Employment and HR

Can you afford to take a full day off from work?

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the day off taking medicinePAYING THE BILLS TAKES MONEY

 

In order to take a full day off from work for most people that means an entire day’s loss of income.

That can be tough for any budget but there are times when it must be done.

Unless your employer has provided you with stellar benefits or a contract that states your days off are paid sick days you might be shaking your head, no you can’t afford to take a full day off.

You may say, yes you can afford to take a full day off because you have money saved up in the event that you need to take a day off and it won’t affect your budget too much. That’s great.

Some employees are lucky they can carry over their sick days, bank them or get paid out for them but you must read the provisions of your contract with your employer to know what is covered.

If you are not sure contact your human resources department or your benefits company for a more in-depth explanation. It’s better to know rather than to guess.

 

Full day off

 

Not everyone can afford to take a full day off from work especially if they are single income earners. It might not be as crushing to lose a full day’s pay if you have two income earners in the house but when you are the only person bringing home the bacon it’s tough to pick up that phone and dial the numbers to say, I can’t make it in today.

Personally I have never called in sick or taken a full day off from work that wasn’t a vacation day or my employer told me to take a day off.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I could make that call unless I knew beyond a doubt that I would not be able to work that day. Some people are born workaholics and although I’m only a partial workaholic (does that exist lol) I’ve just never had the need to take a full day off that wasn’t a vacation day, lucky maybe.

There are many other acceptable reasons why someone would call in to take the full day off such as a death in the family, no babysitter, illness, injury or an urgent matter that needs dealing with.

Many people cringe when other employees come to work sick but when you have mouths to feed they may not have the options that others do. Then again some employees cringe when their co-workers take the fullday off and they are stuck to pick up the work load. You can never win.

Of course there are some employees who are allergic to coming in to work every other Friday but if they get that doctor’s note there’s not much you can do until after the 10 days of unpaid leave are used up.

We can’t judge someone because we don’t know what happens when they leave work and it’s really none of our business. If the illness is one that spreads and is contagious then it becomes a health matter that needs to be dealt with promptly.

The common cold although it can spread many people still rise and shine and make their way into work because staying home won’t pay the bills.

How many times have you went to work sick or blowing your nose but didn’t want to call in because you knew that if you took the full day off it wouldn’t make a lick of difference?

A friend of ours had posted on Facebook how ill she was and of course the comments came pouring in. It’s the winter season and so many of us are prone to getting ill at some point unless you are super lucky.

What to do on your day off?

Well, her friends had some great ideas for her but nothing she could accept.

“Take the full day off, put your feet up and rest”, said one friend. “Make sure you drink lots of fluids and take care of yourself”, “Don’t go in to work, stay home”, said many of the comments.

Sure she was basking in the thought of staying home and taking the day off but there was no way she could because she is a single mother and she is already in debt up to her eyeballs.

Losing a full day of income might mean she can’t pay a bill that month or would have to cut back on groceries.

Debt is nothing to be proud of but for some people the credit card is their life saver and for a variety of reasons. Although I would never suggest using a credit card to get by on a daily basis that is reality for many people because they simply have nowhere to turn to.

They get locked into that debt system and for many they never get out and for others it takes them years upon years to break free.

Try not to look back at how much you actually paid out-of-pocket for that time in your life when it was rough but for those trying to get by, that might not cross their minds too often.

Putting food on the table and a roof over their heads is the priority while keeping the bills paid. That life must be tough so telling someone to take the full day off or getting upset with someone because they don’t take the full day off for one reason or another is not right. We don’t know what they are going through.

I know if someone were to come in sick to work at my employer and asked if there was a role they could do that was away from other employees for the day they would certainly accommodate them although not all employers can or have to do this.

We have a great team where I am so we work together when one of us has to take the full day off for one reason or another. Questioning them is none of our business. Our business is making sure we do what we are paid to do and that’s to work.

Getting nasty with your co-workers doesn’t solve problems either. Just because you can afford to stay home doesn’t mean everyone can and should follow the way you can live your life.

Trust me if someone had a personal emergency and could afford to stay home, they would pick up the phone and make the call.

 

Personal emergency leave

 

In Ontario if you work for an employer who regularly employs more than 50 employees you have the right to 10 unpaid job-protected days off each year no matter when you start with an employer.

Although, there are some jobs that are not covered even though there are more than 50 employees rather they are covered under special rules. To see the full career list visit the link below.

The 10 days is what is called personal emergency leave under the Ontario Ministry of Labour which has provisions for the employer and employee.

The employer for one must not fire or threaten any employee for taking a personal emergency leave or plans to take one.

The employer is allowed to ask you for a doctor’s note if you do call in so be prepared to make that appointment if need be.

You may also have to think about paying for that doctor’s note about $10 from most doctors’ offices. Some works benefits may cover that doctor’s note as well so don’t be shy to ask.

If you work for an employer that is covered under a contract or collective agreement and the provisions are less than the Employment Standards Act you still get the 10 days of un-paid personal emergency leave days.

I’m sure before personal emergency leave came into effect many of you were scared to call in to take the ful day off too many times because you didn’t know how your employer would react.

Even today you don’t know what they can or will do if they don’t want you around even though you are protected. It’s become much easier though for people who are stuck such as the babysitter can’t make it and now you have no one to watch your kids.

That would count as a personal emergency where you could call in to take the full day off although maybe having a second back-up babysitter would be a cheaper option rather than losing a full days income.

My wife’s friend seemed a bit hesitant to respond to the call of taking the full day off and relaxing as you could tell in her response but she opened up and said, “I can’t afford to take the day off”.

No more responses came in after that because it was clear that no matter what anyone said unless she was getting wheeled off to the hospital she had to go in.

The hard part is she has been through so many rough times with her jobs and education that has gotten her nowhere. Like many who get a higher education they are forced to work minimum wage jobs because they struggle to find work in their career right away, if ever.

Even though minimum wage is slated to go up to $11 that is far from enough to keep someone afloat especially if they are a single parent with no child support.

 

Plan in advance

 

Are there ways to prepare so you can take the day off?

If I had an opportunity to sit with her I would love to go over her budget with her, if she has one at all. If not I’d certainly work with her if she allowed me to so we could see where all of her money goes to help her get back on track.

So my first tip is to have some form of a budget so you know exactly where all of your money is going.

I know for a fact that she smokes over a pack of cigarettes every day. We all know what smoking does to our health and finances but sometimes we just need a bit of motivation to quit. I know I’ve been smoke free for over 2 years and smoked for many years.

I also know that you can’t force or manipulate someone into quitting. Although once they do and they look back they will wonder what took them so long to do it.

The smoking habit costs and it costs smokers big time. That would be her personal choice but it would certainly free up money for her.

She eats out regularly and is a well-known customer at Tim Hortons where she doesn’t hesitate to scrape up enough change every day to buy a few coffees.

You can easily see where some of the money is draining without even really knowing much about her income and debt. If someone complains of being broke all of the time by simply by watching someone’s habits you will know where the money goes.

My second tip is to combat all the small expenses in your budget.

If you could find all those little expenses that you blow every day and find a cheaper alternative like making your own coffee and bringing a lunch you could use that money for a rainy day.

Just because you might have lots of debt or on a low-income doesn’t mean you still can’t have an emergency savings fund. Of course it’s possible.

The hard part for many is waiting to see the emergency money pot grow or they spend it because of some excuse or another which is not an emergency.

Paying down your debt and not incurring any more debt is another way to lessen the burden of wondering if you can afford to take day off from work.

Although living pay to pay is tough you don’t have to continue down that route if you just find some ways to cut back and put that money saved to work for you. The worst thing you could do is cut back and blow that extra money. You will never get ahead.

Think before you spend your hard-earned money. Think about all the reasons why you would rather have money in the bank that grows rather than eating out or buying stuff you don’t need.

Some people don’t have any options especially if they are a contractor and or run their own business inside or outside of the home.

Finding a work life balance might be tough especially if you are the only captain of your ship. If you don’t show up to work the job will not get done.

Most people on contract have no works benefits nor do they have vacation days so taking the day off is a tough call to make. We all have to make ends meet so deciding whether you can afford to take a full day off for whatever reason may be stressful.

The good news is that for many the 10 unpaid days are available so if you need to use them and your day off falls under the acceptable provisions you don’t have to worry about losing your job, just your income for the full day.

What are some ways you prepare for unpaid days off financially?

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Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

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