Thursday, October 29, 2015

The universe said I should take the day off….


Bizarre excuses for calling in "sick"



CareerBuilder has published its annual survey on sick day usage and excuses. As usual, it’s both hilarious and revealing. Take a look at the link.

The survey reveals that 38% of employees call in sick when they aren’t actually sick. No surprise there, but still pretty disappointing. That’s up from 28% in last year’s survey. Of those that weren’t really sick, 27 percent said they had a doctor’s appointment (ok, that’s legit), the same percentage said they just didn’t feel like going, 26% said they needed to relax, 21% said they needed to catch up on sleep and 12% blamed bad weather.

Thirty-three percent of the employers responding said they have checked to see if an employee was telling the truth after calling in sick – up from 31% last year. So, nearly the same numbers of employers are suspicious of call-ins as the number of employees calling in who aren’t really sick.

The most common way to check up on employees was asking for a physician’s note; followed by nearly 50% calling the employee to check. What I find amusing is that 33% of employers checked employees’ social media posts, and caught employees in lies! (Go figure, people still don’t seem to get that the internet isn’t really private.)

This type of abuse isn’t new; it’s a common issue most employers deal with. But the ways we discover the abuse have changed a bit. It used to be that management would hear through the "grapevine" or an employee is seen out and about in the community enjoying himself when he should be at home coughing and sneezing and tending to a fever. Now, we still may find out through the "grapevine", but the grapevine is now electronic and being seen out and about is via a photo on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

How do we curb abuse? I think it’s safe to say we can never hope to eliminate it. However, there may be some ways to make it less easy, and seem like a bit more risky for an employee to fudge on the reason she called in.
This morning I read an excellent post by Jeff Nowak who writes FMLA Insights. While the question Jeff is answering initially relates to curbing FMLA abuse, his advice applies to every leave request made by an employee. Ask every employee who requests leave (or is calling in)


  • What is the reason for the absence?
  • What essential functions of the job can they not perform?
  • Will the employee see a health care provider for the injury/illness?
  • Have they previously taken leave for this condition? If so, when?
  • [If they are calling in late in violation of the call-in policy], when did the employee first learn he/she would need to be absent? Why did they not follow the Company’s call-in policy?
  • When do they expect to return to work?

Read through the whole post. Jeff gives great advice and some tools you can use today to help curb abuse of sick time in general, and FMLA specifically.

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