when you’re sick, can you have someone else call your office on your behalf?

A reader writes:

My adult daughter became very sick with vomiting, diarrhea, and lower back and serious abdominal pain. I called an off-duty medical friend and was given instructions of what to do. The next morning, I awakened my daughter to give her another dosage of pain reliever. She was hoping she would be able to report to work at the beginning of her shift; however, a couple of hours prior to that time, she began feeling the same as as the night before.

I offered to call her boss. She and I both understand that, if possible, it is her responsibility to report an absence. However, is my calling not acceptable in this circumstance?

Eh, I tend to think your daughter should call in that case (or email, if that’s a thing that’s acceptable in her office for alerting people that she’ll be out sick).

Basically, if she’s able to talk to you and isn’t in the hospital, she should probably call herself. If she’s too sick to speak or is actually hospitalized, then yes, it’s totally okay for someone else to call.

To some extent, the expectation that people call for themselves unless they truly can’t is more about established convention than about logic. If we take convention out of it — which we can’t, but if we did — there’s not much reason not to let someone else do this. I suppose that in some cases, her boss might want to ask her a logistical question or two that you wouldn’t be able to answer (“where the location of the X file so I can fill in for you with the client today?” or whatever), but I think it’s more about us having decided as a society that this is a thing that you handle yourself unless you truly can’t.

That’s especially so when it’s a parent (versus, say, a spouse); there’s too much risk of having a parent call in coming across as infantilizing. I don’t get the sense that that’s how you intended it, but optics matters with this stuff. If your daughter told you not to call on her behalf (which I think might be the case, although it’s not totally clear from the letter), I’m sure that’s what she was thinking of — that as a professional adult, she should handle this stuff on her own. And that’s a good instinct to encourage in her!

{ 203 comments… read them below }

  1. TotesMaGoats*

    I once had a boss who was ACTIVELY throwing up call me to give me the needed info to take over running a day long departmental retreat. That was not awesome. Nothing like stopping mid conversation and listening to your boss yack over the phone. So, in that case, I’d have someone else call for me. Other wise, call for yourself. Or like when I passed out in the shower due to a virus and my husband emailed because I’d become photophobic.

    1. AMG*

      Yeah, uncontrollable bodily functions related to illness (food poisoning, etc.) are a damn good excuse. Serious car accidents, hospitalizations….I think that’s about it.

      1. Hillary*

        My husband called in when my father passed away unexpectedly. I was too upset to stop crying, so I’d argue that there’s at least one more good excuse.

        1. Ruthie*

          Is it serious enough for me to send flowers? If no, no one should call on your behalf, especially a parent. I would even argue if you absolutely cannot talk on the phone and your office policy is to call in sick, an email explaining you just can’t speak is better than have someone else call on your behalf.

          Reminds me of a story: I had a parent call me in an incredibly unusual situation. My intern was intellectually disabled and apparently communicated to his father that he had been left alone for hours in an empty room. The dad actually had the gall to ask if it was true. It definitely was not.

            1. Kassy*

              Same. It’s unfortunately not an unbelievable story.
              My daughter goes to daycare/preschool and her teacher is my aunt. My mom also works in the building and stops by to check on her 3-4 times a day. But still, if she came home and told me a crazy story about a bad thing happening, I would at least ask.

          1. K*

            Yeah, even if you know that something like that would never happen at your place, workers with disabilities do get mistreated often. I don’t know exactly how the conversation went down obviously, but I would absolutely do some kind of follow-up if I was a parent in that situation.

          2. Hillary*

            “Is it serious enough for me to send flowers? If no, no one should call on your behalf, especially a parent.”

            I think this sums it up perfectly, actually!

          3. Jayn*

            When DH needs to call in sick, he typically either a) has a migraine or b) barely slept the night before. In either case he will be at best barely coherent. (I HATE calling in for him, it hits a couple anxiety points for me, but I can only recall one or two instances where he was actually able to call himself in). Sometimes a person just isn’t in a physical state that lets them handle it themselves.

      2. Kit Kendrick*

        I had a friend once who had completely lost his voice text me so I could call his office for him to let them know he would be out. He was truly unable to make himself audible without a lot of pain. His office didn’t seem to think anything of it, though I suspect they thought I was a live-in girlfriend and not a remote friend responding to a text SOS.

      3. MCMonkeyBean*

        My dad had to call in for me one summer when I lost my voice. I was canvassing so speaking was pretty important and there was no point in showing up if I couldn’t.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I called in sick for my husband once, because he had gastroenteritis and was basically living in the bathroom for 24 hours. But I do think a spouse is different than a parent, as Alison noted.

  2. LisaD*

    I once had a boyfriend call for me because I couldn’t leave the bathroom and thought it was more rude to call while actively pooping…

    1. Spooky*

      I’d say that’s a good rule of thumb. If there’s anything internal audibly leaving any part of your body, maybe don’t call (though could you email? I’ve had jobs where I could email in sick, but I don’t know if that’s the norm with other companies.)

      1. Rob Lowe can't read*

        I’m so glad my current job allows me to text the boss if I’m going to be out! I did call the one day I’ve been out sick since I started there, but it’s nice to have that option in case background noise would be TMI.

    2. Sami*

      A few years ago (at age 38) I was in the hospital with double pneumonia, on oxygen as well, and with a sore throat and coughing so hard I could barely whisper. I’m not married and with no SO, my Mom called in sick for me. I had already been off sick for a few days (and then was emailing myself) and she was right next to my hospital bed, so it was natural that she did so.

      1. Jeanne*

        My mother has also called when I was hospitalized. I don’t have an SO so my mother was there. I think hospital changes all the rules.

        1. OwnedByTheCat*

          Yes, totally. If an employee’s parent or spouse (or really anyone but them) called in, I’d assume it was because they were too sick to call themselves and would be *quite* worried!

        2. Chinook*

          When I went to the ER on the way to my temp job due to kidney stones (literally had someone ask the bus to pull over and let me off and then stay with me until DH picked me up to talk me to the hospital), I called my agency once I was on pain meds, gave them basic details and then handed my phone to DH so he could work out the logistics of returning my office keys and get my timesheet in. He offered to do the entire call but, even stoned, I was mortified at the thought of not being able to at least verify that I knew he was calling on my behalf.

    3. Laura*

      HAHA I love this.

      I think it really depends on your boss. This is why it’s good to know your workplace norms! My boss is a mom with two small kids, and she worries to excess if myself or my work partner are ill. She would have no problem getting a call from my boyfriend, but I would of course avoid it if possible.

  3. CR*

    I would be completely horrified if my mother ever contacted my work on my behalf, barring hospitalization. This is not elementary school, Mommy can’t call in sick for you. Let your daughter handle her own business.

    1. badger_doc*

      I don’t know… I once had something pretty traumatic happen to me and I had my mom call my boss to say I would be out for a couple days because I probably could not have explained why without uncontrollably crying… I think there are certain situations where it is completely understood and most bosses would be very accommodating, even if it isn’t convention.

