Balancing Sick Days

Taking a much needed nap to help recover from being sick.

I haven’t been lucky enough to work for a company that provides unlimited sick days.  Wishful thinking.  Most of the time the companies have given me 6 or 7 days of leave but before kids, I rarely ever used them.  Now with two toddlers, it’s a must and sometimes it feel like 6 or 7 isn’t even enough! 

I used to feel a strong need to be around for the kids to nurse them back to health but when you’re constantly out because your children have ear infections, or whatever, it doesn’t look so great to your boss.  To your boss, you’re always out and because you’re out, you can’t get your work done (even if you’re on top of things).  Then you may start to feel a bit of resentment because “why do I always have to be the one taking are of the kids?”

I was at a point earlier this year when the kids were getting sick a lot.  I took a lot of time off and nearly used all of my sick days to care of them.  My boss was getting upset because I was out for more than 2 days at a time.  I was really stressing out.  One day I was in a horrible mood and I snapped at my husband – “My boss is mad at me because I’m always home with the kids!  Why can’t you take time off to care for them?!”  Turns out, he could but I never asked him to and he thought I wanted to stay home with the kids.  Some of you may be thinking “why do I need to ask him?  He should ‘know'”.  Honestly, ladies – men need to be asked/told directly.

After some trial and error, we found what works best for us.  We’re both salaried employees which means we get paid the same amount for the time we do/don’t work.  My manager says that if I work for 30 minutes and I get called out to take care of a sick child, I can still claim that time as a full day of work.  In order to meet the requirements of both of our jobs, my husband and I have taken shifts.  Here’s an example (in military time):

0700 – 0800: Working parent drops non-sick child off at daycare
0800 – 1200: First parent goes to work, Second parent stays home with sick child
1200 – 1230: First parent returns home, Second parent leaves for work
1230 – 1700: Second parent picks up non-sick child and returns home

This works great because we’re able to stay home with the child, reduce the number of sick days we need to take, and we’re meeting the demands of our busy work schedules.  Of course, when necessary, we’ll each take a full day depending on the severity of the illness.

Here is a short list of companies that I read about who were family friendly.  The numbers listed next to the company names are the amount of fully paid maternity weeks/fully paid paternity weeks.  🙂  Maybe you’re lucky enough to have access to some of these companies!

American Express 10/2
Arnold and Porter 18/6
Bank of America 12/12
Boston Consulting Group 12/2
Cisco 26/0
Citi 13/0
Covington and Burling 18/0
Deloitte 14/8
Deutsche Bank 18/1
Ernst and Young 14/6
Goldman Sachs 16/4
HP 20/1
Katten Muchin Rosenman 11/1
Lego Systems 13/2
McKinsey and Co 14/4
Pfizer 12/6
PwC 15/3

How do you and your partner/spouse handle a sick child and your work schedule?


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