Sick and Struggling: Navigating Financial Challenges without Paid Time Off

HomeArticlesSick and Struggling: Navigating Financial Challenges without Paid Time Off

If you’re sick, stay home. This workplace creed prevents the spread of illness throughout the office, giving you time to recover from the sniffles, a crushing migraine, or even COVID.

Unfortunately, a quarter of Americans struggle to follow this tip when sick days come out of their pocket. According to a Pew Research study, a whopping 24% of workers in the US do not have paid sick days.

Taking unpaid time off while you’re sick can be challenging for your budget. But assuming you have important medical appointments or something contagious, you can’t go to work and power through it.

So, what can you do? Here are some options to help you during this tough financial time.

Tap into Vacation Days

Using your vacation days to cover an illness is annoying, but it’s an easy way to make sure you get paid while you take time to recover.

This isn’t always an option, as employers who don’t supply paid sick leave probably aren’t interested in paying their employees to take holidays either. However, this might be available if you simply run out of sick days during a bad bout of bronchitis or the norovirus.

Talk to your manager about using these days to cover your illness, making sure you emphasize how you’re doing them a favor by staying home. After all, they may be willing to approve your time off when they know you won’t be bringing a contagious illness into the office.

Work from Home

Working from home can be a good compromise for everyone. You can stay home, skipping the tiring commute and work from a comfy pile of blankets. Meanwhile, your coworkers can get your input without worrying about catching your cold.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, a work-from-home setup isn’t the anomaly it once was. Plenty of offices are currently following a hybrid model, which allows employees to work from home half of the week. Talk to your employer about increasing your work-from-home days to help you kick your cold.

Budgeting for Unpaid Time Off

In service-based positions, you might not be able to work from home, and you may not have vacation days at your disposal. That leaves you sacrificing some of your paycheck in order to recover, see doctors, or undergo tests.

The cost of taking unpaid sick time can be hard to handle. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wages lost from taking three days off is equivalent to losing monthly grocery spending or a household’s monthly utilities budget.

In this scenario, losing the wages you usually rely on to pay bills is a lot like facing an unexpected expense you can’t ignore. In these emergencies, you may consider visiting a website like MoneyKey to learn about emergency installment loans online. Emergency installment loans can give you temporary funds to resolve this payment issue if you know you can repay what you borrow once you get back to work.

Emergency loans are intended as a last resort, so you should focus on building an emergency medical fund if you don’t have paid sick leave. Most experts recommend you have as much as six months of living expenses in this account, but anything can help. Focus on what you need to do to save up the equivalent of three days without pay and go from there.

Bottom Line:

According to the CDC, the average person takes a few days to under two weeks to recover from the flu. That’s a lot of time to go without a paycheck.

If you would struggle to make ends meet with this much time off, consider making a career change in the future. Look at booming fields that promise better benefits, like AI and the cybersecurity industry.

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