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Corporations Hiring Hooky Hunters 610

No longer satisfied with your crinkled doctor's note, a growing number of corporations are hiring "Hooky Detectives." Private investigator Rick Raymond says he's staked out bowling alleys, pro football games, weddings and even funerals looking for people using sick days. From the article: "Such techniques have become permissible at a time when workers are more likely to play hooky. Kronos, a workforce productivity firm in Chelmsford, Mass., recently found that 57 percent of salaried employees take sick days when they're not sick — almost a 20 percent increase from statistics gathered between 2006 and 2008."
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Corporations Hiring Hooky Hunters

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  • by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:31PM (#34477850)

    These corporate sociopath CEO's have enough money to hire private investigators to stalk us. They can come up with whatever excuse or have no reason at all. These investigators have the power to ruin marriages, friendships, careers.

    What can we do about the Gestapo America []? BTW this article should be titled "Corporations hire professional stalkers to track employees outside of the workplace."

    • Ruin marriages and friendships? Are you taking the controversial stance on PIs finding out you're screwing your wife's coworker?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrex ( 25183 )

        J. Edgar Hoover approves of your comment.

      • by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:47PM (#34478166)

        Don't be fooled. This is a power play by employers to take even more power from the deunionized employee base. They want to destroy the middle class once and for all and the best way to do that is to reduce the employee to utter powerlessness and promote only the obsequious.

        If the boss gets pissed off, a team of investigators can permanently neutralize you. If you think the Union leader can protect you then they'll neutralize him too via investigation. It's a new way to find dirt on people, and it's creepy.

        So the PI uses the honey trap on you, you flirt with this new woman and now the PI gives that information to your boss. If you piss off your boss you can lose both your career and your marriage? Tell me how this can be avoided.

        • by Phreakiture ( 547094 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:06PM (#34478520) Homepage

          So the PI uses the honey trap on you, you flirt with this new woman and now the PI gives that information to your boss. If you piss off your boss you can lose both your career and your marriage? Tell me how this can be avoided.

          You could try being faithful to your wife . . . .

          As much as I hate the canard about "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide", there is a valid corollary: "If you've done nothing wrong, you won't get caught".

          • by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:21PM (#34478802)

            As much as I hate the canard about "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide", there is a valid corollary: "If you've done nothing wrong, you won't get caught".>

            Of course that's tempered by:

            If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

            You can easily get caught on things you didn't do. Not having done them is a useful defense, but these days the accusation is as damaging as the conviction. Just ask anyone wrongfully accused of sexual harrassment or child abuse.

            • by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @06:15PM (#34480400)

              Taking sick days when not sick is not the same as not answering police questions when done nothing wrong.

              Actually, I have no pity for people who call in sick, go bowling with their friends and then get caught. There's a fine line between privacy for privacy's sake and "privacy" invoked to hide actual misconduct.

              Sick days are for being sick. People abusing are to blame, not employers wanting their employees to fulfill their contract.

              If the employment contract is too unfair to fulfill, please join a union and do something about it. Going AWOL from a crappy contract is like cheating an ugly wife you do not love. It may be fun while it last, but it isn't going to help anyone and much drama if something finds out. So take the high road instead and do something with a little more forethought. Please.

              • by RollingThunder ( 88952 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @07:17PM (#34481088)

                Sick days are for being sick.

                I agree.

                I get sick days, personal well-being days, and vacation days.

                Sick days are for legitimate illness, short-notice.
                PWB is for "I am in a mental state where I can't see my ass coming in to work and being productive", short-notice.
                Vacation days are scheduled in advance.

                It works well. We're happy because we don't feel shackled to the desks, and the company's happy because it has predictability in who will be available, and both sides are happier because there's no falsehoods being perpetrated.

              • by jeko ( 179919 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @07:36PM (#34481286)

                Companies hire you for a 40-hour work week, and then feel no compunction about working you twice that. I know of more than one company that refuses to allow employees to take vacations -- always "too busy now, try again in a couple of months" -- and then institute "hour caps." effectively screwing workers out of their vacations. I know of others that refuse to allow legitimate comp time to be taken.

