Playing Hookey, the Classy Way
March 19, 2013 3:49 PM   Subscribe

I am an hourly part time worker with no formal vacation time or sick leave, though I am theoretically entitled to unpaid leave whenever I'd ask, however due to a hiring freeze neither I nor more senior full time workers have had access to legitimate vacation time for some time. What is the classiest way to play hookey to see my partner 6+ hours away?

I have attempted to tell various people in charge of scheduling that I need at least one day off a month to visit my partner, especially when advance notice is required so we can make the necessary preparations. They have given lip service to helping me out, but things are chaotic as new people come in, others leave, and scheduling duties get waffled around. That there is a hiring freeze and they can only accept transfers is further complicating the schedule.

Recently, a coworker told it to me "straight": in the current status of things, even those with seniority are not able to get out of work unless they use sick leave, even if they have months of vacation time saved up. While I do not have formal sick leave or vacation time, theoretically they are supposed to grant flexible employees like me whatever leave we ask for, but in practice that is not the case for non-medical reasons. Medical reasons, on the other hand, are always respected: illness is rampant in my line of work, and medical leave must be granted. They have never asked me to substantiate illness or a doctor's appointment with documentation, though people were dropping like flies with sickness during my first four weeks working there, me included. It has been, and would be, incredibly easy for me to call in ill two hours before work on some Friday and shuttle off to see my partner for a weekend.

Nonetheless, it seems kinda shitty to call in sick and force others to fill in for me, even if it is common practice: an unusual number of people call in "sick" on Fridays and Mondays.

According to my coworker, the classiest way to do that is to send a text at 4 in the morning to a specified number and ask them to reply confirming they've received the message: the department prefers it this way, since then they have several hours to come up with something.

Still, I could feasibly mix up a fake doctor's appointment with my real appointments and put it in a neighboring city (which is common in these parts) and give them several week's notice so that they don't have to pull someone from another center and generally inconvenience them.

So what can I do, when I'll be planning on dates to visit my partner weeks or months in advance?
posted by Mouse on Mercury to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Why can't you "start to feel unwell" the night before. I (legitimately) have horrible periods and have given my managers the heads up when I know I won't be coming in the next day. I don't see why you would feel guilty about taking unpaid time off when they refuse to allow you to schedule it. That is their problem; you are an causal, part time employee, not a slave.
posted by saucysault at 3:58 PM on March 19, 2013 [6 favorites]

an unusual number of people call in "sick" on Fridays and Mondays.

Yeah, this is a dumb and self-defeating policy, and the fact that so many people are 'sick' on Fridays is just one unintended consequence.

If that's the system, personally I wouldn't find any problem with using the system the same way everybody else does.

To mix it up, maybe you could have your 'illness' on a Monday sometimes.
posted by flug at 4:09 PM on March 19, 2013

"I won't be into work on X date/tomorrow/what evs."

I have personal business to attend to.
posted by Max Power at 4:14 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

You need to use the word 'appointment'. It conjurs up all kinds of ideas.

Say something like this. "I will need next Friday off to attend an appointment. I just received notice that there was an opening and I've been waiting ages to get in to see this guy. I expect it'll take a couple of hours so I won't be able to come in at all unfortunately. I'll be back on Monday though."

Good luck. Don't feel guilty about it, it's just business as they say.
posted by Youremyworld at 4:20 PM on March 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

Nonetheless, it seems kinda shitty to call in sick and force others to fill in for me, even if it is common practice: an unusual number of people call in "sick" on Fridays and Mondays.

Your job environment sucks, everyone else has figured out how to work around it, why reinvent the wheel?
posted by jacalata at 4:23 PM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you need to take time off, and they are not being reasonable about accommodating it, then the second-best way you'll manage is one in which the disruption to your coworkers is minimal and you're not telling lies.

That is, notify your employer that you have set up an appointment that, including travel time, will take up your whole day, on a specific day at least a few weeks in advance. If they press on the nature of the appointment, say that it is a personal matter and leave it at that. Don't pretend to be sick, don't imply it is about an illness, and don't elaborate.
posted by davejay at 4:29 PM on March 19, 2013 [6 favorites]

Seconding do it the same way everyone else is doing it, but also use some of that hooky time for interviews. You won't find out if you're getting away with it or not until it's too late.
posted by bleep at 4:29 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

formally your work compensates you for not getting normal sick/pto/whatever days off in exchange for letting you take any non-paid time off. they're exploiting your social "wiring" to get around this by making you feel like you owe them to not take advantage of that flexibility.

unless you're "in the dog house" a hiring freeze means you have some kind of leverage. i don't think a few days a month is going to tip you from "good enough to keep around" to "it's easier to hire someone else."

i could understand being worried about putting extra work load on your co-workers. the "classy" thing to do would be to mention off-hand late in the after noon the day before that you're not feeling well because this gives them decisions to make about how they'll plan the next day.
posted by cupcake1337 at 10:56 PM on March 19, 2013

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