Sick leave in Germany

Being sick is a weak excuse in the London office. Unless everyone can see that you have dragged yourself to work that morning, are looking extra rough, tried to act as if you’re not ill, but still ended up nearly fainting at your desk, you’re either completely faking it, exaggerating or running out of annual leave.

In contrast, the slightest cough, sneeze or mention of a headache in Germany and everyone is telling you to get out the office. “Gehe nach Hause, du bist krank.” Go home, you’re ill. I honestly thought people were joking at first. I only had a slight cough, it really wasn’t that bad. But hey, you can’t bash Germany for its care for the people, this is something that I love about the country after all. Until it clicked. People aren’t worried that my one random cough could develop into a cold and I would feel unwell. In fact, this wasn’t about my welfare at all, rather their own!

Now maybe I’m underestimating things but I really don’t think that people are that contagious. I mean, if I take the day off work just because of a slight cough, I always feel like I’m taking the mick. It’s just a cough, I’m not bed bound.

Additionally, people have allergies. I for one suffer from hay fever (sometimes as early as February) and then constantly have a blocked nose throughout the winter. I’m not ill, just allergic to everything and unfortunately have a nose that doesn’t seem to work very well. Stop telling me to go home, I’m fine!

Nevertheless, I do actually think it’s good that people in Germany are given more than enough time to recover from illness and prevent it from getting worse without forcing themselves into the office to show their evidence. Thing is, I still can’t seem to shake that ‘everyone thinks your faking it’ feeling, especially when my manager’s a Brit!

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