      1. KR*

        I think you could argue that this is an emergency, and the consensus seems to be that in case of an emergency or an instance where one can’t use the phone (uncontrollable crying, traumatic incident), a parent or spouse calling is okay.

    2. Artemesia*

      So this. Wait until just after you barf and have that moment of respite and call then. Grownups take care of their own business. The employee needs to do it unless they are hospitalized and truly unable to do it.

      1. Observer*

        That’s not always realistic. Even real grown ups cannot realistically take care of all of their business all of the time. Maybe you’ve been fortunate enough to have never been really unable to make a call, even though you weren’t in the hospital, but it does happen to real, generally functional adults.

        1. Chinook*

          I have to agree, Observer. There have been times, before I was married, when I have lost my voice and would have loved to have had someone call on my behalf rather than croak out basic instructions for a substitute teacher. Instead, I breathly whispered my issue to the principal so he could call someone in to cover and then I would email the day’s plans.

        2. AnonT*

          I also agree. Sometimes it’s just not reasonable to take care of all your business yourself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not unprofessional if it only happens rarely and with good reason.

          As another example: I was in a really nasty car accident a few years ago, and had to go to the ER briefly to get checked out. I didn’t get home until 3 in the morning, was so sore I could barely move, and pretty zonked out on painkillers. Rather than try to wake up, get out of bed, and pretend to be coherent through the medication at 7am when the office opened, I just had a family member call in for me first thing (my boss had to know ASAP because I was covering for two coworkers who were out, as well as doing my own job). I could have called in myself, if there was no one around and I really needed to, but the fact that I didn’t have to really helped my recovery time.

        3. blackcat*

          Yep. When I had norovirus, I couldn’t even reliably point the correct end of myself at the toilet, let alone take care of myself or speak.

          The worst ended after about 8 hours, but in that time, I was able to take care of myself/communicate to others that I was too weak/sick to do anything other than sleep and attempt to keep liquids down.

          I am so, so sorry my husband had to see that.

          1. kitty_mommy*

            There was a time that I had just started a new, temp job in a different city where I was living and I ended up hospitalized for three days. I still called my new boss to let him know. My family is all deceased, ain’t nobody to call in except for me.

            1. blackcat*

              But my point is that there are sometimes when an adult simply *can’t* call.

              I’ve been hospitalized a couple of times, and each time I was able to call other people and communicate. But never in my life have I felt as bad as those 8 hours of peak norovirus, in which had I had to call in anywhere, my husband would have had to do it. I had even had to mime “water” to my husband because I *really* couldn’t speak.

              I do hope that employers are understanding when someone no-call, no-shows under such circumstances, particularly if they call as soon as they can.

              1. TrainerGirl*


                I had my gallbladder removed 20 years ago, but I still occasionally get duct blockage attacks which are so painful that there are times when I can barely breathe, let alone talk. Thankfully, I can e-mail since my boss is in another country, but when the pain is at its peak, I’m not sure I could speak if I had to.

      2. aebhel*

        Frankly, that seems completely ridiculous. It’s a lot more unprofessional, imo, to risk vomiting while on the phone with your boss than to have someone else call you in. Although I suppose it would put any concerns about faking to rest…

      3. JessaB*

        Except if you have a call in deadline you may not be able to wait for that moment of respite. If you have to call in x hours before your shift unless it’s a complete “going to hospital” kind of emergency, and you’ve spent the last hour in the loo, sometimes you have to have someone call.

        Also I think there’s another consideration here, if a good employee who usually does their own call ins, one one occasion has anyone (friend, partner, parent, kid) call in for them because “can’t breathe, sicking up, can’t talk due to laryngitis, whatever,” I don’t think there’s any issue against that. Every boss I ever had knew that if husband was calling them it was because I was unable to communicate due to whatever was wrong with me. There were times I could barely say a word and we’d call in and I’d be like “croak this me, here husband…” and there were times I couldn’t even do that and he did the calling. After which I’d call in and talk to someone as soon as I was able.

    3. Sami*

      Meant this here:

      few years ago (at age 38) I was in the hospital with double pneumonia, on oxygen as well, and with a sore throat and coughing so hard I could barely whisper. I’m not married and with no SO, my Mom called in sick for me. I had already been off sick for a few days (and then was emailing myself) and she was right next to my hospital bed, so it was natural that she did so.

    4. Amadeo*

      My sentiments are milder, but basically the same. I had a horrid reaction to a blood pressure drug last summer and woke up the next morning in horrible abdominal pain, and while I asked my mother to drive me to the doctor, I contacted my workplace myself.

    5. Tommy*

      With respect, even though I usually wouldn’t have my spouse call in sick for me, I would hate to work with people who would be judgmental about something like that. Life’s too short to worry about what people think when they feel so strongly about a matter of such little importance.

    6. Temperance*

      I contracted a serious infection back in February and my husband had to be in contact with my work on my behalf for 4 days. They knew I was seriously ill and not coming in (ICU), but my condition was … not great, and he kept them apprised to the situation.

    7. always anon*

      I hope you feel the same way about people who have their spouses and partners to call in for non-emergency sick days. If mommy shouldn’t call in sick for you, hubby or wifey shouldn’t either.

  4. Bend & Snap*

    I had my husband call for me once when I had pneumonia and had lost my voice.

    A parent calling is weird.

    1. Anxa*

      My initial instinct is that it’s weird for a parent to call, but what about when you don’t have a roommate or spouse and you live with your parent(s)?

      I suppose you can just do the whisper-cough conversation, but then why have a spouse call if you can still communicate?

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        Maybe a way to mitigate the weirdness is for the parent to instead call themselves “a friend who came over to take care of her”?

        1. TootsNYC*

          No, I think that would be weird.

          Whoever is your closest human should call if you can’t. So, spouse, live-in partner, roommate, sweetheart, parent. If you have anyone higher on that list than a parent, I think it’s best to have them call. But if your parent is your closest human, so be it.

          I’ve had to act on behalf of my 21yo, who is kind of touchy about not being treated like a minor child. When I’ve offered to her, i’ve offered to act as a secretary. And when I called, after she agreed, I’ve been careful to say: “I’ve been asked to call on behalf of this person; I’ve been deputized.”

          So if Mom calls and says, “Sherry asked me to call you on her behalf because she is too ill to come to the phone, and therefore of course too ill to come to work. She asked me to tell you she’s really sorry, and wanted me to relay to her any questions you have.”

          So, third person, you’re not calling as Mom, you’re calling as the messenger, administrative assistant, etc.

          If you’re the sick kid, you might need to stress this to your parent.

      2. Bend & Snap*

        I was incredibly ill and not really communicating. It’s the only time in my 17 year career someone else has contacted my employer on my behalf.

        For someone very young, a parent calling wouldn’t be as strange as someone more established. I don’t have a spouse anymore either, but thankfully emailing in sick is the norm in my current role.

