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'Creative' reasons employees cite for taking leave!

Last updated on: April 13, 2012 11:56 IST

'Creative' reasons employees cite for taking leave!

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Shyamal Majumdar in Mumbai

Sir, I won't be in today. I'm still drunk from last night," a 20-something told his boss the other day quite early in the morning.

This reason for taking a day off wouldn't pass muster with any office rule book and can be termed horribly undiplomatic, but the boss didn't mind - at least it was a frank admission from a colleague who otherwise attends office regularly.

In the sea of bogus excuses that employees all over the world give for taking unscheduled leave or coming in late, this one at least stood out for its sheer honesty.

A former HR head, who is now into consultancy, says bogus excuses can be an addiction.

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The fun in making them up is similar to that of stealing fruit from the neighbourhood as children rather than being served by parents.

"Think of it this way: bizarre excuses are a testament to the creative juices of employees," says the former HR head. He seems to be a real sympathetic soul, but he wouldn't, for sure, find many takers for his logic.

There are an umpteen number of harassed bosses who have strict reservations about employees having such fun at their expense.

They wonder to what extent this so-called productivity would have benefited had employees spent as much thought and creativity in the workplace.

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This isn't an India-specific issue. A unique survey done by CareerBuilder.com, the largest online jobsite in the US, showed that over a third of employees have played hooky from the office, calling in sick when they were in perfect health.
Nearly one in 10 employees admitted to calling in sick because they wanted to miss a meeting, or spend time with family and friends.

The employers responded swiftly: over half of them called the employee at home; a fifth had either a colleague call the employee or drove by his or her apartment!

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But this is a common excuse. When asked to share the most unusual excuses employees gave for missing work, employers offered the following real-life examples: One said he had had a heart attack early that morning, but that he was "all better now"; while another said her dog was stressed out after a family reunion.

Their counterparts in India are no less "creative" and never seem to run out of ideas on reasons for taking leave.

One took seven days leave for her best-friend's wedding. Three months later, her email to the boss said she needs a few days of leave for "her best-friend's divorce. All of us knew the marriage wouldn't last".

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Her boss granted leave but muttered under his breath that the office wouldn't mind a divorce with her too.

Some take leave complaining of severe headache due to burnout symptoms or too much stress at work - that's like killing two birds with one stone.

Others adopt what is known as the faking-sickness-at-work method. A day before their day off, they hint at their flu throughout the day by casually talking about their untrue flu-like symptoms to colleagues: for example, their bones hurt and they feel a little nauseous. This way, colleagues can make the connection when they take leave the next day.

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Here is advice from a sympathetic boss who has been at the receiving end of such excuses: a contagious disease like flu is a good one to get leave for a fair number of days, especially when newspapers are full of such flu stories in your city.

You would surely find your boss himself asking you not to come to office. It is even better to not call your boss.

This helps avoid the possibility of questions or having to modulate your voice to sound sick. Calling your boss' voice-mail or an SMS or even an email is, thus, a preferred option.

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One of the most commonly used leave-excuse ideas is a death in the extended family since nobody can deny you leave for such a reason.

But the flip side is you will need to keep track of the excuses about who is "passing away" each time you take leave and also require a really big family tree.

Otherwise, the following may happen. One of the worst excuses a boss heard was from an afternoon-shift employee who came late for work and claimed that her grandfather's funeral had taken much longer than expected - forgetting that this was the third grandfather whose funeral attendance she had claimed.

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Reasons like children falling ill or getting hurt are also immensely popular - for everybody loves children and any boss would buy that excuse.

An HR head says for heaven's sake, don't overdo these excuses since they reflect poorly on your personality and can dent your image.

After all, it's in your best interest to be upfront with your employer and chances are that you will get the time you need - unless, of course, your boss is a monster.

<B>Tailpiece</B><BR>

An employee called his boss to inform him that he wouldn't be coming to office for two days since his spectacles had broken, to which a colleague SMSed: "Wish I had glasses, too!"



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