Tactics For Taking A Sickie And Not Getting Noticed

Over at Kotaku, Mark has posted a guide to chucking the perfect sickie for people who want to play Portal 2 (or any other major new game release). While it's very tongue in cheek (and arguably not needed when many of us are looking forward to a five-day weekend), it does raise some useful points worth remembering if you plan to take a day off work that isn't entirely due to sickness.

Amongst the familiar reminders (avoid scheduling a sick day next to a weekend, don't reveal what you're up to via Facebook), Mark notes that "pre-scheduling" your sick day may be more convincing:

If possible, set up your sickie in advance. Display subtle symptoms on the day before if possible – sniffles, sneezes if you’re going to play the flu/cold card. Stomach pains and subtle moans if you’re pulling the gastro sickie. Making your boss or supervisor say, ‘why are you in the office you crazy, overworked son of a bitch?’ is your goal here. You are playing the role of the loyal worker bee, sacrificing the needs of his own health for the sake of the colony.

Which tactics have you used to score time off in the past? Are you sick of co-workers not taking their share of the load? Tell us in the comments.


    Lick your palms. Clammy hands are the key to faking out the boss.

      Even the act of licking your palms at work will get you sent home for being a wierdo...

      My boss is about the same age as me; he also has seen 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off'....

      Ferris Bueller: The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It's a good non-specific symptom; I'm a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh... you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor's office. That's worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you're bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school.

    I'm surprised Lifehacker would publish such an unethical post?

      Clearly you're in the "sick of your co-workers carrying the load" camp, Andy. :)

      But more generally: Lifehacker is very focused on the real world, and sickies are a fact of life. Some workplaces are so inflexible that they're also the only way to ever get any personal time, no matter what the reason.

      As a person who never gets sick (or at least sick enough to really think I need a day off), I had over 250hrs of accumulated sick leave disappear into the ether when I left my last job.

      It's not just my right to pull a sicky, it's my duty.

      It is un-Australian not to take sickles. I don't think I have ever been so sick that I couldn't physically be at work. I always felt bad for staying home when I was feeling a bit off.

      What really put everything into perspective for me was when I went to the doctor one day just to justify being off work and he said he would give me a doctor's note to be off for three days! I thought geez I just wanted a note for the day. He then proceeded to explain to me that even though I was physically capable of being at work it was more the general environment and stress of work that affected recovery and that in order to recover efficiently I would need the 3 days because what you are physically able to do and what is good for your health and well being (both short and long term) are 2 different things.

      AAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH! My boss reads Lifehacker and posts under the alias 'Andy'

      website is called "Life"-Hacker :)

    One thing I've noted is to ensure your sickies aren't always on a day either side of a weekend. Especially a long weekend. Patterns can get noticed.

      And don't ring in at the same time every day when you want a sickie. One worker at my job calls in at exactly the same time. You can set your watch by her!

    Pretty sure a new law(?) came in that said "sick leave" is to be renamed to "Personal Leave".
    This being the case, why even pretend the day before to be sick. Just don't go to work, call your boss saying you are taking a day of personal leave for a personal issue and you are good as gold.

      Whaaaat?? What is this law of which you speak??

        Oh, whoops, I was thinking Annual Leave... Personal leave incorporate sick leave and carer's leave.

    could try coughing ON the boss, surely you'd get sent home for that...possibly permanently

    A line that's always worked for me, and removes any need for putting on a "sick voice"; I've been on the loo all night, I'd be all right to come in to work, if you really need me, but I'll be taking regular toilet breaks..."

    Response is always "nah, you just stay home and get better mate"

    I've been lucky in that we are able to take "Mental Health Days" - for when you are not actually sick, but just could do with the day off - to go shopping, meet a friend for lunch, or just crash on the couch and surf the net all day.
    As long as you don't do it when everyone else is snowed under everyone seems to understand.

      I'm curious, what industry do you work in - if you don't mind answering?

    Keep a spreadsheet of what days you have off. Try to keep them all even and as random as you can. If you have too many Fridays or Mondays they will notice and you'll get a call from HR. Unfortunately I have a really nice boss now, so it's hard to pull a sickie on him as we are always understaffed. I have over 600 hours of sick pay. When I leave the company, I will be losing the lot! It is my duty to try to salvage at least some of that.

    OK a quick Poll; How much Sick Leave do you have?

      Leave Type Balance
      Sick Leave 1,298.40 hours

      [Copy]-[Paste] straight out of the HR Self Service Kiosk. (to save you doing the maths, it's about 36 weeks!)

    1. I know this is ideological, but I think sick leave should be for sick leave - whether or not you need it because work is making you mentally unwell is a different issue, it's not just for leave. it's an entitlement IF you are sick.

    2. If you take a mental health day, don't facebook/ foursquare/ tweet it. it's a generation Y, asking for trouble thing to do.

    3. all nurses in NZ have a series of entitled 'mental health days' which form part of sick leave. no explanation required.

    If you're sick, you're sick.
    If you're not sick... you come to work.

    Simple rule I've followed over 20+ years of working, has never let me down. My problem used to be I'd also come to work when I WAS sick. But last few years, I've gotten better at listening to my body (and co-workers) and staying home when sick.

    Of course my sick-leave balances are stupidly high, and of course I get nothing in return, or no reward for being a good worker. But it makes MY brain happy. So that's something.

    One group of employees at my current work are allowed to sell back accrued sick days over 10 for ca$h. Am quite jealous of that perk in thier EBA, and the company is desperate to take that one away, and they are just as desperate to cling to it. It goes back before formal EBA's and before company was owned by current corporate entity. So far they've hung onto it over last 3 EBA's. Good on them. But still jealous.

    I have a small Aussie business.
    Tell me how I should handle the Monday 5 am morning text
    every 5 - 6 weeks, from the same fellow, telling me he is not 'feeling well'.
    When we rely on our staff, pay them, well, give them
    flexible leave when asked, give profit share, and respect them, all we want in return is honesty.
    I would prefer to be asked to have a Monday off in advance, than loose the ability to meet the customers expectations, because of another Monday sickie'.
    Should we make every 5th Monday a day off , for all of the workers and owners in the business - ? and tell our customers that we can not deliver service or goodies on that day?
    At least then, when there really was a need to use 'sick leave' - they would have some sick leave days up their sleeve.

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