        1. (different) Rebecca*

          I would too, but I work at a university, not, say, a mall. There’s a firm thread of elitism running through the suggestion to just email. None of the retail jobs I’ve worked in my life have dealt with employees by email. Nor have any of the service jobs. Only the academic/professional ones. It is not always possible to just email.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But in many, many cases, it’s fine to email. It’s okay for people to suggest things that will work in some situations, even though they won’t work in all situations (see the “not everyone can have sandwiches” rule in the commenting guidelines!).

    2. Allison*

      I think because it’s considered normal to have your spouse take care of you, but it’s considered weird to have a parent take care of you when you’re an adult. Which is silly because not all adults have spouses to take care of them!

      1. EmilyG*

        Yeah, I don’t love all the assumptions about what is “normal.” I’m single and live about twelve blocks away from my retired parent. If I got really sick, I would definitely call them rather than impose on friends who may live a little closer but have their own jobs. That’s because I’m thoughtful! I mean, I probably wouldn’t call anyone unless I were seriously sick (more like the “real medical emergency” situation we’re discussing than the OP’s situation), but the idea that having a relationship where an adult child and parents rely on each other is weird or loser-ish, I just can’t get behind.

        1. Allison*

          I agree. Honestly, while I’d love to have a boyfriend who could drop everything and come take care of me, I don’t have a relationship like that right now, and I don’t have any friends I feel comfortable calling on when sick, except for maybe my roommate. If I really felt sick enough that I needed to be taken care of, I’d probably try to get myself to my parents’ house out in the suburbs.

          1. Jeanne*

            I have to rely on my parents when I’m really ill and in the hospital. Why is it ok if I had a boyfriend for him to call in but not my parent? If you’re that sick then you’re that sick. Another way to treat single women as less than.

            1. Granite*

              I don’t think folks are saying the employee’s gender matters, but I understand your complaint about single vs partnered people.

              Actually, I think the perception would be worse if the employee was a man, especially if was Mom calling rather than Dad. Momma’s boy is not usually a compliment.

              1. Tommy*

                Although, I’ve found that if you call yourself a mama’s boy, people will think it’s sweet.

                1. Allison*

                  I think, when someone brags about being a mama’s boy, people assume that means you’re the “good kind” of mama’s boy who goes out of his way to do nice things for his mom whenever he can, rather than the “bad kind” who relies on his mom for everything.

                2. Tommy*

                  Um, yeah… if Russell Wilson is doing an interview and calls himself a mama’s boy, I think many heterosexual women’s first reaction is, “Aww!!! That’s so sweet!!!” not, “Eww, gross, grow up loser!”

              2. Allison*

                Good point. I do think the reactions are a little stronger for men (momma’s boy vs. praise for having a good wife), but regardless of the gender, we tend to go “awww” when it’s a spouse being a caretaker and go “what are you, four?” when a parent steps in to help.

                If anything, this is a case where a lot of bosses assume all their employees have a spouse or SO at home to take care of things, and those who live with parents or roommates are, in a way, considered not “real adults” yet.

          2. Mononymous*

            Even having the SO doesn’t mean they would be the most logical person to call! Last summer I had a medical issue and needed to go to the ER, and I have a husband, but he was already at work and has an occurrence-based attendance policy. My parents live an hour away and also work in jobs they can’t just up and leave whenever. Instead of having any of them leave work to come drive me, I called my retired, lives-in-the-same-town MIL for help.

            (I was able to call and notify my boss myself, luckily.)

        2. Amanda*

          Heck, I am partnered, but after I had brain surgery a few months ago, my parents were much more of my caregivers than my husband. My parents are retired and my husband has a job and doesn’t have the luxury of taking six weeks off to drive me to appointments and watch me sleep.

      2. JessaB*

        It also depends on the culture, there are a lot of cultures where generational living, or loads of family being involved in everything is normal.

        1. Anxa*

          This is true.

          I’d say at least a third of my friends I grew up with live with parents. It’s not so much a longstanding cultural thing as a generational shift. The area has extremely high costs of living. There just simply aren’t affordable starter homes, and there’s also not much in terms of employment opportunities.

          It’s become very common for adult children to live at home until they are married, even those with good jobs.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Definitely. When I had my gallbladder out, someone had to come and stay with me—they would not let me go home if I were going to be alone. My mum drove over and spent the night. She left the next day when I got up that morning and went outside to yell at a barking dog. She was like “LOL you’re okay now!” (I heal fast–like Wolverine. It’s my superpower. :) )

    3. Rob Lowe can't read*

      My friend had to do this about six weeks into a new job once. She was totally mortified, especially since her boss wasn’t totally cool with it, but what was she supposed to do?

      1. Audiophile*

        Her boss was upset about her calling in sick? Why – because she was calling in at all or because she’d only been employed six weeks?

    4. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

      A parent calling is weird.

      Not if it’s an emergency and a parent is all you have.

      1. Ella*

        Yea. But if it’s not an emergency, it’s weird to have a parent, or anyone else call.

        The situation the original poster described did not strike me as an emergency.

    5. A Teacher*

      That’s pretty judgmental. Granted I’m typically able to call myself in or email where appropriate, but I had surgery about eight years ago and thought I would be able to return to work the following day. I was really out of it and had a bad reaction to the medication. I don’t have a spouse or significant other so my mom had to call in for me and let my boss know that I was a little too loopy to be calling myself. She did Tell him that I would call the next day. There are a lot of people that don’t have significant others and live alone, we’re not weird we exist.

  5. Allison*

    I’d add that if you, for whatever reason, feel you should call in on your adult child’s behalf (whether they’re in the hospital or not), you should probably acknowledge that you realize it’s an unusual thing to do but you felt it was best under the circumstances, because of reasons. Basically, you don’t want her boss to think this is your default approach to your daughter’s work absences.

    It largely depends on that procedure. If your daughter is allowed to call and leave a voicemail, she should probably try to call from her bed even if she doesn’t sound that great, because calling and leaving a VM won’t take too long. But if she has to speak to an actual person, and would need to keep calling until someone answered the phone, that might be outside the realm of what she’s able to do when sick. If she can send an e-mail, she should try to do that even if it means sending one from her personal e-mail and mobile device – I’ve definitely sent my boss an e-mail like that on my iPad or phone when I was too sick to get up and get my laptop.

    1. TootsNYC*

      “you should probably acknowledge that you realize it’s an unusual thing to do but you felt it was best under the circumstances, ”

      I wouldn’t even do this. What “I felt” is the problem for me here–it doesn’t matter what the parent felt was best–the parent is ONLY in this situation because she is acting as the agent for the employee. So “Susan asked that I call you,” and I’d avoid saying, “my daughter” as much as I could. I’d use “she” or her name as much as possible.

  6. Sara*

    I agree that in general it is best to call yourself unless you absolutely can’t, but I would say it’s something to be especially avoided with a parent/child situation. Unless, of course, we’re talking about a teenager who is babysitting or something and clearly still living at home under their parents’ roof. I would consider it fine in that case, but I have a feeling that’s not the situation here.