                Once upon a time, after working three 70-hour weeks back-to-back-to-back, and then being asked to put in a fourth week of the same, I came down with a good solid, three-day case of the "flu." To be honest, I actually did feel like hell.

                Workers start faking sick days when companies fail to honor their agreements on reasonable work weeks, vacations and comp time.

                Now, companies have started hiring private detectives to shadow workers outside of the job. Welcome back to the bad old days of the Pinkerton Detective Agency.


                During the labor unrest of the late 19th century, businessmen hired Pinkerton agents to infiltrate unions, and as guards to keep strikers and suspected unionists out of factories. The best known such confrontation was the Homestead Strike of 1892, in which Pinkerton agents were called in to enforce the strikebreaking measures of Henry Clay Frick, acting on behalf of Andrew Carnegie, who was abroad; the ensuing conflicts between Pinkerton agents and striking workers led to several deaths on both sides. The Pinkertons were also used as guards in coal, iron, and lumber disputes in Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania, as well as the Great Railroad Strike of 1877.

                The private detectives aren't there just to enforce sick days. They're also there to quash the unions you advocate as a solution.

                • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                  Don't you have labour laws to protect people from that kind of thing? In the EU the work/life balance is considered essential and there is an absolute cap of 48 working hours per in most jobs.

                  I find the difference in attitude towards work in the EU and the US interesting. Forgive me if I got the wrong impression but it seems that Americans think it's okay to let employers work people ragged, or if not okay at least legal. Employment seems to be a contract between you and the company and you get your protect

            • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @06:41PM (#34480648) Journal

              You can easily get caught on things you didn't do. Not having done them is a useful defense, but these days the accusation is as damaging as the conviction. Just ask anyone wrongfully accused of sexual harrassment or child abuse.

              You can not only be "caught" for things you didn't do, you can be accused of things which aren't wrong. And not only is the accusation damaging, any attempt at defending yourself just makes you look guilty.

          • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:22PM (#34478818)

            So the PI uses the honey trap on you, you flirt with this new woman and now the PI gives that information to your boss. If you piss off your boss you can lose both your career and your marriage? Tell me how this can be avoided.

            You could try being faithful to your wife . . . .

            As much as I hate the canard about "if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide", there is a valid corollary: "If you've done nothing wrong, you won't get caught".

            Until the PI agency is under it's quota for the month and decides to finger you for playing hooky when they realize they need to show your bean-counter COO that they're actually catching people. At least for a crime you get a trial. Getting fired over something like this is just as life ruining as being a felon these days.

          • Thank goodness no one has invented a device or program by which we can modify images or video to make it look like you've done something wrong.
            Imagine if they could crop a photo to make it look like you've done something wrong, like maybe make it look likeyou're having an affair with an under aged girl []. I'm glad we'll be quite safe until someone invents deception [].

          • What if you're doing something legal, but embarrassing. Dancing in a gay burlesque show? Supporting a fringe political movement? Out at a competitor's corporate event with your girlfriend who works there? It's never as simple as you're making it sound. Hell, someone could spin something legitimate you're doing into something nefarious. Like, say, having sexual intercourse with a woman who says you didn't want to wear a condom...

          • there is a valid corollary: "If you've done nothing wrong, you won't get caught".

            Do you actually think no innocent person has ever been convicted of a crime they didn't commit? No one has ever been framed for a crime by someone with something to gain from framing them?

            Or did you just post without thinking?

        • by al0ha ( 1262684 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:08PM (#34478562) Journal
          >> Tell me how this can be avoided.

          Well one way would be for the average worker to get a clue and stop living hand-to-mouth, spending every dollar they make to buy shit they don't really need...

          In money there is power, but the average worker does not see that. If all workers had enough saved to tide them over for a few months, then workers could call the shots on how they should be treated and stand up to their a-hole bosses and corporations. I've done it and so has my wife, to the betterment of our lives and careers.

