Should I go to work with a sore throat?

Should I go to work with a sore throat?

Missing out on work due to sickness can be annoying, particularly if it affects how much you’re paid or makes it harder to meet your deadlines on time. But unfortunately it’s sometimes necessary, both for your health and that of your colleagues, to stay at home when you’re feeling under the weather. 

Below, we discuss how you can determine whether or not you should stay at home when you’re ill. 

Can I go to work with a sore throat?

The first thing you should consider when deciding whether or not to call in sick is your employer’s sickness policy. Some workplaces, such as hospitals or care homes, may have a blanket rule on coming in with any kind of illness, so if this applies to you, you should stay at home until you’re recovered. 

But what should you do if you have no such handy guidelines to advise you? Well, we recommend asking yourself three simple questions to help you understand whether it would be safe and comfortable for everyone if you were to go into work while unwell. 

1. Is it contagious?

The first question you should ask yourself is whether or not your illness is contagious. If you work from home, contagiousness shouldn’t be a barrier to your work. Otherwise, you should consider the risk of passing on your illness to colleagues, clients, customers or other people you interact with at work – particularly if they include:

  • The elderly
  • People with chronic health conditions
  • Children
  • People who are immunosuppressed.


Some illnesses are highly contagious, and some are less so. For example, if you have strep throat, you should stay at home for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics in order to reduce the risk of passing on the infection to others.[1] If you’re not sure whether or not you’re contagious, speaking to a doctor or pharmacist can help you to identify your throat infection and whether you’re likely to pass it on.

2. How well do I feel?

If you’ve established that you’re not contagious, or you work from home, the next thing to think about when deciding whether or not to work is how you feel. Some minor ailments have very mild symptoms, while others can have a bigger impact on your day-to-day life. 

A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t feel well enough to do your usual daily activities, you should stay at home and rest until you feel better.[2] You should also stay at home if you have a high temperature.[3]

3. Can I ease the symptoms?

If you’re not contagious and you feel mostly well aside from a few distracting symptoms, you may be able to go into work if you take medicines designed to alleviate those symptoms. For example, if you have a sore throat, Chloralieve’s Honey & Lemon Throat Lozenges can ease the pain with the local anaesthetic lidocaine, as well as helping to fight off the infection causing your symptoms with its two antiseptic ingredients.[4] 

In many cases, symptomatic treatments such as throat lozenges can help you to feel well enough to get on with your daily tasks. Of course, the exact requirements of your job will likely have an impact on how fit you need to feel in order to work. For instance, having a cold while working an office job may be more manageable than having a cold while doing a more physically demanding job such as building a house.