How sick is too sick for work, school or daycare?

Winter is coming. Literally, it starts in a few days.

With winter comes a season full of snot, sniffles, coughs, itchy eyes and runny noses.

And with these illnesses, comes a raft of daily decisions that focus around one core question: how sick is too sick to function today?


If you’re a parent, winter is quite frankly the worst season of the year. Our kids collect and share germs at warp speed, and so we spend the next few months trying to isolate, nurture and nourish them back to good health.

If you’re an employee or manager who doesn’t have kids, but who works with parents, this time of year truly sucks for you as well. You’re either going to be covering for your co-workers who are off work taking care of their sick offspring, or you’re dodging the germs they bring into the office (which generally come ‘care of’ their germ-infested little love nuggets, bless their hearts).

In the midst of this germ-dodging, we will have many, many mornings where we wake up and ask ourselves the pivotal question:

Am I too sick to go to work today?

Or it’s weight-bearing cousin:

Is my child too sick to go to school/daycare/kindy today?

These are loaded questions, as each answer sets off a course of action with many varied impacts. If we keep our kids home from school, we may have to arrange time off work ourselves to care for them. If we send them to school, we may be exposing other kids to their germs (plus it’s pretty lousy to be at school when you’re a kid and you feel like death warmed up).

On the other hand, if we drag our sneeze-factory selves to work, we risk spreading the contagious love to our co-workers, which could start a vicious cycle of illness-related decision-making in another household.

So, in an effort to help you navigate this minefield and minimise the germ spread on the Gold Coast this winter, I’ve prepared this handy guide:

Snot – if it’s light and clear, you’re good to go. If it’s dripping like a tap or turns green (gag!), then it’s probably best to fire up Netflix for a home day on the sofa.
Coughing – is it persistent, chesty and/or hacking? Stay home. If it’s a light cough that only pops up to say hello after exerting energy (and in the case of your kids, they’re old enough to cover their mouth), it’s probably business as usual.
Sneezing – we don’t need to go into too much detail here, but suffice to say that if you need tissues on hand at all times, it’s probably safer to be at home.
Fever – game over. This is your body’s way of shouting at you that it needs a day of rest. Listen to thine self and give in to the Gods of respite. Your coworkers (and their families) will thank you for it!