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Keep it clever when pulling sickies

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What You Need to Know

  1. Experienced bosses can easily tell if you’re lying about being ill. Unseasonably sunny days, major sporting events and the few days just before a holiday are all times when pulling a sickie is particularly obvious.
  2. Using family members, transport problems and ‘flu like symptoms’ are the most common excuses offered up by employees.
  3. Employees are often able to convince their employers of the health risk presented by them coming into work by latching on to an illness receiving press attention, such as the Norovirus.
  4. Beware crying wolf. If you become genuinely ill your bosses are less likely to be sympathetic if you’ve already taken a lot of sick pay.
  5. Absenteeism is estimated to cost the economy £1.6 billion a year.

When it comes to 'pulling a sickie', as well as a brass neck and an ability to lie without compunction to your superiors, originality is key.

After all, how likely is it that a worker will be believed when he calls in complaining of 'flu-like symptoms' the day of a major football match or the morning after the office party.

Likewise, bosses will most probably frown upon illnesses reported on a freak sunny day or the day before a worker is due to jet off for a week away, and understandably so.

And though many will rope in family members, including pets or lay the blame on public transportation or dodgy mechanics as they attempt to wrangle a day in bed, there aren't many excuses out there that an experienced boss hasn't heard many times before.

Credit then to the workers who like to keep on top of current affairs and who cash in on the affliction of the moment.

Just as thousands no doubt had half-booked a long weekend away in the hope that SARS or bird flu would take off in a big way, so too are workers now looking to hop onto the Norovirus gravy train.

Indeed, new research by the employment law firm Peninsula has found that as many as eight in ten British workers would consider using the nasty bug as a reason to take some time away from the office.

Given that the national news has been full of Norovirus scare stories and sufferers have been advised to keep away from others, including their GPS and work colleagues, this would appear to be just the trick.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the firm has reported that it has received in excess of 2,200 calls from concerned employers regarding absenteeism allegedly caused by the virus, with most following the government guidelines and giving their affected workers at least 48 hours time off.

It seems a pretty safe bet that only a small proportion of workers worry about what effect their unwarranted absenteeism will have on the national economy or their company's well-being despite a recent survey from the CBI and AXA showing that it costs the UK £1.6 billion a year.

The number one concern for those thinking of pulling a sickie should instead be that they could end up 'crying wolf'.

"Calling in sick whilst in full health can become a problem later on," explained Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula.

"With the Norovirus being highly contagious it is likely that many employees will at some point become infected and require time off.

"If the employee has already used this excuse as a chance to 'skive' from work then the employer is less likely to believe them."

Whether such advice sounds so sound at half past six on a cold Monday morning may well be a different matter, however.

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