WORKPLACE / JAN. 30, 2014
version 4, draft 4

If You Phone Up Sick - Make Sure You Really Are Ill!

If you’ve ever been tempted to throw a sickie – and in Britain last year, many of you did, resulting in 25 million ‘lost days’ – then beware…your boss might be a bit more vigilant than normal.

February 3rd, is what’s recently been dubbed National Sickie Day – the day of the year when record numbers of workers (some 375,000 in the UK) are expected to phone in sick.

Thanks to a combination of dark mornings, ongoing cold weather, post-Christmas financial worries, and the prospect of summer still being a long way off, the first Monday of February is traditionally the worst day of the year for attendance. Not surprisingly, it follows hot on the heels of Jan 20 – the most depressing day of the year.

According to the Employment Law Advisory Service (ELAS), which monitors absence, today’s sickies will cost employers more than £30 million in terms of wages paid to people hiding away at home. But this year at least, it’s providing advice to would-be sickie pullers – don’t fall for the same mistakes that other employees got rumbled for - but best of all, don't throw sickies at all.

It’s compiled a list of some of the worst excuses that people tried to use – and then got caught out with. One included an employee who took a leave of absence after saying his grandfather had died. The company’s HR manager knew the family and bumped into the grandfather, who was very much alive at the local supermarket. Not surprisingly, the worker was dismissed as a result.

In another case it saw a worker called in to say he couldn’t work that day because his girlfriend’s sister was having a baby. But a follow up call by the employer to verify this revealed that there was no girlfriend (and therefore no sister or baby).

ELAS head of consultancy, Peter Mooney says: “Our research shows that people are resorting to ever more outlandish excuses to avoid spending a day in the office.”

ELAS has compiled a list of other outlandish claims would-be sickie takers should probably avoid:

  • One man who said he only had one pair of work trousers and because they were being washed by his mum he couldn’t make it in.
  • One employee said he needed new tyres on his car and that if he drove into work it would be illegal.
  • One person said they couldn’t afford to put petrol in their car to get to work.
  • A woman said she couldn’t come in because she had been play fighting with her boyfriend and hurt her finger as a result.

The moral of the story: if you are well, and you throw a sickie – your bosses are probably more attuned to spotting your excuses than you think. It doesn’t do your job prospects any good to be ill when you’re actually very well! Don't throw a sickie. Getting sacked as a result really would make you sick!


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