Fake sickies a costly exercise
TAKING fake sickies is nothing but a form of bludging.
Those who do it let down both their employers and their co-workers.
If you’d rather sit around at home than attend work – i.e. the place that pays the bills – either take some annual leave or resign from your job and give someone more dedicated a go.
Due to influenza, I had two days off my job this week.
And I’m talking about the real thing here, not some kind of pretend flu: my joints ached, I alternated between shivering and sweating, my head hurt and, worst of all, my throat was so sore I could hardly speak.
What I’ve never done is use a hangover as an excuse to bludge.
On April 25 this year a Tasmanian fish factory worker named April Chapman rang her employer (salmon processor Tassal) and left the following message: “Um, it’s Anzac Day, my birthday, and I admit I have overindulged so I’m taking into account one of the golden rules, be fit for work and I’m not going to be fit for work, so I won’t be there … ”
The message was left about 5pm the day before Ms Chapman was expected for her shift.
She had plenty of time to stop drinking and prepare herself for work.
But instead she chose to continue hitting the grog at a party with friends, and “chucked a sickie” the next day.
Tassal promptly sacked her for misconduct. Bizarrely, however, the Fair Work Commission assessed the termination as “harsh” and “inappropriate” and awarded Ms Chapman $8229 compensation.
Were we to adopt FWC’s logic more widely, then apparently any employee who drank to excess, took copious amounts of drugs or stayed up all night partying (or all three) would be entitled to sick leave on full pay subsidised by his or her boss. What nonsense is this? Why should business owners be expected to pay for some employees’ hangover-inducing social lives when those same workers can’t or won’t ap- pear at work when required? Perhaps former prime minister Bob Hawke is partly to blame.
In 1983, Hawke pretty much gave his approval to the illegitimate sickie when he appeared on national TV just after Australia II’s historic victory over Dennis Connor’s Liberty in the America’s Cup and stated: “Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.” Cue much laughter all around. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate (as Hawke was clearly doing at the time) a great sporting win like the one achieved by owner Alan Bond’s skipper, John Bertrand, and the crew of Australia II?
The problem is that all those days off must be paid for somehow. Every time an employee chucks an unwarranted sickie, his or her boss either must fork out for a replacement or suffer lost productivity.
And because a majority of us work at small-to-medium-sized firms, those businesses paying for hangover-recovery sessions, days off adjacent to long weekends and spontaneous birthday celebrations are hardly the big end of town – rather they’re just fellow Australians also battling to make ends meet.
Sick leave is not a pot into which you can dip whenever it suits you; rather it’s a specific entitlement only to be used when you are genuinely ill.
If you never fall sick, then you have no right to claim that category of leave.
Don’t believe me? Consider what happens when you resign from a job.
Any unused annual and long-service leave is usually paid out in cash.
But accrued sick days are almost always forfeited. And why not?
No one should be financially compensated for the enviable circumstance of good health.
Taking more than a day off work without a doctor’s certificate is often a scam. Likewise, employees who ring in sick every Monday before the Melbourne Cup should be treated with the utmost suspicion.
And if you know, in advance, that you’re going to overindulge in alcohol due to a birthday, Anzac Day, sporting event or combination of all three, then request a day of annual leave to recover.
The costs of partying to excess should rightly drain your own pocket, not your employer’s. Something a beer-soaked Bob Hawke probably would have struggled to comprehend on live TV almost 35 years ago. Tom Elliott is 3AW drivetime host
NOT ON: Fake sickies can be costly for employers. Picture: ISTOCK