How high a fever will you run before calling in sick?

By KK Miller

The Japanese work environment might qualify as a something of a business paradise because Japanese workers so rarely take a day off. They are instead known to put in tons of free overtime and often don’t use “sick leave." There is even a word in Japanese for death from overwork -- "karoshi."

Despite the health risks, many won’t take the day off if they are feeling a little under the weather. But what do Japanese people consider “a little sick” and “really sick”? A survey was conducted aiming to answer that question.

When you’re feeling ill, it seems like a smart move to call in sick. After all, you should probably stay home and not risk spreading your illness to the rest of your office or the people with whom you’ll be packed into a rush-hour train. Maybe you don’t get paid sick leave, but taking the day off to make sure you are ready to go get 'em the next day seems more efficient in the long run.

According to a survey though, almost 30% of respondents would still go to work with a temperature of 38°C. Doctors consider that body temperature to mean that you’re running a fever, and recommend getting some rest to allow your body to recover. But in Japan, it seems, the good of the company trumps the good of one’s own health in many cases.

The survey asked 226 men and women between the ages of 20-39 a few different questions about how often they get sick and how it affects their work. For example, one question asked, “If you were running a fever, at what temperature would you take the day off?”

Respondents were also asked what reasons they cited for taking the day off. Painful headaches certainly led the way, with 51.3% of the people citing it as the main cause for eating into their holiday time.

The interesting category here is the number of people who said a runny nose would cause them to take the day off. From our experience, people in Japan just stuff tissues up their nose, ignore the embarrassment, and keep on working. Also, blowing your nose with people around is seen as rude.

You might wonder why so many people decide to tough it out and stay at work. Perhaps it’s because many Japanese people wear a “face mask of invincibility” when they are sick (and even when they aren’t in some cases!), and are lulled into a false sense of security that the infection won’t spread.

Some Japanese Internet users were slightly irked by the idea of taking a day off with only a 38°C fever.

-- “More than 40°C and I’ll take the day off”

-- “Having a fever has nothing to do with it. I decide based upon whether or not my head and my body can work.”

-- “Normal salarymen won’t take the day off with even a 40°C fever. Those that immediately do so are communists.”

In no way does this survey completely represent the entire Japanese work force, but at least it gives us a small view of how some people treat their health versus their job.

Source: Golden Times

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- You won’t believe what’s at the end of this 4-hour line -- Don’t like drinking with the boss? No Promotion For You! -- Kansai scraps “power off” mobile phone ban on trains; Kantō won’t budge

© RocketNews24

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Some workplaces are so high pressure and intense that calling in sick is out of the question. You must show up unless you're in the hospital and some people believe they shouldn't call in sick ever. The problem with not calling sick when you are sick is a public health issue and you're likely to infect other people in your place of work. People are more susceptible to colds and illnesses in the winter not because of the change of temperature but because people spend a lot more time indoors, around other people. If you're one of those people who believes you should tough it out when you're ill and show up to work anyway, you're the person who will likely contribute to other people catching your illness.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

This reveals the very sad state of affairs for workers in Japan. For most, going to work sick is probably a fear of losing a chance for promotion, demotion or even job loss. Yet it is also in part because workers discipline themselves and each other, having internalized the attitude of capitalists and corporate managers, whereas they should be supporting and protecting each other's health and labour rights.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

If you are sick in Japan you take a day's leave - you do not call in sick. If ; you have your spleen out or something, you can have a long weekend, but otherwise, don't let the side down.

Japanese workplaces are a treadmill and all feet must be at the wheel, sick or not.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I once got the Noro virus from someone who came to work sick. I was very very angry.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

A headache?! Please! A 'real hangover' includes a blistering headache so what a joke that 5.13% of people would think of not going to work when the have a headache. Take a couple of pills and suck it up buttercup.

Now if you have something that others can catch from you at work... STAY THE HELL HOME!!! It's better to be down one worker than half the floor you work on. That's just stupid to come in sick and spread the illness around.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

in my 10 years stay in Japan what I learned that Japanese companies will not consider you sick if you take a day off, you need to take 2 or 3 sick leaves. One of my friend fired by a Japanese Investment Bank in Tokyo , because he took all his sick leaves in a year. Hopeless work culture, pathetic work environment.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Used to be that you needed a doctors note to be excused from school or work. I think that if the company questions if you are sick, then you should take a cab ride down to the office and cough on everyone and then go back home.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

'Now if you have something that others can catch from you at work... STAY THE HELL HOME!!! It's better to be down one worker than half the floor you work on. That's just stupid to come in sick and spread the illness around.'

Haven't you heard how important salarymen are to the company? The company would collapse the very next day if Kenji didn't come in sick and do even less than his usual sod all for 80% of the working day.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Just do not show. Big places will not notice.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I waited until 41.2 degrees early this year before I went to the doctor. It was the third day in a row it peaked at that temperature, so I went in at the behest of coworkers. My job doesn't force me to go or stay if ill, or pressure me to be there when physically it would be more detrimental than good, and I simply don't believe in going to the doctor for the common cold or similar when it can be cured naturally with rest and healthy foods. All the same, even I thought it was time to probably get checked, and it while it was indeed just a nasty cold and I didn't end up taking the bags full of medicine they gave me, save some aspirin like tablets, it was good to know it was nothing worse.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

Sure makes more sense to go to work and spread your illness on the train, the bus and around your work place, than to stay home rest and recover and save everyone else the discomfort of catching what ever you have. But then we know not much common sense around this place.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Japan needs to get rid of this outdated work mentality. You should work to live, not the other way around. Unless you like to be a slave.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Nearly everyone in my company would only call in sick if they were literally physically unable to drag themselves in. Might as well call in dead.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This never makes sense to me. A company that values it's employees allows for the fact that they will inevitably get sick and covers their recovery. A sensible employee who is sick should allow time for recovery away from his co-workers so that they don't infect the whole lot of them. Fellow co-workers should understand and empathise with them whilst they recover.

