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
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
for some free confidential advice on 0116 212 1059.
About the Author
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Our expert employment team can offer practical advice and guidance on all
aspects of employment law including redundancy, compromise agreements and
dismissal procedures. Visit
www.lawson-west.co.uk for more information.