Sunday, August 03, 2008

Chucking a Sickie

By Emily Stephens

Chucking a sickie. That’s Australian for “faking a sick day” at work.

There’s a new Australian-based
website where anyone can buy a fake sick note in order to be excused from work or get out of a bad gym membership. Medical authorities are warning employees against using the online company. The notes cost about $38 each and are perfect for those who work at companies that require a medical certificate whenever they take a sick day.

"It is clearly inciting and abetting fraud," said
Wayne Herdy, a doctor and lawyer from the Australian Medical Association in Queensland state. "It's a matter that even the police should be looking at.”

Nevertheless, it’s still kinda cool! Doctor-signed sick notes are available in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain, in as quickly as a 48-hour turn-around. Links on the website are provided for Canadian and American who want to purchase sick notes as well.

"Explain your time off work or school with our genuine doctors' medical certificates. Available blank or filled in. Available with or without a genuine doctors stamp,” the website boasts.

Of course the company insists that these notes are not to be used illegally and are considered a novelty gift. Tee hee hee. Yeah, right. I can’t help but smile.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad I have a job…but that doesn’t mean I enjoy in any way, shape, or form what I do. My 9 to 5 is purely a necessity, a means to an end. I’m not alone in job dissatisfaction, either. Many of us dream of doing something different, something more with our lives. According to a recent
Harris Interactive Survey, 55% of Americans are not satisfied with their jobs. Only 20% feel passionate about their jobs, 33% feel they’ve reached a dead end in their career, and 21% are eager to change careers.

Younger workers are the most distressed and the least likely to feel loyalty to their employers. (After being burned too many times by “The Man,” I fall into that category). Furthermore, a study sponsered by economists at the
University of Aberdeen uncovered that job satisfaction is the most critical factor for life satisfaction and well-being.

Which brings me to the subject of Europe. According to the
Ecomonist, many well-to-do European countries work less than 30 hours per week on average. “Flexible arrangements for part-time workers, generous welfare systems and a limit on the working week all contribute to western Europe's seeming indolence. But where more people work part-time the average working week is likely to be shorter.”

Why can’t the US be more like Europe?
I have a few theories. Maybe they simply enjoy a more relaxed society? Maybe their civilizations are older and wiser than ours and have figured out that unless you’re one of the few who actually live to work, that work really stinks and should be done in moderation.
Therefore, I propose a 30-hour work week, or five six-hour work days.

The concept of a
30-hour work week was raised in the US as early as 1922, during a national strike of coal miners. Amidst of the Great Depression, the Black-Connery bill was introduced in the US Senate with the hope that it would put millions of unemployed back to work. The bill would have required employers to pay time and a half after 30 hours, as well as established a minimum wage and set limits on child labor.

Even William Green, the conservative head of the American Federation of Labor, supported the bill. Unfortunately, the bill was nipped in the bud by President Roosevelt who caved to business pressure and withdrew support. The bill failed in the House only by the slimmest margins. The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 established the 40-hour work week—which sadly was a break for many employees who typically punched a 50-hour time clock.

Ever heard of
karoshi? That’s Japanese for “death due to overwork.” Believe it or not, compensation is actually awarded to families of those struck dead by fatal occupational diseases. Scientists there have linked ischemic heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases to heavy workloads. Current studies show evidence of an association between overwork and cardiovascular diseases.

Imagine how different the world would be with a 30-hour work week. I actually believe I could get just as much accomplished at work in 30 hours, if not more, than what I typically achieve during a 40-hour work week. But, until then, how does this sound?

“Please excuse Emily Stephens for the next 8 days. She is suffering from a bad case of bubonic flu. Short-term disability should be awarded as her condition is very serious. Oh, and when she is ready to return to work, she should be given an office with a window, a new ergonomical keyboard, and paid leave during her daily massage therapy. A substantial raise wouldn’t be bad, too; since Emily is ill with a terrible flu, her eyes are red, her face is blue, alas, alas, what can she do.”

Dr. Seuss

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