Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Is it ever OK to pull a sickie?


In a recent study by PwC a third of UK workers admit lying to avoid work. Skiving, taking a sickie, a duvet day – whatever you call it, most of us have done it (go on, admit it). Yes, despite my annoyingly ever-present guilt complex, I confess I have relented to the little devil on my shoulder and taken two fake sick days in my lifetime. The shame.

I will share these two instances of shameful behaviour with you but that paranoid guilt complex of mine prevents me revealing the employers - I have an irrational fear that even years later they will hunt me down and deduct my pay. As I have a rather large sale shopping spree to pay for (including these bargain-tastic beauties from Coast) I’ll be keeping schtum.

Number one: As an A level student I had a weekend job in a fashion retail outlet. With mountains of coursework to catch up on and the prospect of another dreary shift on fitting room duty dishing out well-meaning lies to customers with the worst possible taste in clothes looming, I decided to call in sick. With a quivering voice, I called in to deliver my well-rehearsed lie. A migraine. The truth was I had a slightly sore head (probably from the Barcardi Breezers consumed the night before) and wanted to catch up with the latest on T4 before getting stuck into some study.

Number two: I was a recruitment consultant at the time. This was a short-lived career for me. I joined this ruthless occupation with the na├»ve idea that I would be helping people up the career ladder, guiding them towards the job of their dreams and helping them get that first job that they would recount fondly in years to come as their big break. My philanthropic beliefs about a career in recruitment consultancy in hindsight were hideous. Three months into the worst job I have ever had in my life, that pesky fake migraine hit again. With quivering voice again, I called in sick.  I justify this sickie with the fact that I resigned about a week later.

So, for everyone who’s taken a sickie - would you do it again? Some will say they are the downfall of the economy. Indeed, absence is a drain on businesses and the cause of more disillusionment in the ranks as the rest of the team has to pick up the pieces while the ‘sick’ employee settles down with Jeremy Kyle. Other downtrodden workers may suggest it’s their only way to reclaim the long hours and overtime that they have little hope of clawing back otherwise or getting compensated for.

If you decide to let that little devil on your shoulder get his way, you’ll be interested to hear according to the PwC research respondents believed they could get away with pulling five 'sickies' before management would start getting suspicious. And remember never ever talk about it on Facebook or Twitter - we've all heard those horror stories.

2 comments:

  1. Considering that in the UK we have the longest working hours and the least holidays in Europe, coupled with the fact that most of us are underpaid, it's hardly surprising that people take sick days.

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  2. Completely, which is why tackling absence requires a complete culture change. Punishment clearly isn't working.

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