If you got to work when you are sick, you are an idiot.

If the company frowns upon it's workers taking time off to recover, it's a flawed company in a flawed system..

2 ( +5 / -3 )

38°C and I'm outta' there, utterly idiot judgment of others be damned. I'm contractually guaranteed personal leave to ostensibly use as I see fit. And that's what I do, especially when I feel like crap.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Just even 1 degree beyond the normal would make me absent and take some meds. When I was younger, I even worked even if it was 40's w/o any meds at all. With my advanced age and difficult job, just a bit odd would make me stop and rest.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

According to a survey though, almost 30% of respondents would still go to work with a temperature of 38°C. Doctors consider that body temperature to mean that you’re running a fever, and recommend getting some rest to allow your body to recover. But in Japan, it seems, the good of the company trumps the good of one’s own health in many cases.

... what idiot wrote this article? Clearly they didn't actually even TALK to a doctor.

Anything about 37 degrees is technically a fever. 38 degrees or above is generally indicative of a relatively serious viral infection such as influenza... or ebola.

You should be at the hospital being checked out by the doctor.

You should NOT be at work endangering the lives of your co-workers so you can sit there shivering, shaking, sweating and being unproductive -- or worse yet messing up so that your co-workers have to do overtime to fix all your mistakes.

Workplaces should fine workers who come in and risk the health of everyone in the office.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Funny how kids are complete opposites. Mothers take their pull their kids out of school and to the hospital for the smallest thing. Some doctors told me they have many regulars who come in once or twice a week.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I will never understand this mindset. Your health should be more important than your job. After all, you can't work if you're dead. I'm not going to try and paint myself as a medical expert, but there are illnesses, contagious ones at that, which can produce mild fevers similar to the common cold, but which can cause permanent damage, and in some cases even death. People should take that into consideration before deciding to "tough it". Sure, that 38.3 might only seem like a cold, but take that on a packed train and you've got yourself the beginnings of an epidemic. Wasn't there an article yesterday about Tokyo sounding the epidemic alert for Influenza? And what if it's not just the Flu that's going around? By putting your job before your health, you're putting lives at risk, not just your own. Don't forget that the elderly have weaker immune systems, and with Japan's high pensioner population, that's a disturbingly high potential death rate.

The highest fever I've ever had was 40.8 Celsius, but that was because of a spider bite, nothing contagious. Normally I don't go above 38.5 Celsius.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japan is the country where I learned that if you are sick you have to go to work. No matter what. I have a terrible cough today, with some fever, and there is no way I'll stay at home to get better... noooope, must go to work. Pretty sad country sometimes.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Well if you work in the eikaiwa industry, calling in sick is frowned upon - no matter what the condition. Also, forget sick pay... (not "off topic" by the way, guys.)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Given that people who are ill are expected to come to work regardless it follows that even if they do infect their co-workers the company won't care, as those co-workers will also be expected to come in whilst they are sick.

In fact, it's probably seen as selfish to stay at home and keep your disease to yourself when you could be spreading it to your colleagues, allowing them to share in the misery. This kind of collective punishment is widely seen as a good thing in Japan. If one suffers, we all suffer.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I am over 40 years old and have worked full time since graduating college. I have never in my recollection taken a sick day. Ghosh has blessed me. The only coworkers I ever recall taking sick days are vast majority women. This is just an observation and I do not mean to imply anything. I would however take off without hesitation if it was a physical injury, or death in the family or childbirth.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

never had any problem taking sick leave, and typically sick people in any of companies I worked for are VERY strongly encouraged to not show up to work sick because they might infect others.. even if you do show up with one of em covers but keep coffin and all you will get stares and maybe an email from hr

0 ( +0 / -0 )


The productivity of those companies will necessarily be lessened. The president and some top managers might fell happy to be in control of everyone's lives, though.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

36.9 C (98.3 F) always does it for me. Can't possibly work with misery like that....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And this is why Japanese companies need to embrace the concept of sick days / personal leave, and encourage their staff to use them. Actually encourage their staff to not infect others with their illness

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I don't have to be running a temperature at all to call in sick. If I don't feel like coming in, which is not often, I call in and say I'm sick. End of story.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If one has a cough, they will have have it for a week or 2 or months with medicine, are they supposed to take that time off? So enough of that getting people sick at work nonsense excuse. You can take any off the shell medicine and that will stop runny nose and sneezing, headaches. Done. Never taken a day sick in 10 years in Japan. If i cough, i turn away and cough in the inside of my arm. I wash hands often and make a conscience effort not to get others sick. The one time i was so sick, i ran out of class to vomit, then came back in to finish is the only day i actually felt like staying home. The principal sent me home after that class. Oh, i m hungover, im gonna take a day off. Oh, i sneezed twice, yes, im sick, im taking the dayoff. 90% of westerners takng sick days off is just out of laziness and taking advantage of the situation, and not due to actual health issues like ebola, noro virus, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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