          But seeing as the average worker is saddled with so much debt they need their weekly paycheck just to stay afloat; they have essentially placed all the power in the hands of a-hole bosses and shitty corporate environments who, believe me, realize this fact and take full advantage of it.
          • by HungryHobo ( 1314109 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:22PM (#34478822)

            Most people don't have the privilege of just deciding to have more money.

            I do happen to be lucky enough to have the means to make sure I have enough money to tide me over for a reasonable time but I'm not so arrogant as to delude myself that everyone is in a similar position.

            Many people get stuck living hand to mouth despite spending wisely and despite living as modest a life as is possible.
            My parents spent years living barely above the poverty line despite both of them working and both of them living in a 1 room apartment with no furniture other than a bed and a table.

            And being poor makes it harder to spend less.
            With a little extra money and a little extra time you can afford to buy lots of some food when there's a good sale.
            Storage space hits that one as well, you can't buy 6 months worth of toilet paper when it's on sale for a third the normal price when you live in a tiny single room with no extra space.
            With the money to buy and run a car you have far more jobs available to you and you can go to cheaper shops.

            but if you can't escape the hand to mouth stage then you'll get stuck spending more and getting less.

            it's not merely a choice as you so arrogantly imply.
            People end up in poverty often through no fault of their own and it can be very hard to escape.

            • I have no mod points today, so simply... Well said!

            • by IICV ( 652597 )

              This is otherwise known as the Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Economic Injustice [].

              I'm pretty sure there's almost nothing Terry Pratchett hasn't written about at one point or another.

            • by eth1 ( 94901 )

              I mostly agree with you, when you're talking about actual poverty. However, the GP said "average worker". I think it was CNNMoney that had an average net worth calculator (this was a year or two ago) that said the average net worth of someone my age (33) was about $8k. That should give a pretty good idea how much debt the "average" person with a house full of stuff and a car is carrying.

              I think the GP is right. If you have a reasonable job, there's not much excuse for not having a 6-12 month "oh shit" or "f

              • by tsm_sf ( 545316 )

                If you have a reasonable job, there's not much excuse for not having a 6-12 month "oh shit" or "flip off the boss" fund, other than keeping up with the Joneses.

                "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." -- Lennon

                It really sounds like you (and the GP) just haven't lived enough to put yourself in other people's shoes. For every person still paying off their Hummer I'll find you ten that struggle with rent and food money every month.

                Unfortunately, the socioeconomic narrative that's always been pushed in the US is that:
                1) Hard work always pays off, and
                2) If you're not getting the pay-off you're really not working hard

                This is somet

            • by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @05:49PM (#34480062)

              What I find strange is how the working and middle classes feel entitled to so much more than they did only a few years ago in the 1980s. I had two college-educated parents with jobs, and I still had to share a room with my sister until I was ten. We had a small 19" TV and an antenna, because, according to my dad, it was 'absurd' to spend $20/month for cable. We crammed our family of five into a tiny Mazda when the station wagon was in the shop. The heat never came on until mid-November, and it never went above 62F.

              Now it seems that even welfare moms feel entitled to cell phones, cable TV, mid-range sedans, 70-degree apartments, and endless subsidized premium cereal for their already obese children. Seriously, try restricting any of the above for the people who are collecting government assistance, and watch as you are made out to be a corporate villain.

              There was recently a news article about how the local groceries have to staff-up for the first of the month. The (stay-at-home) mom (of five) complained how the benefits weren't enough, since she had to ration the cereal or it would run out and the kids would have to eat oatmeal for the rest of the month. My eyes bugged-out. Of course you have to ration 'sugar pops', I got one bowl a week, oatmeal was the standard breakfast of the middle class.

              We need a hardcore reality check and fiscal literacy like no other culture in history.

              • by chebucto ( 992517 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @09:27PM (#34482246) Homepage

                Your post reads like a 'back in my day' followed by a 'kids these days'.

                You were not deprived in the least if you lived in a two-car home where your parents made you wear a sweater in the winter. None of this is uncommon today.

                There are some things today that may be different than yesterday - cultural acceptance of debt is the big one, in my mind. But the ins and outs are complicated, much more so than your sour kveltching.

