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It may be tempting to take a couple of “mental health days” in November and December if you can’t cash out paid sick days or carry them over to next year. But if you are fired for your misconduct, you may be ineligible for Employment Insurance benefits.
A recent CareerBuilder survey found that in the past year, 30 per cent of workers called in sick when they were not. Sick days, legitimate or otherwise also become more frequent around the winter holiday, with nearly one-third of employers surveyed reporting more employees calling in sick during the holiday season.
Next to actually being sick, some of the most common reasons employees take a sick day are because they just don’t feel like going to work, they want to catch up on their sleep or they need to run errands.
But the most bizarre excuses employees gave for taking a sick day are:
• Employee’s sobriety tool wouldn’t allow the car to start
• Employee forgot he had been hired for the job
• Employee said her dog was having a nervous breakdown
• Employee’s dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation
• Employee’s toe was stuck in a faucet
• Employee said a bird bit her
• Employee was upset after watching “The Hunger Games”
• Employee got sick from reading too much
Employer strategies to discourage healthy employees from taking an unauthorized sick day include requiring a doctor’s note, calling the employee later in the day and having other employees contact a suspected faker. Some managers have even gone so far as to drive by an absent employee’s home. And 17 per cent of survey participants said they have fired employees for lying about why they didn’t show up for work.
Related: Faking sick days can get you fired
To make matters worse, you likely won’t be able to collect Employment Insurance benefits if your previous employer says you were fired because of you own misconduct.
Misconduct means your behaviour is in violation of the obligations set out in your contract of employment (i.e. to come to work every day) when under normal circumstances, you should have known that lying or an unauthorized absence could result in a dismissal.