One of the perks of working for the federal public service is our cumulative sick leave benefits. We get 15 days of sick leave per year. We also get 5 family-related days per year (not cumulative) to stay home and take care of sick family members.
Statistics Canada tells us that federal public servants take an average of 16.2 of these days off every year – 12.3 in personal sick days and 3.8 in family related sick days.
So, the average public servant takes most of the sick leave they’re entitled to every year. Some even use up all their sick leave every year. Either public servants are a very sickly bunch or maybe, just maybe, they’re abusing this benefit a little bit. I know some who think they’re “sticking it to the man” by taking all their leave the instant it accrues.
Other people, like me, just save up our sick leave. I have around 8 months of sick leave banked. And no, I’m not one of those freaks who drag themselves into the office boasting about how they have fever, chills, violent diarreah and are throwing up every 10 minutes. If I’m sick, I stay home. I don’t like it when people are sneezing and coughing all over the office, so I imagine others wouldn’t like it if I did it.
And, maybe once a year I might even take a day or two when I’m not exactly sick, but do feel the need for a rest.
But I make sure I do it at a time when it won’t cause too much inconvenience to my co-workers.
Some people, on the other hand, deliberately arrange their sick days for when something big is due or when things are particularly busy at the office.
I don’t like those people.
There’s a guy where I work who does this. Whenever the going gets tough, he gets going. A few weeks ago, we were already down a few people because of vacations and training and stuff and he called in sick for the week. He sent an email on Monday and Tuesday saying he was sick and on Wednesday he sent an email saying he was going to be sick for the rest of the week. I heard nothing further from him.
That left me to run the entire unit. Alone. For a week.
It would have been really difficult to do with just two people. With just me, it was almost impossible. You’ll recall that I’m actually brand-spanking new in this job, right?
It was a completely insane week. I only survived because of my astonishing fortitude, innate cleverness and by going for extra long runs every day.
And then he comes back the next week raving about the cool trips he took to Toronto and to his cottage while he was “off”. He even brought photos to show us!
A lesser person than I would have taken the electric stapler to his testicles, but I just gave him a withering look and said, “Not cool, dude.”
I guess these people think we all have the same don’t-give-a-shit attitude as they do and will just leave the work undone or fall behind in deadlines. I don’t think it actually occurs to them that we’re doing their work for them. Or maybe it does and they don’t care.
However, I’m confident that this sick-day abuse is going to come back to haunt them. If something ever happens – an accident, a serious illness, surgery – they’re going to need a lot of time off and then they’ll have to take it unpaid.
Also, absenteeism is looked at pretty hard as part of the reference check when you’re applying for new positions or promotions or deployments.
So, yuk it up ya’ll.