    1. KR*

      For more informal jobs it might be okay, but it generally comes across badly where I work. We understand if they get sick and can’t come in, but we don’t know their parents and we generally need to hear from the person themselves.

      1. Kylynara*

        When I cashiered at the local grocery store in college, our employee handbook specified that you had to call out sick yourself. If anyone else called out for you it was counted as a no show. I assume they’d make an exception if you were in a coma, but I don’t actually know that.

        It probably saved them a ton of arguing about whether or not this was a valid reason to have someone else call in, and a lot of calling in sick because the employee just wanted to do something else.

    2. anonanonanon*

      Even when I worked retail and fast food as a teenager, we were expected to call in sick ourselves instead of having our parents do it. Barring emergencies and hospitalizations, of course.

  7. Menacia*

    Definitely let the employee do the calling to their boss, if at all possible. Even with regard to losing your voice, there is always the option of sending an email. Then again, my (way too) family friendly office would probably find this perfectly okay…!

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      In some cases, sending an email might not be sufficient. At my job, there has to be coverage if I’m out, which means it’s important to get confirmation that someone received the message. If I send an email at 7:30 there’s no guarantee that it’ll be read by 8am when I have to have a sub already on the way. In which case, for a lost voice, I think the thing to do is for me to send the email and my spouse/roommate/parent call to say “Elizabeth is sick and has lost her voice and can’t come in today. She sent you an email with more information.”

      Though, with my boss, I can also text her to make sure I get a reply before she gets to her office.

      1. KR*

        I wonder if her work would understand if she couldn’t follow protocol exactly if she was really sick. We can only guess.

    2. (different) Rebecca*

      See my above comment about how it is NOT always an option to send an email… Seriously, this blog isn’t an office-job-only blog. There are people who read her who work retail and would no more have their manager’s email than they would their manager’s shoe size.

        1. Ella*

          Yea. My thought is if you know the advice wouldn’t work for you, just don’t follow it. Not all advice can be one size fits all!

  8. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    You may recall that at one time, I reported a co-worker – who was threatened with firing for “being sick” – and I was being reprimanded for sending him home, his wife called to report he was in ICU. In that case, yes, someone else should call in.

    I was also reminded of the time I taught a college course – and one student (lady) was going to be out – she had planned her wedding and honeymoon around a holiday break in the course – and would miss one class – no problem.

    Then she never showed up. Then two weeks later I get a call from her mother – reporting that she went into diabetic shock while she was on her honeymoon, etc. — I changed her grade from a W(ithdraw) to I(ncomplete) and I was going to teach the same course the next semester – I sent her a syllabus – circled the week she should show up – she did not have to re-register, etc.

    It worked out. The only thing she asked me was that she had to eat at regular intervals and can she bring a sandwich to class? OF COURSE. Y’see when I was 15-16, I had a friend and she went through the exact same thing. I understood.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Yeah, I think it’s good to have someone (spouse, parent, child, neighbor) call rather than leaving the employer wondering if someone was left for dead.

      We had a guy have a “mental break” at the end of last year. No one heard from him for weeks. It would have been good to know what had happened sooner, for business reasons and because we were just wondering if he was okay.

  9. Ella*

    Yea, it’s definitely odd for a parent to call, unless it’s an emergency (like, hospitalization). Outside that, it’s really odd, and, as Alison said, infantilizing.

  10. KR*

    I agree that it would seriously come across as infantilizong if you called in for her. I supervise a lot of teens and young adults and it does not leave a good impression when their parents call in for them or pick up applications for them or come into play in the workplace somehow so it would be only worse for your adult daughter I think. In the absolute worst case scenario if she’s able to talk to you but can’t talk clearly or use technology (I’ve been sick where I can’t look at screens without getting violently dizzy), I think it would be appropriate to log into her email with her there and have her dictate a short email to her boss explaining that she can’t talk on the phone and will be out for the day, more information to follow, yada yada (if that’s acceptable where she works).

    1. Security SemiPro*

      I deeply disagree with giving anyone else your password to dictate email. No one other than you should have your access to your work’s equipment and systems.

      That said, email the boss from a personal account, they’ll still get it. Or call. Emergencies are emergencies, and you make do with what you have. Yes, I’d prefer to hear from the employee themselves and for run of the mill colds and crud, aquick email works fine. But sometimes, Jane has been in a car accident and is still in the hospital, or can’t look at screens or talk without throwing up, and I’d rather hear that Jane is alive by whatever means necessary.

      1. KR*

        I was referring to if her email auto logs into her phone or laptop. For instance I could hand my roommate my phone where the email auto logs in and she could draft an email for me if I were too sick to speak clearly or email myself. Most people have this kind of set up on their phone or computer from what I understand. Also, I didn’t recommend logging into their work email system specifically. They’re still good suggestions,but not what I was actually saying.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, in our workplace giving someone the password to your work email is explicitly against policy. In some places it’s a firing offense. So, no that’s NOT a good idea.

    2. Observer*

      I hope you don’t expect your teen agers to actually do that! I get that you don’t want parents “parenting” their kids when they are at work. But expecting them to give someone their password so they can pretend that their parent doesn’t exist is just a terrible idea. It would actually worry me far more than a parent calling in, especially if the explanation was “Employee asked me to call because they can’t sit up or talk.” or something like that and it was for a good employee. The idea that an employee thought it was a good idea to give someone their password – and to do that in order to fool me – is not a positive one.

  11. Evie*

    I’ve had my husband call once while I was in the middle of a horrible migraine. If I won’t lie perfectly still and not think about anything I vomit. It was retail and I knew they wouldn’t care. And I sent an email for being out for my husband once because he was in the ER and couldn’t use his phone so I took it outside to send from his phone. I could have just pretended to be him since it was email but I signed my name.

    1. Jeanne*

      Unfortunately, having your husband call is considered so much better than having your mother call. It just is. So those of us not married are considered infantilized for having a parent call in and you’re not because he’s your husband.

      1. Temperance*

        I never thought of it, but you’re so right – there absolutely is a huge double standard.

      2. Allison*

        I alluded to this upthread, but I’ve caught on to the idea that you’re not really considered a “real adult” until you’re married, or you’re at least living with an SO and “on track” to get married. If you’re in your late 20’s and still living with your parents or with roommates, your older colleagues and/or manager (consciously or subconsciously) might not take you seriously as a “real adult” because you haven’t hit certain milestones yet.

      3. Case of the Mondays*

        I see it differently. If your husband calls, it is because he is already there and you didn’t have to call someone to call for you. If your mom is there, you presumably had to call your mom to get her there. If you could call your mom, you could call your office.

        1. anonanonanon*

          Or, you know, that person lives with their parents so that’s why they were there to make the call.

