(MoneyWatch) *Cough, cough* "I'm not feeling well," *cough* "So, I won't be able to come in today." Have you ever said that and then experienced a rather miraculous recovery by the time you hung up the phone? This magical cure is called, "Using a sick day as a vacation day," and according to a new survey by Adecco, 47 percent of workers have used a sick day when they were really taking vacation.
Their coworkers are onto them, though, because 72 percent of employees think their coworkers are lying about being ill when they call in sick. I would note, that that makes a good percentage of people who both lie about being sick and then turn and accuse their coworkers for doing the same. Takes one to know one, I suppose.
Bereavement and Jury duty (26 and 27 percent, respectively) are also used as vacation days. Which tells me something, but not what you might think. Yes, people want more vacation. That's obvious. But secondly, they feel they are not being treated fairly.
Here's how I make the jump from lying about why you are out of the office to unfairness. Yes, when you accept a job, they tell you how much vacation you have. (Incidentally, younger workers have much less vacation than older works). They also tell you how many sick days, bereavement days and holidays you have. So, it should be a surprise that when you use all your vacation days by June, you can't take the week between Christmas and New Year's off. That part is obvious.
But when employees start to lie, that indicates they believe they are being treated unfairly. And as evidence of this, 20 percent of employees have been denied vacation time, when they asked. And a previous survey by Beyond.com showed that-- either there is too much work or the boss doesn't make it easy.
So, getting a day off (one that you have earned), can be difficult. But, if you say, "Gosh, I'm sick," there's nothing a boss can do about that. Sick is sick. (Not that your job is protected for regular run-of-the-mill illness, but most companies won't fire you for a single absence.) And if Grandma died you have to take time now, no matter if it's busy season or not. (Although people who lie about bereavement should be careful. Eventually you run out of false dead relatives.) And bereavement policies are generally ridiculous in the first place, offering 1 to 3 days to deal with the death of a spouse, parent or child.
Managers should be managing performance and not by the clock anyway. (For exempt employees. For non-exempt employees, legally, managers have to track hours.) If you promote an atmosphere where employees feel respected and valued, they won't have to resort to lying to get time off. If someone has been putting in extra hours to get a key project done, or has accomplished something grand, even if it was within regular hours, rewarding that person with an extra vacation day can go a long way towards building trust and respect within the office.
So, take a hint from the Adecco survey. Your employees want more time off. If they are good employees, managers should see to it that they get it.