Matthew Broderick in Ferris Beuller's Day Off
Matthew Broderick in Ferris Beuller's Day Off

Be slick ... be sick

By Masood Boomgaard Time of article published Jul 6, 2011

Share this article:

Sick leave is one of the most brilliant inventions in history. It allows you to stay at home, rest and recuperate from whatever ailments have descended on your body with the express aim of making you incapable of life. Sick leave should be encouraged for those who are actually sick.

But from the moment sick leave was created, people have developed a variant: the “sickie”. It involves faking of an illness in order to spend the day at home doing nothing, playing Xbox or watching chick-flicks and cartoons.

However, many have been bust for taking a sickie - amateurs who don’t know how it’s done. This week, we tell you how to take that perfect sick day.



All sick days, like vacations, should be planned in advance. Only amateurs take sick leave when they’re actually sick. The real purpose of sick leave is to do all the things you don’t normally get to do, not to sleep and recover from illness - that, my friends, we do at our desks during work time. As a rule of thumb, you should know exactly what you’re going to be doing with your sick day at least 48 hours before you take one. For instance, check weather forecasts to see when would be a great day for the beach or the water park.

Of course, some of us have those mornings where we spontaneously decide we don’t want to be at work. Those can also be great for pulling sickies, but rather plan ahead.


Depending on where you work, pulling a sickie can be a bit challenging, mainly if your boss is a hard ass. In such instances you’re going to have to pull out all the stops prior to your planned sick day to convince management you ought not to be at work. Repeated coughing usually catches everyone’s attention, as does pretending to have the sniffles. Cough especially loud when the bosses are around. Do this often enough and this will not only agitate them, but alarm them too. You see, they’d rather send you home to be quarantined than have you “infect” dozens more and bring production to a standstill.

When they do hit you with the “you’re sounding terrible, you should go home” line, resist profusely. Say stuff like, “No, I’ll be fine. Cough. Cough” and, “I have to finish this project. Cough. Cough”. This will make you look like the office martyr, giving them more reason to send you home just so you don’t die and have to replace a dedicated worker.

It also helps you go to work looking dishevelled in the days leading up to your sickie. Just make sure you’re not reeking of alcohol. No one feels sorry for the office drunk.

Back story:

For those who insist on pulling the spontaneous sickie, you’re going to need a credible back story explaining your sudden illness. Get on the phone before 8am and inform at least two of your trusted colleagues that you will not be coming in to work and coach them through a back story that should include something about you eating bad seafood the night before or getting the runs from the curry served at the sales team dinner.

Throughout the day your buddies should audibly express concern about you and say stuff like, “I wonder how John is doing? He didn’t look good last night”. This should be done especially when management is around. At least one person needs to profess to have seen you throw up in the men’s room.

Once again, the cause of your illness should never be alcohol poisoning. The last thing you want is the bosses thinking that you’re a party animal that’s costing the company money.


Pulling a sickie is much more fun when done with company. Think Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Get a close mate or girlfriend on board and you can have a great deal of fun kicking back on company time. This should be fairly simple to co-ordinate if your mate works for another company or in a different department. However, if he works in the cubicle opposite you, you’re going to need co-ordinate excuses - eg, you both ate the same bad seafood. Make sure you have a witness. Note: you can only pull off one or two of these in a three-year cycle.

Two for the price of one:

Why take one day off when you can take two - it might even be in your interest. You see, too many people in the free world pull sickies on Mondays or on that day that falls between a public holiday and a weekend. This is seriously frowned upon and the reality is, even if you were actually puking bile on Monday, your boss assumes you’ve taken a long weekend. Your long-term credibility in the eyes of the boss is important, so if you’re pulling a sickie on a Monday be sure to take the Tuesday off too so that it looks like “real” sickness. Of course, you’ll need a sick note from a doctor but, hey, that can be worked around.

Lay low:

As mentioned before, the whole purpose of pulling a sickie is for you to kick back and enjoy yourself. However, this doesn’t give you licence to be brazen like those criminals who buy Mercs a week after pulling a bank job. Management has a knack of popping up when you least expect, like at the mall at 10am. Imagine how impressed your boss will be with you if he spotted you in the organic food aisle at Woolies moments after you called in saying you were dying of cholera…

As a rule of thumb avoid the malls when pulling a sickie, unless you’re going to the movies. In that case it needs to be in and out. If you must venture out, make sure it’s out of the comfort radius of your boss. In other words, if it’s a place that your boss could go to and return to the office within an hour you are probably risking it being there. Sure, you might say to yourself what are the odds of the boss being at Fruit & Veg City at 11am. Trust me, you don’t want to find out.


No sickie is complete without a doctor’s note saying that being at the office will cause you to die. The beauty of this is you don’t even need to have any real symptoms to get “treated” by your friendly GP. He’s happy to write your note so long as you pay his consult fee. And if you’ve got a friend who made it through med school, well then you can write your own sick notes. - Sunday Tribune

Share this article: