is it wrong to take a sick day when you’re not really sick?

A reader writes:

So luckily (?) I’m the kind of person who is never ill enough to take time off work. I’ve worked in my current position for 4 years and not taken a single day of sick leave. (I’m not coming in and spreading illness, by the way, and I’d take the leave if I had to — I’m just not ill.)

Everyone else at work seems to take 3 or 4 days of sick leave a year. So you can guess where this is going… I’d like another day or two of holiday as much as the person. And once in a while (rarely) I wake up and REALLY don’t “feel” like going in (but do anyway).

So… How big a crime is it morally/ethically to call in “sick” on one or two days a year? Do people “expect” you to use all your leave? Part of me feels wrong for thinking of this… But the other part of me feels like I’m missing out on something everyone else is benefitting from. Sorry if this seems naive!

Most employers do not expect you to use up every single allotted sick day each year. They expect you to use it as a safety net, so that it’s there for you when you truly need it. You’re not expected to look at it the same way that you look at vacation days — as a benefit that it makes sense to try to use all of. When they’re in separate buckets, that’s part of the reason why. (If your employer buckets vacation and sick leave into one overall PTO bucket, that’s different, and it’s much more common to expect you to use all of it.)

But if you’re not using any sick leave the rest of the year, I don’t think it’s a big deal to take a couple of “mental health days,” as long as you’re thoughtful about when you do it and don’t choose days that will cause problems for your employer or coworkers.

Anyone want to disagree?

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