        2. AnonT*

          Well, except that logic doesn’t hold up for the many (many, many) young adults who still live with their parents. For them, the parent is already there. Also, if you’re in a work situation where you can’t email/text in sick, but you can’t speak on the phone for whatever reason, you could still email or text your parent to call for you. You don’t have to talk to them on the phone.

        3. Tiffin*

          Luckily, I can text or e-mail if I’m going to be out. However, say I was too sick to talk for whatever reason but my job required that you report when you’re going to be out by phone ONLY. In that situation, I could text my parents (or a nearby friend) and ask for help, but I wouldn’t be able to call work.

          I’ve lost my voice to the point where I couldn’t even croak or whisper. I literally couldn’t make any noise. I would have had to have someone call out for me if I couldn’t e-mail or text because calling and then sitting silent on the phone isn’t going to help anything.

        4. Observer*

          As others noted, some people actually live with their parents (or their parents live with them.) Beyond that, sometimes you can make one short call, so you call the person who can help you, not your office. And sometimes you can text a parent, but not work. Or, as was mentioned elsewhere, if you’re vomiting your head off or the like, it’s one thing to call a parent and another to call work with that going on.

          So, no, don’t assume that just because it’s a parent calling, this is a person who is childish and / or is not familiar with workplace norms.

    2. BSD*

      I fairly regularly get migraines with transient aphasia and my boss knows that in those cases he should expect a phone call from whoever’s around — sometimes my roommate, sometimes a parent (depending on where I’m staying). Luckily we have a good working relationship and it’s just one of those things. As far as I’m concerned having a parent call is way more professional than picking up the phone myself and sounding as if I’m speaking in tongues. And email’s a no-go, as in that situation I can barely reliably spell my name!

  12. lionelrichiesclayhead*

    True story: When I was 17 I called out sick from my summer retail job at a small boutique by calling my boss and pretending to be my mother. The story was that I was too sick from food poisoning to call so she was calling for me. The kicker is that my boss actually said, “wow you sound just like LionelRichiesClayHead” and I had to play along like “yeah everyone says we sound alike”. My boss either believed it or was too amazed at my complete stupidity that she never said anything about it.

    Needless to say, it’s completely MORTIFYING to think back on.

    1. KTB*

      That would have worked perfectly in my family. My mom, sister, and I sound virtually alike over the phone. Even family members would have to guess which one of us actually answered the phone when we all lived under the same roof.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        My mom, sister, and I all sound pretty similar even in person; over the phone, even more so. My brother in law said that, for a short time after he and my sister started spending time around our family, he had to be looking at us to see which one of us was talking.

        1. Jaime*

          Ha! My dad is the same way with me, my mom, and my sister. He has a standard greeting that he uses with all of us, and then he waits to see how we phrase what we say, which usually makes it obvious which one of us it is within 30 seconds.

      2. Ghost Town*

        My mom, sister, and I all sound a like on the phone. When my mom’s siblings would call our home phone, they’d all have to guess at who answered the phone, unless it was my dad.

    2. Augusta Sugarbean*

      I prefer to think that I just popped into existence about ten years ago rather than recall all the dumb things I did when I was younger. Nope! Never happened! Not me! lalalalalala

  13. Ultraviolet*

    Does anyone think that the parent in this situation could get away with just saying, “Your employee Jane asked me to call and let you know she can’t come in today. Unfortunately she was too sick to make the call herself.” or something along those lines, without saying who they actually are? Is that too weird?

    1. Juli G.*

      Something about that strikes me as oddly formal. I would assume you were holding Jane hostage (okay, I wouldn’t assume that but I would totally think it for a second).

      1. Ultraviolet*

        Ha, I wouldn’t be SURE you were holding Jane hostage, but…. :)

        I skew kind of stuffy and formal in real life too. What would you think if the caller said, “Hi, I’m calling for Jane–she’s out sick today and she’s actually too sick to make the call herself”?

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’d phrase it as “I’m calling for Jane Smith. She’s too sick to talk on the phone, and she asked me to let you know she can’t come in today.”

  14. Lore*

    Since I’ve now completely lost my voice on three separate occasions in the past few years (two flu, one strep), and I live alone, I am super grateful emailing in sick is acceptable at my workplace! (I used to think losing’s one’s voice was hyperbole for hoarseness. Now I know better. I get a couple of days of 100 percent silence.)

    1. Allison*

      I once had to take care of myself with strep, and it was the worst! My whole family was down south looking at colleges with my sister, my boyfriend was somewhere in the midwest for a bachelor party, I was home alone but so out of it I couldn’t remember my doctor’s name, so I had to call my mom to see if she remembered. Then I had to call the office to make an appointment for later that day, drive myself there, check in, and talk to the doctor when I could barely make a sound! I cried more than once that day. I don’t normally need to be taken care of when I’m sick but holy crap strep is tough to manage when you’re on your own.

      Luckily my job at the time had an online swap board so I could easily get someone to cover my shift without making a sound.

      1. Amadeo*

        Yeah, I don’t often feel the need to ask for help either. I was pretty cranky with the flu one year and was awful to my mother demanding help to get to the doctor in the throes of a 104 degree fever (I apologized profusely once the NSAID kicked in and it was down to 99). And the one time last summer where I was being screwed with by a BP med that had either dehydrated me so badly I was having woozy spells, or was lowering my BP so much I was having woozy spells and it was coupled with severe abdominal pain. I was meeker then, but I had to ask her to take me to the doctor.

        1. Lore*

          Oh, the epic journey of the first of those flu bouts was awful. I only discovered after being sick for four days (and astonishingly sicker on day 4, which is when I lost my voice, my tonsils swelled up, and I started coughing up bright orange phlegm) that my primary care doctor had stopped accepting my insurance as of January 1 and no one had notified the patients yet. I couldn’t talk, so I couldn’t call anywhere to make a new appointment. I live alone, I was single at the time, my family is 200 miles away. At the time, the only urgent care center my insurance took (or the only one I could find on their website with 102 fever) was in midtown Manhattan; I live in Brooklyn. But I also couldn’t figure out how to call a cab (this is just long enough ago to be pre-smartphone for me) with no voice, so I dragged myself onto the subway, figuring that was better than standing on a bitterly cold street corner trying to hail a cab in the middle of the day in Brooklyn. I did make it there, though I have very little memory of the experience…and I am constantly grateful that there is now a CityMD around the corner from my apartment.

      2. Agile Phalanges*

        I got strep when I also had a cast on my leg and couldn’t drive. With the fever and all, I was too weak to use crutches or even hop, so I literally crawled back and forth to the bathroom while I was sick. I knew exactly what I had since I got it from my poor kiddo who’d had it the week before, and knew I needed antibiotics. So I had to call a cab, scooch down the stairs from my apartment, get into the cab, get into the doctor’s office, etc. They’d given my son a shot the week before, so I knew that was an option, saving me the trip to the pharmacy. Strep is awful, for sure.

