The alarm has just pierced the silence of the room and you should be getting up for work, but every ounce of your being wants to stay where it is. An occasional unscheduled day under the covers is by no means unheard of, but unfortunately, your workplace probably doesn't appreciate your spontaneity, and with good reason – it is estimated that ‘pulling a sickie’ costs the UK economy £15 billion a year, not to mention the impact it has on the individual companies and co-workers.
The poll of 2,000 UK workers revealed that the top five industries where workers were more likely to make up an excuse to their boss were call centres (54 per cent), utilities (47 per cent), the voluntary sector (45 per cent), health (43 per cent) and fashion and design (42 per cent). It also highlighted the regions where workers fib the most. These are East Anglia (40 per cent), the East Midlands (38 per cent), the North East (37 per cent) Yorkshire and the Humber (37 per cent), and the South East (37 per cent). It also alleges that it is more likely to be a woman than a man that skives.
There’s plenty of advice on the internet on ‘how to throw a sickie’. When the latest Grand Theft Auto was released, Esquire magazine ran a feature with helpful tips on how to avoid work because ‘annoyingly, it takes up several precious hours of the day you could be spending sat with your wide screen.’ Whatever your motive, a word of caution: for every page of helpful hints, there are now as many articles on sorry individuals that lost their jobs because their boss found out they were fakers. Take the case of Kyle Doyle. After a particularly heavy night out he decided that he would phone in sick and treat himself to a day in bed. To celebrate his day off, Kyle, a 21-year-old call centre worker, updated his status on Facebook to reflect the fact. Unfortunately for Kyle, his online boast did not go unnoticed by his employers. On his profile he wrote: 'not going to work, f**k it, I'm still trashed SICKIE WOO.' He doesn’t work there anymore. With the Ashes underway, there will probably be plenty facing a similar dilemma over the coming weeks.
Whether out of frivolity or necessity, most of us have felt the need to take time out of our working lives at short notice. But what happens when simply phoning in and taking the day off isn't an option? If you have exhausted the standard excuse book, how far would you go with it? Would you, for example, go as far as the Aberdeen hotel cleaner who last week admitted faking an assault on himself with a boulder and a razor blade in an attempt to dupe his employer into giving him paid leave? One can only hope not, because he also paid instead with his job.
Of course there is nothing big or clever about skiving off work. But while a guilty conscience gets the better of most, can you honestly say you’ve never succumbed to the occasional over-diagnosis of a mild sniffle (definitely the beginnings of swine flu), the after-effects of a big night out (sounds like swine flu again, I reckon), or even a recurrence of an achy back (if that's not swine flu, I don't know what is). Your workplace health insurance policy won’t cover you for that and long term it won’t do your pension much good. Your employers can insure against absent staff but long term, that isn’t really the point is it? If you constantly find yourself in need of a day off work perhaps you should reassess the job you're in. It may be that you can't stand what you're doing and you're actually ruining your health through worry, anxiety and resentment. In this case, you need to think long and hard about changing jobs or even career path, have a chat with a Recruitment Consultant.
When you take time off work it affects everyone, not least of all your colleagues. Think carefully before landing burdens on your co-workers and leaving anyone in the lurch.
But perhaps more worrying for industry than sickies is ‘presenteeism.’ Because of job insecurities 55% of Brits have gone into work when they felt too ill to be there, only to spread their germs on epidemic proportions. Despite feeling unwell they were worried what their boss or colleagues would think if they called in. Tricky to call if you are a boss. In the US they now factor in ‘duvet days’ into the annual leave allowance. These are typically between 2 and 4 days that an employee can utilise should the erm, bird flu, feel bad enough.