Why texting in sick isn't enough

A quarter of employees text instead of calling in sick, says a survey. And bosses are suspicious.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 21 Jun 2012
If you’re feeling a bit ropey tomorrow morning, think twice before you text your boss – call instead, a survey suggests. According to figures from cold and flu medicine Covonia, a quarter of employees send their bosses a text message saying they’re going to be off, rather than giving them a call. One in six even said they send a Facebook message. The bad news, though, is that three-quarters of managers reckon texting or emailing (or, presumably, sending a Facebook message. Or a tweet) is, well, a bit of a cop-out.

The survey, of 10,000 people, also found that for 15% of managers, using a ‘cold’ as an excuse is enough to arouse suspicion. And while a quarter said they exaggerate their symptoms by hamming up their voices, social media seems to have become the truant’s worst nightmare: 20% of managers say they check their workers’ Facebook pages to see what they’ve been up to. No wonder 34% actively avoid using it when they’re off to prevent their boss’ suspicions from being aroused. Although some are clearly always going to be suspicious: one in 20 bosses actually admit to driving to their employees’ houses to check up on them. Not, arguably, the most effective use of company time…

Still, the survey does show that that British bulldog spirit still (occasionally) shines through: 13% of people think anyone who uses a ‘cold’ as an excuse is weak. Which, according to Professor Ron Eccles, from Cardiff University, is quite a good point: ‘Cold sufferers are at their most contagious up to three days before exhibiting any symptoms, so by the time they are feeling unwell, the chance of catching their illness is already reduced,’ he helpfully explains. In other words, that excuse about not passing it on to anyone else doesn’t fly.

That should give those with a weak constitution something to think about the next time they cite the sniffles as a reason to stay off. Although at this juncture, MT would like to add that it won’t be held responsible for any violence incited by the constant sniffing/coughing/whining that comes with forcing the invalided in front of a computer…

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