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Focus: Calling in sick

Gulf News readers debate that men often exaggerate the impact of a 'man flu'

  • Image Credit: Dana A. Shams ©Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Image Credit: Supplied

The alarm clock rings, you push the blanket off and try to sit up. Unfortunately, your head is feeling like a rock and your nose is blocked. That’s a feeling not many office-goers would like to have early in the morning.

But if recent research is to be believed, women will not let that come in the way of work. They’ll drag themselves out of bed and into the office more often than men.

According to research from the UK, 70 per cent of working women can just not call in sick.

The report also suggested that men often exaggerate the impact of a ‘man flu’ – a term coined to reflect that men, somehow, are hit harder when they catch a cold.

Do you agree? Join the debate at

17:03 Gulf News: Are women more likely to report to work while sick?

17:06 Anureet Kaur: Yes, they probably call in sick less often to work because not only do they work but also manage their households. Hence, they are born workaholics.

17:08 Dorothy Naveena: They see the situation — how things could be difficult if they are not around. Take, for example, family. Even when a mother falls sick, children only expect things to be done by their mum and not dad.

17:16 Dr. John Mathew: First of all, I would like to mention that according to Cambridge researchers, there is no scientific proof for this. We can owe it to evolutionary reasons that the male physique is more prone to illness than the female.

17:16 Anureet Kaur: Also, at times women are less secure about their jobs, hence they take fewer sick leaves as compared to men. But, I think even experience and qualifications matter a lot. If women are well-qualified and experienced, then they might not be fearful for their job.

17:25 Yesha Harish: I believe women are stronger at commitments in general.

15:29 Gulf News: Men often exaggerate the effects of a ‘man flu’.

17:30 Anureet Kaur: No, I don’t think men exaggerate the so-called ‘man flu’. Men can be workaholics too - working day and night. Especially in today’s fast-paced world, everyone knows that the more sick leaves they take, the bigger threat it could be to their jobs.

17:31 Dr. John Mathew: I would rate the ‘man flu’ concept as just another part of organisational humour. Reasons for this may sometimes be organisational — having a difficult manager, need to take a break for just a day, an elongated weekend, looking for less workload on a particular day or it may just be a very real case of flu! But, another phenomenon usually happens when, be it man or woman, an employee sees that ideal colleague of his or hers, who has never taken a leave in the last nine months of work. That makes it even harder in terms of taking an actual sick leave with thoughts about comparisons, leading to ‘presenteeism’. But ‘man flu’ is nothing but an organisational folklore. I am a big believer of science and till date, no organisational studies refer to it.

17:35 Gulf News: People don’t mind ‘bringing in their germs’ as they feel their ‘dedication’ will be appreciated.

17:38 Lodhi Azmatullah: If you are really sick, you should stay at home. Think about other colleagues at the office. Sneezing in the office may bring others in contact with the flu, so it is better to stay at home rather than bringing germs to the office.

17:38 Dr. John Mathew: We have to be conscious that we are not only taking care of our own health, but the health of others. Remember the times when there was a whole swine flu epidemic and all the offices had posters hanging on walls not to come to office if you’re not feeling well?

17:39 Anureet Kaur: Yes, during the swine flu many firms took precautions as well, and people did take sick leaves. So, this proves that people do mind passing on their germs to others.

17:40 Lodhi Azmatullah: Your dedication towards work should be kept aside when you are sick because every thing is not about the job and work. If you are sick, you are sick. There is no alternative. Take a day off and get healthy first. Then join back; no issues.

17:43 Yesha Harish: Devotion towards work is necessary, but in cases of flu or other major diseases, which might affect others, it is a must to stay at home and take care of your self rather than infecting other colleagues as well.

17:43 Gulf News: Do people often prefer not to call in sick if they have strict managers?

17:44 Dr. John Mathew: Such employees would need to wait till the manager falls sick!

17:44 Anureet Kaur: Well, let’s say if there is an important presentation or if an employee has to meet a client; then may be the employee has to come in regardless of his/her flu. So, that could be a difficult situation. And yes, if they have strict managers, employees are scared to call in sick just so that the managers do not cut a certain amount from their salaries. Sometimes it gets worse — when an employee goes on a holiday and returns with a flu. Then the question comes up on whether he/she will be granted another leave or not.

17:46 Dr. John Mathew: We sometimes use the word ‘absenteeism’ in the human resources world. A simple logic is — when an employee is not engaged, he or she will look at various ways of avoiding the workplace. Sick leave may be one of them, turning up late to office may be another.

17:46 52 Yesha Harish: Unemployment also scares away diseases. And in the present world, in some cases just one leave can lead to unemployment. So people nowadays are much more concerned about their work than their health.

17:52 Anureet Kaur: I think, as a student, employers and employees should call in sick only when it is most needed. A lot of people say ‘work is worship’ or ‘work comes first’. If you go along with that mantra, then you might call in sick less often.


Sherine MounirSherine Mounir, Abu Dhabi

It is all about your sense of responsibility. I think some people have the tendency to go to work even if they are sick and I guess it mostly has to do with insecurity about your job, or how people will see them if they take a couple of days off.”

Ebrahim Abdul HamidEbrahim Abdul Hamid, Dubai

It doesn’t matter whether it is a man or a woman, it all depends on the company and your manager. They should be alright, as long as you give them supporting documents. Even if you are sick on duty, a good manager will make sure you safely recover.”

Mohammad Abu Taleb Mohammad Abu Taleb, Dubai

I don’t know about women, but I just inform my manager any time I am sick and it is never a problem. It is just about a day, but if it is for two or three days it might be difficult because of the kind of work I do. It’s better to take an off than come to work sick.”


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Latest Comment

If you're sick, stay at home. I consider those people selfish who show up at work trying to prove their so-called "commitment". All they really do is spread their germs which only get more people sick. Stay at home if you feel down/sick. Relax and let your body heal before you get back to work.


3 June 2011 12:03jump to comments