                All that said, to go back to the point, the middle class (and the poor) really had the brown end of the stick for the past while. It turns out that the medina household income (warning: xls) [] has been mostly stagnent for the middle class, but rising for the rich. In adjusted 2009 dollars, incomes for the following years were

                Quartile - 2009 - 1999 - 1989 - 1979
                1 ------ - 11k -- 13k -- 12k -- 11k
                3 ------ - 49k -- 52k -- 48k -- 45k
                5 ------ - 295k - 302k - 230k - 182k

                So the poor are making the same now as they did in 1979, while the rich are making almost twice as much. (The income disparity gets much worse as you look at a smaller slice of the rich). The middle, meanwhile, is making about the same they made when the berlin wall fell.

          • by pogle ( 71293 )

            And how do we cope when we have the necessary savings accrued, and are simply unable to find a new job before they run out? When my former company closed their doors quite unexpectedly, I had a comfortable safety budget (a year+ inc unemployment), but thats been over a year ago now, and hundreds of applications later have netted me 4 total interviews, only one of which panned out (and is just for a short term contract gig that does nothing but hurt my future employability by keeping me out of my normal fie

        • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

          Id the investigator and a bullet between his eyes will do the trick nicely.

        • Or...
          1. They work for a Unionized employee base and the Boss needs a PI to fire the slacker. As they need real proof before they do any HR. I have worked for a lot of companies Big Ones little one, with higher management with the low men on the organization Unionized and Un-unionized and let me tell you this there is no attempt to keep the people down usually there are attempts to bring people up. However most people will not allow them to do things like a Raise and more Responsibility. So they stay at t

    • by RsG ( 809189 )

      These corporate sociopath CEO's...

      I'm beginning to wonder if the best solution might be a law mandating that certain jobs require a psych evaluation before hiring. Confidential, of course. The specific criteria being conditions likely to lead to abuse of power, like antisocial personality disorder (aka psychopathy or sociopathy, two terms now out of use).

      Put another way, "sociopaths" assume leadership positions in business precisely they aren't held back by conventional barriers, like empathy or ethics. They can out-compete regular folks

      • by ConceptJunkie ( 24823 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:11PM (#34478622) Homepage Journal

        You don't think most of the people at the top aren't sociopaths?

        The sad fact is that to reach those high levels, it's not only not a hindrance, it's practically a requirement. It's not an indictment of successful people, but rather the way "the system" works. Sociopathy is ultimately rewarded, while honesty, thrift, efficiency... all those things we were taught are good are often impediments to rising through the ranks.

      • by arivanov ( 12034 )

        Sociopathy does not work in the long term. It provides short term gain and hence it is the fashion of the day.

        In the long term not having empathy is a fatal flaw for a manager. If a manager does not have empathy he does not know how far to turn the screws before the workforce revolts. So he turns them too tight and the team fails to deliver, leaves or outright revolts and tries to lynch mob the management.

        I have seen that more than once. In fact, In fact, I have seen that more than once with the same person

        • by spun ( 1352 )

          While this is a nice theory, nothing in my experience seems to bear out your conclusions. By your theory, corporations should become less sociopathic over time. I've seen just the opposite. For your theory to really work, all workers would have to have the realistic option of leaving any employer that demonstrates sociopathic behavior, at any time. The elites have done everything in their power to ensure that as many working class people are as desperate as possible, and unable to effectively resist sociopa

        • Sociopathy does not work in the long term. It provides short term gain and hence it is the fashion of the day.

          In the long term not having empathy is a fatal flaw for a manager. If a manager does not have empathy he does not know how far to turn the screws before the workforce revolts. So he turns them too tight and the team fails to deliver, leaves or outright revolts and tries to lynch mob the management.

          Does this work long enough for the manager to become filthy rich?

