Being ill is never pleasant (if we're going to state the bleedin' obvious), but there are pros and cons to being on the sick when you work from home.
I went down with a lurgy on Friday. I'd had a bad headache the day before, which I'd put down to stress and hunching over my keyboard. In fact, it was a warning of a cold that was settling in my sinuses. To be blunt, I felt like shit on Friday, but because I was at home I was able to work in fits and starts. The cleaner was in, which forced me to dress, otherwise I'd have sat in my dressing gown all day.
Had I been at an office, I'd have called in sick, gone back to bed and slept it off as much as possible. For one thing, not going in would have meant not passing on any germs to colleagues (workmates are not generally keen on sick people staggering in). And the main advantage of being employed is that you still get paid. You can stay indoors, wrap up warm and not worry that being ill might make it difficult to pay the bills at the end of the month.
Over the weekend, the cold developed and I spent all Saturday and Sunday in my dressing gown, trying to catch up on sleep and rest as much as possible in order to be fit again on Monday. And indeed, yesterday morning I felt quite a bit better despite a disrupted night. It was not to last. I deteriorated during the day and by mid-evening was sick enough to require an out-of-hours trip to the GP clinic as my lungs had become infected and I was having trouble breathing. The duty GP prescribed antibiotics.
I'm still feeling like shit but at least I can work. I've put back all the non-urgent tasks and tackled only the most important stuff today. Luckily I had nothing booked in that had a deadline, which meant I could sleep in until 10am. Since then I've been at my PC dealing with mails but not really "working".
The advantage of home-working is that these minor illnesses don't usually prevent you from working full stop. It's usually possible to juggle things and take breaks for a nap when you need one. I've avoided the phone the last two days as the lung infection makes speech difficult, especially combined with a rattling cough. But I can still handle email, paperwork and minor jobs. And I can nip to the kitchen at will to brew tea or take medicine.
What I dread is longer-term sickness (she says, touching wood). Freelances can buy insurance to protect against loss of earnings, but I gather it's expensive and can be very difficult to claim (as you might imagine, I don't have any). Like employees, we can self-certify for illness the first 7 days - after that you need a doctor's certificate and then it becomes hideously complicated. I recall a colleague describing how she'd called the DWP about sickness benefit, to be instructed to get herself to a Job Centre to collect a claim form (which is apparently not available online to download). Said form is 56 pages. Now, if you're ill, do you really want to have stagger to the nearest job centre? Bearing in mind that if you are not in an urban area, you could have quite a way to travel. Then there's the matter of filling in a massive form, when what you should be doing is resting.
My advice? Never get anything worse than a cold! And make sure you have at least 3 to 6 months' worth of "pay" stashed in a savings account so that if you really do become incapacitated, you have enough income to live for a while at least without worry.