I wrote in a post yesterday about Bimbola who informed me his GP told him to take a week off work because of his new diagnosis of ‘hayfever‘. Now, my sons are both plagued with hayfever during certain months of the year and while it’s irritating and makes them irritable, they still go to work each day. And you might think I was insensitive by telling him to get his backside into work that day but Bimbola had previously used every excuse in the book for taking time off work.
Let me tell you, our wonderful NHS offers terrific benefits, including:
- 27 days holiday + bank holidays — after 5 years you are entitled to another 2 days holiday and after 10 years you get an extra 4 days = 33
- 10 sick pay tho’ if it’s a long-term illness (such as mine – Transverse Myelitis) you will receive full pay for 6 months and half pay for the next 6 months
- 5 days discretionary compassionate leave
- 5 days discretionary carer’s leave (if you have small children)
- Study days – discretionary
I think these benefits are very generous but unfortunately, far too often, they’re are abused. Staff would ask how many sick days, compassionate leave or carer’s leave they had left — as though this was an entitlement to have few more days off each year.
Our African nurses appeared to have lots of people they called brother, sister, grandmother or uncle and aunty, so regularly requested compassionate leave when someone died.
One guy had asked me for leave as his grandmother had died and when I looked through his records his ‘grandmother’ had already died three times (prior to my arrival on this ward), so his request was declined.
Another called to tell me his daughter had the sniffles and couldn’t go to school so he needed to stay home to care for her. The next day I asked how his daughter was and he said she was much better and was going back to school that day. “Aaaww, that’s good, bless her, how old is she?”
“Oh, she is 20 and is at university.” he smiled proudly.
“Ah. Right — that changes things Kwami. Unfortunately, you can’t have carer’s leave for your adult daughter who just had the sniffles I’m afraid.”
Remember Bimbola, who wanted a week off for his hayfever? Well, one of his girlfriends was pregnant and had gone into labour. Bimbola called to say he would be taking his two weeks paternity leave and the next day he let the team know that he’d had a healthy baby boy named Rio – whoop, whoop. We were all delighted for him and put in a kitty to buy a gift — two of our girls went shopping and brought back loads of goodies, all blue, together with a card and one of those huge helium balloons.
About three months later, Bimbola’s girlfriend dropped by to show us their beautiful baby girl who was just two weeks old. His face was a picture when I went to let him know the said girlfriend was on the ward. Of course, he was disciplined and was unable to take any more paternity leave.
Another chap, our in-house Latino lothario, was continually hooking up with girls via the internet, called to say he was locked out of his house and couldn’t get in to shower or change his clothes. When he came to work the following day his wife rang asking to speak to him. It turns out his long-suffering wife had locked him out — no, no one knew he was married. His compassionate leave day was cancelled.
Glenmore had me spluttering coffee all over patient’s notes when he rang to whisper “I can’t come in today. Me swollen — down there. I can’t get me jeans on”
“Eh? Sorry Glen, I don’t understand,” I mumbled to cover the sound of me putting him on loudspeaker cos our deputy manager was in the office and she loved a good laugh too.
“My girl, she pierce me, with her teeth, ya know…….”
“No, sorry Glen….”
“Girl, when things get heat up, ya know. She go a bit wild and me thing swollen now,” he grimaced.
Me and Jackie sniggered and spluttered as I suggested I call him an ambulance, which would bring him to our general hospital next door, so we could visit him in our break. Kissing his teeth, “No girl. No. Don’t put me there. Let me fix it,” he groaned and this was real — this was no malingering or joking, Glenmore was in pain. His request for a few days off was granted.
He was mortified when he returned to work. He made it clear he didn’t want to talk about it or how the problem was resolved. However, his new attire of jogging pants, his strange new strutt and the eye watering bulge didn’t need any explanation.
His kind GP had chosen to leave the full details off his sick note and Glenmore asked me to do the same.
We live in a world now where taking the occasional “sick day” is often actually frowned upon — that’s probably because lots of people tend to take advantage, as I know from my time in the NHS.
However, we all know it’s essential when you’re genuinely ill, you take some time off to recuperate. But often one of the most difficult reasons to request sick leave is often for mental health.
Anecdotal evidence says that some companies offer duvet days, in an attempt to reduce sickness leave, which offer opportunities for people to take a break during difficult times, particularly for those with mental health issues and who, on certain days, just can’t face getting out of bed.
Hmmn. Why do people who have mental health issues have to request a duvet day? Why is it so difficult to ask for time off sick when we have mental health problems?
What the worst excuse you’ve heard from people asking for a sick day? Have you ever given another excuse to cover for mental illness?