when a staff member rings in sick?

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