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Need to Play Hooky From Work? Learn From the Master

Topics: Work Culture

You may have looked up to Ferris Bueller at one point in your life: a handsome rogue who knows how to bend the rules, get out of school, and put on a decent lip-syncing show. But he’s a fictional character. We need a real inspiration, someone like Joaquin Garcia , the man who reportedly didn’t go to work for six years while still collecting paychecks. And while the reason he claims he didn’t go is because he “couldn’t find anything to do,” your reason to play hooky might be a lot more serious.

gone fishing

(Photo Credit: Alan Bishop/Unsplash)

We’re all adults, right? This isn’t about trying to get out of that math test, it’s about needing to take a day off — even a real sick day. Well, the problem is that, according to a study reported on by the Washington Post, nearly 40 percent of American workers in the private sector don’t have paid sick leave.

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That means that when you’re not showing up to work, it’s not because you want to go do your best “Twist and Shout” impression at the local parade, it’s because you’ve made the impossible decision between working sick and looking like you don’t care about your job. That needs to change.

Go Home, You’re Sick

While you’re waiting for your boss to institute a new paid sick leave policy, think about this: The Huffington Post reported that one in four Americans will still go to work sick. And understandably so — 37 percent said they needed the money, and 42 percent were worried about working piling up. It’s an unfair burden to place on workers who need to choose between their personal health and paying their rent check.

Head to the Negotiating Table

But taking time to heal up isn’t just good for you. It’s good for everyone: when you’re not feeling 100 percent, you’re probably not going to perform at 100 percent. That means that your employer actually has some fiscal incentive in giving you sick leave. Don’t believe it? Check out the numbers:

A study of the effects of Connecticut’s sick leave law found that while the costs for companies to provide the paid time off was minimal (nearly half saw no change in cost, and only 6.5 percent of companies reported an increase in cost of 5 percent or more), the benefits were extraordinary: 18 percent saw a decrease in employees showing up sick, nearly 30 percent saw an increase in morale, and just under 15 percent saw an increase in productivity.

Take a Real Vacation

Here’s the thing: we Americans are absolutely terrible at taking a vacation. We’re workaholics who just won’t take a day. One survey shows that 56 percent of working Americans hadn’t taken a vacation in the past 12 months — regardless of whether or not their company offered it. And when they did have vacation available, Americans on average left more than nine of their annual vacation days unused.

Find time for yourself to rest and recover. Take the opportunity for breaks you’ve been given, and maybe you won’t find yourself pining to play hooky after all.

Tell Us What You Think

What’s taking time off work like for you? Are you ever able to unplug? Does your work provide paid sick leave? Have you been “on vacation” for months and are just secretly unemployed like this writer? Tell us your secret in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter!

Peter Swanson
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