Job Doc

Communicate to ease sick-time suspicions

Q. I finally got a new job, which I started less than two weeks ago. So what’s the problem? I had to take time off to go the dentist for an abscessed tooth, and then I had to take more time off to get the tooth pulled. I am in pain and on drugs, but I am most worried about losing my job. I told my boss how important this job is, and he said all the right things about getting better. Is there anything else I can I do so there are no doubts in his mind that I am telling the truth, and calling in sick in the future won’t be an issue?

A. Your concerns make sense. Starting a new job and making a great first impression matters. Unfortunately, people have taken advantage of sick time and some managers have become suspicious about employees using that benefit.

Whenever employees need time off, it is important to communicate with managers. Explain the situation, how long you’ll be out, and when you expect to be back at work. If you can schedule doctor appointments early or late in the day to minimize disruptions to your work schedule, do that, and let your manager know you are trying to do that.


Often employees try to take as little time off as possible. What they forget is to communicate that to their managers. Managers want to know you care about the job, your colleagues, and the impact your absence has on the operation.

Get Talking Points in your inbox:
An afternoon recap of the day’s most important business news, delivered weekdays.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Some organizations have policies requiring medical documentation. You might choose to do that even if it isn’t policy. This situation might even call for a “selfie” so your manager and co-workers can see the swollen jaw.

Developing a strong relationship with your manager based on trust, communication, and good work is an admirable goal. Talk to your boss daily about your improving situation and when you return, make sure your commitment to the job shows.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.