    2. Karine76*

      Thank god for social media. I’ve sent DMs to my boss on Facebook to let her know I’d be late or was sick. But I’d also call and leave a message on her answering machine. But at my office it’s acceptable to let anyone know you’re not coming in or will be late, especially since not everyone is in at 7am so sometimes so I sometimes text or DM my colleagues to let them know. If I need to leave instructions, I email.

      1. Audiophile*

        I guess there IS a reason to be connected with your boss on social media. I’m not connected to mine, really don’t want to be. She makes enough things public that I see no reason.

        I have texted her the one time I was out sick. My boss let her boss know via email since my boss was out on a scheduled day off.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have my boss’s phone numbers–both her work and cell. I can text if I can’t talk, and she can text me in an emergency. Neither one of us abuses this. Facebook? Nope, but phone numbers are okay.

          1. Audiophile*

            Exactly. I have her cell phone number and she has mine and that’s more than enough. I don’t need to be connected with her on Facebook.

    3. Chinook*

      “(I used to think losing’s one’s voice was hyperbole for hoarseness. Now I know better. I get a couple of days of 100 percent silence.)”

      When I was teaching, every October for 5 years straight I would have no sound coming out my throat for two days but was perfectly healthy otherwise (i.e. no fever, no aches or other symptoms). It seemed to be my body’s way of fighting all the germs found in a junior high environment. But, since a teacher of teens without a voice is a lame duck when it comes to classroom discipline, I would have to call in sick (which really sucks when you live in a teacherage right next to the school – I had to plan carefully when I walked the dog so I didn’t look like I was “skipping.”).

    4. calonkat*

      Our workplace actually encourages emailing sick leave notifications. With email, it’s easy to copy everyone who needs to know (supervisory staff, assistants, anyone you have meetings with). With a phone call, only the recipient gets it, then it’s another step to email “the standard people”, who may not be the people who really need to know that day!

  15. Granite*

    I had my wife call me in sick once, when I was in the ER with a bad broken bone and high on painkillers.

    And when I had major surgery (scheduled), she also contacted my manager to let them know I was out of surgery and doing fine. Again, because I was high on painkillers.

    I’d say that having your Mom call is the biggest issue when you’re in your 20s. Younger than that and people will generally understand you can’t control your Mom. Over 30, most folks will assume you are really sick if Mom is there taking care of you. In your 20s, eh, doesn’t send a great message.

    1. Undine*

      +1 I’m 57 and I had my dad email for me when I was in the hospital (I don’t have a work phone number for my boss). I had actually emailed in the morning — I’m going to the ER! — but after they admitted me, I had to phone my dad and spell out my boss’s email address over the phone, so he could let her know I was still out. Eventually I figured out the huge screen in the hospital had a keyboard and internet and could do my own emailing.

      I also phoned in for my sister, but “she lost some limbs and is in a hospital oversees” is the poster child for having someone else call. I had several conversations with the boss, working out leave and so on. I don’t think she called them till she came back to the US.

        1. Undine*

          She was able to go back to work after about 9 months. It was a government job, so she could use the leave bank, where other employees donate leave, and obviously they have to have good accommodation for the disabled. Obviously it’s life changing, but she worked really hard at rehab and went on with her life.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking (as an over-30 single person!). The more established you are as an adult, the less risk that people will think you’re some kind of baby.

      1. Allison*

        Yeah, when you’re in your 20’s, your age alone puts you at risk for not being taken seriously as an adult, so you do have to be extra careful about signaling maturity and responsibility to the people around you.

  16. Rachel*

    I agree — it would be odd for my workplace to have a parent call and our handbook actually states that unless it is an emergency, the employee must. That being said, I did have an emergency appendectomy and had to have my husband call for me since I was being wheeled into emergency surgery. But I called to follow up as soon as I was able to.

  17. shep*

    I can definitely see scenarios in which a parent could call in for their adult child, but they are few and far between. Aside from the obvious hospitalization/otherwise very understandably indisposed, I’ve had episodes of nausea where even attempting to speak nearly set off another bout of vomiting. If a workplace required an actual verbal notice that I’d be out sick, I could definitely see having someone else call in for me in that case. But I’d also expect that person to explain that I was actively sick in the restroom and couldn’t talk, because it would be a little weird.

  18. Juli G.*

    I’ve only had a non-employee call in twice – once because the employee had a stroke and could not speak or write coherently and once because the employee was incarcerated.

    1. Phyllis B*

      Yes, I had to call my son’s employer one time and let them know he wouldn’t be in for at least a week because he was in jail. Luckily, they were understanding and didn’t fire him (he’s a really good worker and well-liked) but it still felt weird having to “call out” for my adult child.

  19. hbc*

    I think the criterion for contacting work on someone else’s behalf is if most people would consider it a serious hardship to follow the procedure. No one would expect your one phone call from jail to be to your boss, so your sister or your dad or your roommate calling in is okay. (The reason for being in jail might be an issue, of course.) Lost your voice and the procedure is to call, sure, get someone else to do it. In the ICU, hallucinating, and/or in constant crippling pain? Sure.

    But if your daughter is lucid enough to have that conversation with you, she can make the call/send the text/whatever.

  20. Jess*

    My husband has called me off work twice in the eight years we’ve been together: once when I was in labor and once when I’d cut the crap out of my hand making a sandwich in the morning and at 9am when my workday stared I was in the middle of getting it stitched up at urgent care. All the other times I did it myself.

  21. De Minimis*

    At a previous job, family were only allowed to call if you were in the hospital–I think that may be common with federal/quasi-federal employers [I’ve had two of those, they both had the same policy.]

    My current job, people just e-mail…

  22. justsomeone*

    I am so grateful for the ability to text my boss that I’m sick, or just email her and my grandboss if it’s a day my boss is OOO.

    1. Faith*

      Yeah, being able to text or just email was very convenient when I had to let my boss know that I will not be showing up for work for the next 12 weeks because I went into labor that night (two and a half weeks before my due date). Having to make a phone call that day would have been super awkward.

      1. Chinook*

        “Having to make a phone call that day would have been super awkward.”

        I don’t know. I think the background noise of someone telling you to breath combined with grunting and mild swearing and your current pregnancy might have been enough information. If you timed it right, you may not even had to complete the sentence before your boss tells you she understands. :)

  23. Armchair Analyst*

    One of my weirdest experiences ever was speaking to my husband’s boss about his medical leave of absence… because of his mental breakdown, because she was driving him crazy (so to speak). I had to remind myself that SHE had the boundary issues — she even employed her own husband, and her mother!

  24. WIncredulous*

    I Emailed my boss when I was in the hospital. She didn’t believe me, initially. I was on heavy pain meds . . . So I didn’t care then. It might be better if someone else does it, I say.

  25. Lily in NYC*

    hahaha, I remember trying to call in sick to my summer high school job – I could barely talk and my boss thought it was a “heavy-breather” calling her and hung up on me twice. I had my mom call the third time and they had a good laugh at my expense.

