Everyone loved Ferris except for Ed Rooney. How about you? Do you look the other way when people use sick days to kick back? Do your feelings depend on what the person is using the sick days for?
A BusinessWeek Interactive Case Study recently asked the following question - Is it OK for a solid, high-performing employee to use sick time, for non-illness related events, in order to save their vacation and personal days, for other uses?
Here's the crux of the case from BusinessWeek:
"In this case scenario, we visit a senior IT director at an insurance corporation. Although he has a great relationship with superiors and subordinates alike, he wants a new job (BusinessWeek.com, 10/16/07). The top brass consistently skimps on the funds needed to upgrade the company's technology to the state of the art, and he fears he will get stale in his present position. Plus, he's moving out of the city and buying a house in the suburbs. The commute would be an hour-and-a-half each way. He owes it to himself to move on.
When his first interview comes up—with the human resources department, at a corporation 50 miles from his office—our executive can't stomach the thought of using his little remaining vacation or personal time. The morning of the interview, he calls his supervisor and says he's not feeling well, that he suspects it's bronchitis, and he'll need to use a sick day to see a doctor.
His boss is understanding, of course. The man rarely calls in sick, so there must be a good reason for it now. But did our executive do the right thing?"
This case hits you with an extreme from the start- not only is the guy telling a lie, but he's doing it to take time off from work to get another job. That's an emotional powder-keg for the people charged with enforcing policies. Bad style point #1 on his part.
Here's my take on bad style point #2. He's a mid-to-upper level manager. Since he's answering his blackberry in the shower (details from the case study when you click through), I'm assuming he's not a 9 to 5 guy, nor is he viewed as that. With that, and the fact that he's a technology professional, I'd hope that he could wrangle the ability to work remotely for the half-day he needs for the interview (hour to and from, 2 hours for the initial process at the company). I'd also hope that he could remain productive and do this occasionally without anyone getting anxious.
If he can't figure that out, I probably don't want him as my Director of IT - with new technologies leading the charge for IT professionals and all... As a HR person, I want to manage performance - not office hours here and there for a solid, well-regarded professional.
Of course, if he can't work remotely when he has to in his current culture, maybe that type of inflexibility is the real reason he's looking.
PS- From the HR perspective, I like to be liberal with the use of sick time. Use it for anything related to illness - including the care of others. Just do me the solid of not showing up at Outback that night. Or me seeing you walk in a corporate office park across town where I have a meeting. Also, to my PTO friends out there who never have to deal with this scenario, track the Healthy Families Act closely, because you may be tearing down your PTO policy if the HFA becomes law...
And you're correct - it's never OK to lie about that type of thing. Unless you have the max cool factor like Ferris. Then you'd make the HR people chasing you look like Ed Rooney (PG-13 language warning on the clip below)...