Calling in sick has developed into an art form for a few employees, but most of us call in sick occasionally and, in fact, many employers provide time for sick and personal days. You must follow the proper protocol of your work organization, as outlined in your employee handbook, or you could get dinged with an unexcused absence.
The rules are fairly clear, but they were more understandable before PTO rules came into effect. Paid Time Off (PTO) rules are somewhat more stringent in that some employers can write you up even if you bring in a written Doctor's excuse.
If your company has PTO rules, you must read the employee handbook to find out exactly what your PTO allowances are. Generally, you have to establish your PTO schedule before you can take the time off. After I read the fine print, I found an employee write up was at the employer's discretion even with a Doctor's excuse.
What to do
Do call in at least half an hour before your shift starts or at least within half an hour after it begins. Late call ins appear suspicious.
Do call your direct supervisor or designated person when calling in sick.
Do let the supervisor know of any critical reports or calls that need follow-up in your absence.
Do let the supervisor know if your absence will be prolonged for more than one day.
Do give your phone number to your supervisor and let him know you'll be available for questions.
If you have personal or sick days (instead of PTO) follow the same rules as above for calling in sick. If you will not be available even for a portion of the day, it's a matter of courtesy to let your supervisor know this.
Don't call in two hours after your work shift has begun. Make sure you call in on time.
Don't make up excuses if you are not sick. It's better to say something such as, "I am feeling poorly, that's all I know at this point."
Sometimes a mental health day is necessary, but do not say you're calling in because you are over stressed. This could work against you.
Don't make excuses for work that is unfinished when you call in sick. Don't even mention it unless it has a critical deadline.
Calling in sick is not usually a problem unless you over do it and/or the office is severely understaffed. Under staffing is a common occurrence in some industries, but it isn't your fault and you shouldn't feel like you need to take the blame when you are absent.
Don't argue with your supervisor about your absences. Keep your own personal log of sick and personal days, and keep copies of approved time off. Supervisors make reporting mistakes and if these are found, sometimes they tell falsehoods to cover their own interests. Even when you are correct, you need the documented proof.