Throwing a Sickie


With one exception, I have never thrown a sickie.

In fact, on one occasion, when at Ebbw Vale, I did the reverse: I had been off sick with a heavy head cold and, thinking I was better, attempted to come in the next day. Turned out I was mistaken, and mid-morning the mist was descending in my brain.

Fortunately the person doing the timekeeping was sharing my office and he remarked “you realise that by coming in and going back home, you’ve now had two absences for sickness?”
Normally, two such absences in a six month period give cause for a disciplinary, which in this case would clearly be ridiculous. If I was guilty of something, it was overzealous presenteeism, not excessive absenteeism. So I told him to pretend that I had never been there.

The only time I threw a sickie was during my first year at Allied Steel & Wire, shortly before Christmas, when the day mother for our baby son was not available, and someone had to stay home to look after him. Since at the time I didn’t have a holiday balance yet, I rang up pretending to have a stomach bug. To which Tony Franks replied “so you won’t be able to make it for tomorrow’s Christmas meal then?” I don’t know if my reply that this type of stomach bug was usually over in 24 hours sounded convincing, but Tony must have let it pass on this occasion.

My absences for sickness have been few and far between, so I was a bit miffed that I would be having a disciplinary hearing in Port Talbot when I was first off sick with a heavy cold, and within the same 6-month period after eating an out-of-date pasty. Fortunately my boss saw sense, since this just happened to be the bunching up of two rare events in an otherwise unblemished record where there had been no absences for years.

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