Monday, May 30, 2011

On Being Sick in Brazil

The weather is getting colder (somewhat) here, and with it comes sickness. Colds, the flu, coughing, rashes, etcetera. I made it through one round of illnesses, but my dear hubby has come down with a bad cold. Bad enough that he should stay home from work. But you can't just call your boss and say that you are sick. You have to go to the doctor and get a note. In some ways, this defies logic to me: all the husband wants to do is lie around the house in his pajamas and read his Kindle, and he's really not sick enough to need a prescription or really need a doctor's care, but he has to go the doctor to get permission to stay home. I've heard that Brazilians tend to go to work even if they are sick (hence the horrible bug that went through our family last year when our empregada came to our house and camped out in our, I mean came to work).

So, schedule an appointment with the family physician? No. (Oh, do we have a family physician? No.) What to do, what to do? Here are our options:

1. Go to the posto. This is the neighborhood free clinic. You can go there, wait in line, see a doctor for free, and get a note.

2. Go to the hospital. We are fortunate to have insurance. We live close to a great hospital with the Brazilian equivalent of urgent care. You can go there, wait in a shorter line and see a doctor and get a note.

3. Get your doctor friend to write a note. This is an option I haven't tried yet, but this was what Brazilians tell me to do. You just ask your doctor friend for a favor, and they write you a note. Seems a little iffy to me, but to be honest, it's kind of how the system works. I wonder, though, what employers think about the men who bring notes from gynecologists...

The dear husband went with option number 2, and got a note to excuse him from two days of work. I need to double check this, but I think that you can use the same kind of system if you have a sick child that you are taking care of--a note from a doctor for your child will work for your employer as well.

I'm going to go squeeze some more orange juice and heat up the left over chicken noodle soup!


  1. This requirement is due to the fact that Brazilians by law don't have a certain number of "paid sick days", a Brazilian worker has as many sick days as he or she is sick.
    So, to avoid abuse, companies need to protect themselves and have a general policy for everyone.
    Some companies are more relaxed with the rule, some are more strict.
    The important fact is that a Brazilian worker can have as many paid sick days as needed.
    This is a good system if you ask me.


  2. Thanks Ray, I'd wondered about that. It is nice to know that the law protects the workers, and it is a good system over all. And, as my husband said, it still sucks to be in a waiting room full of sick people that only want to be lying in bed at home :-)