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Excuses excuses


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A hilarious article in the Daily Mail last week got us thinking about staff absence and what constitutes a valid excuse for time off work. According to the Mail, a survey of 1,000 employees and 1,000 workers found that creative excuses are more common than you might think. From the faintly daft “I am hallucinating”, fairly worrying “I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am” to the downright unbelievable: “I am in A & E because I’ve got a clothes peg stuck on my tongue”, unsurprisingly 6 out of ten bosses are saying they don’t believe their employees when they call in sick.

Other excuses suggest some people are extremely unlucky: “My car handbrake broke and it rolled down a hill into a lamp-post”, accident prone: “I was swimming too fast and smacked my head on the poolside” or simply a bit of a wimp: “I’ve been bitten by an insect.”

Either way, the situation today is that one in four employers question the employee when they call in with a feeble excuse (“The dog ate my shoes”, “My fish is sick”). Bosses also tend to be more suspicious when the sun is shining, or if the employee seemed 100% well the day before. Increasingly, managers are also turning to social media to see if an employee posts anything to suggest they aren’t really ill.

The survey did find that certain illnesses such as abdominal pains are more likely to be believed than others, and 66% of employers now insist on a phone call rather than a text or email when calling in sick.

From the perspective of an employer, it is far easier to deal with staff absence effectively if you have a detailed staff handbook outlining all policies and procedures – alongside the likely consequences if you are found to be in breach of them. “I have a blocked nose/sore finger/hair dye disaster” really aren’t good enough for the 21st century workplace…although they undoubtedly make a good read!

If you have a staff member with an unacceptable absence record or are suspicious that an illness has been fabricated, please call  for some free confidential advice on 0116 212 1059.

About the Author

Lawson-West specialise in commercial, business and employment law. Our team of dedicated commercial solicitors can help with buying or selling a business, business law and disputes, landlord and tenant issues and commercial property. Our expert employment team can offer practical advice and guidance on all aspects of employment law including redundancy, compromise agreements and dismissal procedures. Visit for more information.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-10-22 15:57:05 in Legal Articles

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