    1. Almond Milk Latte*

      The same thing happened to me – Except they hung up on my mom after telling them I needed to call myself. Jerks.

  26. LadyCop*

    My father once called on my behalf because I was in the hospital after a car accident and was too busy with a doctor removing glass from my ear. Ironically they were cool about it, said take all the time you need, and then 10 days later fired me because I wasn’t well enough to work yet. For the record, I had whiplash and third degree burns.

  27. Almond Milk Latte*

    I once fell asleep while calling off of work. In hindsight, I should’ve had my dad call, but hey, at least they believed I was really sick.

  28. NK*

    I think this depends a little bit on your relationship with your boss and your overall reputation for reliability and professionalism.

    Thinking back to my single days, I very rarely called in sick and had a reputation for being highly reliable and professional. So if my mom had to make a call for me, I think my boss would have trusted that it was necessary and not a normal way I operated. I also had a good relationship with him, which would have also helped. If you’re less established in your job or not known for your reliability, or don’t have a great relationship with your boss, I think a sick call from a parent could be viewed poorly.

    1. White Mage*

      “I think this depends a little bit on your relationship with your boss and your overall reputation for reliability and professionalism.”

      I agree. When I was in my mid-20s living at home, I went to the ER one night with what ended up being appendicitis. I was so insanely sick and was going in for tests first thing the next morning, so I asked my mom to call in for me. Once I was admitted that afternoon and given some anti-nausea medication, I called them myself to give them an update. I don’t think my work thought twice about my mom calling in for me.

    2. Kelly Kelly*

      I agree. I once had a viral infection that just had to run its course the Dr said, but I was in and out of conscious, so my mom called in for me. I was right there but with a temp of 100 I wasn’t there mentally.
      But texting is great. I had projectile vomiting, sucks as an adult, you have to clean up yourself. I tested my boss, middle of the night and was able to rest assured that once I was able to get to sleep, I could rest not having to wait for opening in the morning.

      1. TootsNYC*

        “sucks as an adult, you have to clean up yourself.”

        THE absolute worst thing about being an adult.

        You spend all this time and energy saying, “I’ll do it myself”—and then you HAVE to.

        You think “having to pay your own rent” is a pain? Cleaning up is worse.

    3. Sibley*

      Apparently I have a reputation for getting my work done. The one time I’ve asked for help, I had it within 5 minutes.

      Though I have texted and emailed in sick in the past, as well as called. Just depends. Never had anyone else do it for me though.

  29. Jeanne*

    This used to be even more difficult. We used to have no email and no cell phones. My first job, I was living with my parents for a month to save up money for an apartment. It was a long drive. I had a flat tire, 6:30am in the rain. I begged some scary guy in a home with lights on to let me call AAA and my mom. She brought me her car and I started driving. She stayed while the truck changed the tire and then went home and called my work. (Long distance call, couldn’t ask scary guy for that.) Otherwise I would have been late with no call.

    I think a reasonable boss will stay reasonable if you do. Have someone else contact if you really can’t. Do it yourself if at all possible. An unreasonable boss will hold it against you even if you’re in a coma.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh God, I remember those days. When we were teenagers, my sister and I were driving around in the middle of nowhere once and had car trouble. We had to go to a strange house to call our dad. And it happened to me again when driving home in the late 1990s in a rural area–my car just died and would not start again and I had to hike up the road in the dark and knock on some random people’s door to call my partner. Ugggggh. I can’t imagine having to call in to work in that situation.

  30. Temperance*

    I recently had a fluke medical emergency and texted my boss because I couldn’t speak understandably, and then she called me and asked to speak to my husband (knowing that I physically couldn’t talk). Booth had to be my point of contact with work for 4 days because I was sedated.

    Otherwise … I would have been calling myself.

  31. Pam Adams*

    I will say, as someone who has worked with people who clearly should have stayed home with their germs, that I appreciate people calling out, and not giving me whatever caused the diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

    1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

      Right. I think one of the new people in our office gave us all strep – nice.

  32. Barney Stinson*

    My first gig in HR was as a generalist in manufacturing. When a wife would call in for her husband, we would all roll our eyes. Don’t ever have anyone call in for you unless you’re dead, in a coma, or in surgery. It makes you look like you’re trying to pull something over on your boss, at best. At worst, it makes you look like a kid whose mom is calling you out on an excused absence for school.

    1. Ella*

      Yes, this: “it makes you look like a kid whose mom is calling you out on an excused absence for school.”

    2. Elfie*

      My husband’s place of work has a policy that you can’t email in sick, you can only call. He can’t hear on the telephone. I’ve phoned in sick for him lots of times until they accommodated his disability by letting him email in. Which was fine. Until I heard that his boss at the time kept the phone recordings and perved over my voice. Nice.

  33. other rick*

    I once got a concussion at home in the middle of a Sunday night, complete with broken nose and lots of blood from a head wound, and realized I’d be spending a couple of days in the hospital. My wife was laughing hysterically–she has a weird response to crises–so while I was waiting for EMTs, I called my supe at work and left a voicemail explaining the situation in a manner I thought was calm and concise.

    I was out for three days, and when I returned to work Thursday, my supe proudly played the voicemail message I had left for him at 3 am. It was neither calm nor concise. Fortunately, I was doing well enough by then that I could laugh along with him.

    1. Perse's Mom*

      Yeah… my brother called our mutual boss once after I’d been hospitalized with a concussion. I wasn’t ‘myself’ for days afterward, so it was far better for him to call and explain the situation after interpreting my rambling and mumbling than it was for me to have verbal diarrhea at my boss over the phone*.

      *Email wasn’t acceptable in our office at the time, we were required to call.

  34. Tizzy Lizzy*

    I agree parents should only call in rare circumstances.

    My dad had to phone for me once. I had severe tonsillitis and my employer was unable to understand (or even know it was me phoning in!) when I tried to explain what was happening.

  35. Anon Accountant*

    My mom had to call me in sick when I had emergency surgery. I think if you’re really sick (passing out, in surgery, etc.) then call off yourself or email if possible. Even text if you can manage that.

  36. Nedra*

    In my first year as a teacher, I got mono and was out for several weeks. My throat hurt so much I could barely squeak into the phone, but the procedure was that I had to wake up and call in *every morning* that I was out and tell them that I wouldn’t be in that day. Even though I did this every day, the attendance manager on the other end would often say, “I can’t hear you…could you speak up? There’s someone on the phone but I can’t hear what she’s saying…” Same person every day. I still can’t believe they didn’t have a way for me to email them — or for them to simply assume that I was out until my return date could be scheduled. This was 2007 — not exactly the Stone Age but looking back on it it seems archaic.

    1. Nedra*

      I should add that I would definitely have had someone help me call in under those circumstances, but I didn’t have anyone who could have done that for me.

      My husband has called in sick for me once, but it was when I had fainted.

