Is calling in sick with a headache a valid reason to miss work? An employee has been having daily headaches and speaks to one of the nurses. Based upon her descriptions, the nurse explains that she probably has a tension headache or a migraine. The nurse advises your employee to keep a daily log of anything that seems to make her headache worse until she is able to see a doctor next week. You decide to do some research into tension-related and migraine headaches.

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Calling in sick can be a valid reason to miss work in most places of employment. It would be helpful to know what the specific place of employment's policy is regarding both "sick days" and "personal days." Some places, for example, will allot a certain number of "personal days" to employees that can be used for many things so long as they don't go against company policy. In some cases, the "sick days" are included in the "personal days" so that an employee could call in sick and not have it count against them, so long as they still have personal days remaining.

Also, if an employee can provide proof of a doctor's diagnoses regarding illness, the absence will often be considered justified and accepted. Even if an absence is for a prolonged amount of time, a note from a doctor can sometimes be used to excuse an employee. In the case of a headache or migraine, if a person is diagnosed with migraines their absences may be considered more justified than someone who simply complains of headaches. However, once again this will greatly depend on the policy of the specific company that the employee works for.

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The short answer is "yes." Calling in sick because of a headache is a valid reason for missing work. I would like to stress that calling in sick because of a headache is not always a valid reason for missing work. Headaches can vary, and the problem is that they can vary from person to person. Some people are capable of functioning quite normally with a fairly severe headache, but other people might be completely incapacitated by the same headache. Pain tolerance is different for different people; however, headache severity is also a variable. A minor background headache and a migraine are both technically headaches; however, a person with a severe migraine is often incapable of moving or tolerating light, much less doing any kind of work. I think having a migraine is a completely legitimate reason for calling in sick. Another variable is the cause of a headache. Perhaps the headache is a result of a recently sustained concussion. Headaches are part of the standard "signs and symptoms" of concussions, and I would not want an employee of mine that recently sustained a concussion coming in to work with a headache. That headache is an indicator that the brain trauma is still there, and an employer doesn't want to further aggravate the injury and prolong the healing process by requiring that employee to come into work with a headache. Finally, I would hope that any employee is mature enough and experienced enough to know the difference between a regular headache that can be tolerated and/or treated with over-the-counter medications and a headache that is a sign and symptom of something else.

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Calling in sick with a headache can be a legitamate reason to miss work. Of course, it really depends on the intensity of the headache. One would hope that an employee would be mature enough not to call in sick unless it was a severe headache. If the headache is a migraine, the person might miss a good deal of work until a doctor can determine a course of treatment for the person. A migraine is more than just a serious headache. It can cause light sensitivity, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, sensitivity to sound, and many other equally unpleasant symptoms. Migraines can be truly debilitating. Any severe pain should be taken seriously. Headaches can be an indicator for many serious conditions. Some headaches can even be clues to life threatening issues such as a clot or bleading in the brain. Personally, I would never advise an employee to self-medicate. While they might choose this option, it is always best to advise others to seek medical attention from a qualified physician.
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