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No matter how long you have lived and worked in Minnesota, winter can take its toll on you, mentally and physically. People can experience difficulty sleeping, depression, and standard colds and flu that never seem to go away.

As such, many workers are probably thinking about sick days. Can they take one? Should they take one?

What the rules say

First, it is important to recognize that under Minnesota law, employers are not required to provide sick leave for workers, unless they are located in St. Paul or Minneapolis, with other cities potentially following suit. That said, most companies do offer some allowance for a worker to take time off if he or she is ill. It may not be paid time off, but it is often available.

Hopefully your employer has published an Employee Handbook that provides helpful guidelines on how many sick days you are alotted and what type of advance notice you need to give, and to whom.

Then vs. now

Even if a workplace offers paid sick days, Americans are increasingly using fewer of them.

As this article describes, employees are more likely to be able to (and encouraged to) stay home when feeling sick, but still be productive. This is possible through smartphones and arrangements allowing people to work from home.

Instead of taking a sick day, people can stay home and still respond to emails, attend meetings virtually and stay on top of projects.

Examining your options

Of course, a work-from-home solution is not realistic for everyone. There are some occupations where people must show up to perform their duties. Further, not every company has the capabilities to set up an employee to work remotely.

Understand, too, that for many people, a sick day is about more than recovering from a cold or just feeling lousy. For some, sick days are necessary for long-term medical conditions or to care for a loved one.

In these situations, know that there may be more time available than a sick day. You could be eligible for other types of leave, like that available under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or as an ADA accommodation. To learn more about these and other leave options, you can talk to your employer or an employment law attorney.