Phoning in sick is one of the purest
expressions of free-market principles.
“Supply and demand” is a free-market
cliché commonly spouted (but often misunderstood)
by corporate leaders. “Demand” is defined
in free-market theory as a demand made
by a free, rational individual who
is acting out of self-interest.
But many “demands” – eg the demand for
“status symbol” consumer goods – owe more
to saturation advertising and social conformity
than to rational, individual self-interest.
And what about the “demand” for jobs
in the labour market? When someone is
forced by financial necessity to take
a low-paid menial job, are they making
a free, rational, self-interested demand?
Are they saying: “As a free, rational
individual, I hereby express my demand
to work in a shit job for appalling wages”.
Obviously they are not.
In fact, most of our economic activities
dont appear to fit the free-market
definition of rational, free, individual,
self-interested demands. But there
is one demand in our work-obsessed society
that undoubtedly does appear rational,
individual and self-interested
– the demand for more leisure.
In order for “supply and demand” to function
properly, demands must be expressed
and registered in the marketplace.
Unfortunately, employees are usually too
afraid to express their demand for more
leisure. And if they do express this demand,
it tends to go unregistered (eg the boss
simply ignores it). Therefore, people
express and register their
demand for leisure in the only way open
to them: they phone in sick.
Phoning in sick is the responsible way
to participate in an economy which is
unable to register demand for leisure
in any other way. To describe it as “fraud”
is stretching legal definitions to absurdity,
for the following reasons:
i) A high proportion of employees
suffer from work-related anxiety or depression
– to a degree and frequency that would
be regarded as symptomatic of clinical
psychological disorder, even though it
might not be acknowledged as “genuine
sickness” by the employer (see Government
Report A, right).
ii) Studies have shown that working
long hours without sufficient breaks has
a seriously detrimental effect on health
– often before a person notices any outward
symptoms of illness (see Government
Report B, right).
If you won’t phone in sick because you
suffer from a guilty conscience about
“dishonesty”, we suggest the following:
Imagine, vividly, how you feel at work
on a typical Monday morning. That should
make you feel queasy. By dictionary definition,
“queasy” means ill. Therefore it’s your
duty to phone in sick. If you don’t
feel queasy at the thought of Monday morning,
then by definition you are mentally
ill – you might want to consider spending
a few years in a nursing home.
Or, to put it another way: prevention
is better than cure, so phone in sick
before you get ill.