Clearly Stated - Don’t try this at work

Alex Harrold
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In the interests of my ongoing efforts to be of some benefit to the reading public, I am providing for those of you who have children about to enter the workforce an example of something you may want to pass on to them of what not to do if and when your children find it necessary to secure a day or two off from their new employment.

The sheer lunacy of this example speaks for itself and likely doesn’t require an entire column devoted to the hereinafter contained advice. Seeing as my desire to be of some benefit to you often exceeds common sense, I am nevertheless passing this information on to you if for no other reason than the humour I got out of it and wished to share with you.

A person very close to me is responsible for the hiring and firing of individuals in a labour capacity and subsequently has heard a number of reasons why people require a day or two off every once in a while for very legitimate reasons. Over the years, he has noted that young workers new to the workforce comprise a group whose creativity in coming up with reasons for requiring time off from work often is not completely thought out well, such that the legitimacy of their request requires further investigation.

A new employee approached his employer with a request for one or two days off because of the death of his grandmother. The employee was unaware that the death of a close family member actually entitled the worker to up to five days of paid bereavement leave, along with other benefits provided by his union. The employee was certainly grateful to be made aware of this particular benefit at a time when his thoughts were elsewhere due to the death of his grandmother. The employer, being both conscientious as well as duty-bound to record the information surrounding the death, inquired as to the location of the funeral home so that flowers could be sent on behalf of the employer to the deceased’s family. The young employee provided the information requested.

Following this, the employer contacted the funeral home in order to arrange delivery of the flowers. The person at the other end of the phone responded by laughing when he was told the name of the deceased. As it turned out, the employee’s grandmother did in fact pass on and was waked at that particular funeral home, although the procession had taken place some three years ago.

The employer expressed some surprise to the funeral director that his employee would have relied on such a ridiculously easy reason to confirm. The funeral director told the employer that he would be surprised at how often he gets similar calls from other employers to check out the details of a death that actually occurred some distant time in the past. During their conversation, they mutually noted that this is a more common occurrence with workers who have entered the workforce for the first time.

As excuses go, requesting time off because of the fictitious death of a close family member pretty much falls in the same category as telling the teacher that the dog ate your homework. The fact that the funeral director and the employer determined this to be a problem mainly among new entrants into the workforce gives one pause for concern over the lack of imagination of those young people desperate for some time off and unwilling to put the effort in to come up with a reason that might actually check out. Everyone knows this excuse works better for older guys, like me, years after establishing a reputation of trust between you and the boss.

The event did not turn out well for the young employee. After only three weeks of employment, he found himself out looking for a new job while profusely and ineffectually apologizing to his employer for his deceit. If you find yourself needing to pass on some advice to a young person regarding a request for some time off at a new job, I suggest you share this story with them in hopes that their own efforts in the future will be more creative than this.

Note to editor: My column will be late next week. My dog died after he ate it for breakfast.

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