  37. Minister of Snark*

    The only time my husband has ever called in sick for me or vice versa was when it was physically impossible for me to call in for myself. (Or as another poster put it, too embarrassing because of bathroom issues.) For instance, I worked up until the day before I had our daughter. I went into labor at 5 am and I was fully engaged in the panting/contraction/cursing phase by the time I was supposed to report for work. So DH called in an said, “That woman you hear screaming in the background will not be at her desk for 6-8 weeks.” My boss said good luck and that was that.

    On the other hand, DH once went to the hospital with vicious food poisoning (never trust a church pot luck) and was literally unconscious in a hospital bed. I called his boss to let him know DH was an in patient and wouldn’t be in the office for a few days. His boss was a little dubious about that, and asked that I have DH call when he was awake. As soon as DH called and verified that he was calling from the hospital, his boss took it much more seriously. In general, if it’s at all possible for the sick person to call, they should do so when they can.

  38. eplawyer*

    Ehh, unless the caller signs off as “Epstein’s mother” I don’t care who would call in to notify me that an employee was out sick.

    Unless absences are a problem with that employer, I am going with the person is really sick. That’s all I need to know. If I need further information, I can ask for it to be relayed.

  39. Purple Jello*

    If the employee has frequent absences, and/or always has her/his mom or make the call, then I’d be concerned. An occasional call in by a parent – probably not a problem unless there were other issues going on with the employee.

  40. Liz T*

    There is a logical component–others aren’t AUTHORIZED to call you in sick.

    To make an extreme example: in Black Swan an emotionally controlling mother called her daughter in sick and just let her oversleep. You don’t always know who you’re talking to, what their motives are, or even simply whether they have the right information.

    1. Shannon*

      I can recall at least one murder case I’ve read where the murderer called in sick for the person he killed, pretending to be their boyfriend. Bought him a few days for no one to notice her absence.

  41. Programmer 01*

    I swear, transitioning to a job that actually used email in a reliable way was such a lifesaver if I had to report in OOO — same goes for my doc office, which now takes appointments (and cancellations) by email so I can give them as much notice as possible. There are plenty of times where I’m just not lucid enough due to my pain meds to communicate on the phone. With old job, I had to set an alarm for when they’d open and accept phonecalls, take a half dose, have anxiety/pain nightmares for the next however many hours, make the call, then finally be able to take enough pain meds to either sleep or stop hurting and not worry about being lucid. Meanwhile, I can send a short email from my phone at some point during the night prior. Messages on voicemail, in my experience, tend to not get listened to until at least halfway through the day, if at all.

    (I apparently booked an appointment on a bad day last week because they called and my brain works on autopilot — I thought it was a dream until I saw the call log. So I had to call back and say “Sooo I see we spoke earlier today for 7 minutes… could you maybe tell me what all that was about?”. Fortunately, it was a pain clinic referral, so they understood, hah!)

    On the other hand, I make calls on a regular basis for my best friend, because he’s Deaf, and people are total donkeys about TTY or relay/711 services. We’ve just found it’s easier for me to ask if he left his coat at a bar, or to cancel an appointment somewhere, than go through the whole “No seriously this is not a scam this is a legit federal service and the person is Deaf so stop hanging up and listen damnit” relay operators go through on a daily basis. I know — I used to be one! Fortunately, his work actually has email and will accept texts from him, but this was a major point of concern for him before he got the job, or if he ever changes jobs.

  42. Boo*

    I absolutely understand what people are saying about not having a parent call in, but (you just knew that was coming didn’t you) there does seem to be a slightly unfair attitude (not here, just generally) that it is worse than having a partner call in. To my mind, if you can’t physically call in yourself for whatever reason (and I think that is a judgement call for you as an adult) then there is nothing infantalising about having a parent call in as opposed to an SO. A lot of people who are fully functional adults are not married but close to their folks, or at least close enough that family would be with them to help them while they’re sick/grieving etc, and if that’s the case then there’s nothing weird about a parent calling in.

    The place where I work now is very laid back. When I was off for two weeks with tonsillitis (which I know sounds pathetic but I have seriously never been so ill in my life) I texted my managers to let them know what was going on since I’m single and live alone, and no way was I exposing my elderly mother to whatever I felt like I was dying of. I did also have to get a doctor’s note but only because of how long I was off. My bosses were cool with it.

  43. Annie*

    Unless you’re unconscious, or in a coma, call in sick yourself! It is so infantile to have your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/mother/grandmother, etc. call in sick for you! Is this a generational thing? You are an adult responsible for yourself, c’mon!

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      You’re kidding, right?! Have you read ANY of the comments here? Have some empathy!

  44. B*

    No joke, I think I know Number 2. Or someone who thinks exactly the same way. He was extremely aggressive in his phone interview, and not a strong candidate (also entry level). He called a week later and I told him we were going to go with other candidates who were better suited for the position. He goes: “WHY????!!!!!” I say that we have a strong group of candidates, blah blah and he tells me NO, he is the BEST person for the job and WHY DID I REJECT HIM. I say the same thing again firmly, he is not right for the position and he starts yelling at me, to the point where I cut off his tirade and say that I don’t need to explain myself to him, but thanks for the interest, and hung up.

    He called back 10 times in a row, and then left me a two minute voicemail on how rude I am and how he DESERVES the right to know why I would DARE reject such a great candidate. Very patronizing and rude. I ignore it.

    He calls again and demands to know why I am avoiding his calls. I say “If you call us one more time and harass us, I am calling the police.” Thank God that finally did the trick.

    So yeah, I wouldn’t advise ever applying again to somewhere that wanted to call the authorities on you.

  45. RS*

    I agree, don’t have your parent/friend/SO call you in sick unless you absolutely can’t help it. Everyone commenting saying “unless you’re hospitalized”.. I was unexpectedly hospitalized last year and had to call in sick and still did it myself, from my hospital bed, on pain meds! It’s not impossible. Unless you’re in a coma, call your boss yourself.

    1. Observer*

      Just because YOU were able to call yourself in YOUR particular circumstances doesn’t mean that it is always possible or advisable.

      Sure, it’s not something to be done routinely or lightly, but this kind of absolutism is just utterly out of touch with reality.

  46. Nicole Michelle*

    Oh man some of these comments…ha! I broke my arm in January and the morning I broke my arm, I was in so much pain. I may have been able to speak but it hurt so bad I could NOT call in on my own or email. I didn’t care if my boss thought it was infantile, if it was immature, PSH. For the first time in my working career, my mom called in for me to tell my boss I broke my arm. Sometimes you really need someone else to call in for you!

    1. Nicole Michelle*

      To follow up on my own comment, later that morning I DID call my boss back after things got fixed up to let her know what happened. But still that initial call, wouldn’t have been able to come from me.

  47. Cori*

    I’ll be honest. When an employee has a family member call in, my first instinct is to be suspicious. From the outside it looks like they are avoiding contacting me directly – especially since they are allowed to text a call-in. With a few employees, it happened once and once never a problem. But in general, most employees who have done this regularly have usually had other absence issues.

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