          Does the inevitable failure of this mo

    • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:15PM (#34478708)

      Sounds like a modern interpretation of the iron law of wages []. If your belt can be tightened, someone should tighten it for you because you owe it to your company. If you aren't getting sick, you don't need days off because you owe that time to the company, and you'd just fritter it away having babies or something which would only decrease your productivity, or relaxing which might make you care less about the company's success. Rather than give you that time or give you the money spent on these stalkers, it's in everyone's best interests if the company keeps an eye on you.

    • by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:30PM (#34478960) Journal

      Will the executives be subject to this also? I can suggest staking out golf courses, marinas (when weather is nice of course), Martha's Vineyard (or wherever the local trophy home location is), and their secretary's apartments.

      The title of the article is deceptive though. It isn't about people being stalked because they took a sick day or two off, it is about people abusing long term medical leave. That I have to admit I don't have a problem with them investigating. If you say you are unable to work because you can't walk and they catch you helping your neighbor move a sofa down 5 flights of stairs then I'd agree you should be busted.

      Investigating someone for being out 3 days with the flu strikes me as a bit petty though. Maybe the problem at that point is your employees need some vacation time or you just have lousy moral. Firing people left and right won't make the remaining ones any better and won't guarantee you will magically get a flood of super workers to replace them (or that they won't end up as unhappy as the first bunch).

  • Gee I dunno, I'd think that getting married or being buried might be a good excuse to not show up to work.
    • by elucido ( 870205 ) * on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:33PM (#34477878)

      Why are we allowing employers to put us into neo-feudalism? Can't you see these employers are doing what government wants to do but can't get away with?

      • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:13PM (#34478668) Homepage Journal

        No, the real question is why are they so STUPID!!!

        I agree that there is a strong neo-feudalism movement afoot. I don't think it's any sort of conspiracy, it's merely that class of people doing the type of things that they are prone to do, and neo-feudalism is the logical end-game. But I still assert that it is STUPID, because serfs don't buy the company's products. Each company seems to have this idea that they can drive THEIR employees down into the dirt, and "somebody else" will buy their products, presumably other company's employees. But when all of the companies are doing this, the pool of "somebody else" dwindles. It's just not a sustainable model.

        I suspect that in the modern globalized world US companies expect that the growing middle class in the Far East will buy their products. But even if they can either eliminate every US worker or drive every US worker's pay down to 3rd world levels, their products will STILL have the overhead of an astronomically overpaid executive suite. What's worse is that the executive suite has generally grown addicted to cost reduction as the means of profit improvement. Most of them aren't worth spit in terms of bringing truly innovative products to market, improving the revenue side of the equation. (Reality distortion field aside, and though from everything I've heard he's a real prick, I have a strong sense of respect for Steve Jobs for just this reason.)

        Congress isn't doing spit about it because:
        1 - They won't cross their big donors.
        2 - Republicans tend to believe that the wealthy are that way because they deserve it, and therefore they have the recipe for success, and need to be left alone to continue fostering success. (Particularly in the current situation, I believe that the "recipe for success" is short-term, a catastrophe in the making for the rest of the country and only a cushy retirement plan for those execs.)

  • Maybe you should give your workforce a bit more vacation time, 5 weeks enough?

    • Re:Vacation time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by emj ( 15659 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:34PM (#34477904) Journal

      This is a list of the amount of paid days you are required to give your employees:

      Finland 30
      Frankrike 30
      Förenade Arab Emiraten 30
      Estland 28
      Litauen 28
      Polen 26
      Danmark 25
      Grekland 25
      Luxemburg 25
      Sverige 25
      Österrike 25
      Israel 24
      Malta 24
      Tyskland 24
      Ungern 23
      Portugal 22
      Spanien 22
      Cypern 21
      Egypten 21
      Marocko 21
      Rumänien 21
      Sydafrika 21
      Australien 20
      Belgien 20
      Bulgarien 20
      Irland 20
      Italien 20
      Japan 20
      Lettland 20
      Nederländerna 20
      Nya Zeeland 20
      Slovakien 20
      Slovenien 20
      Storbritannien 20
      Tjeckien 20
      Sydkorea 19
      Malaysia 16
      Libanon 15
      Hong Kong 14
      Pakistan 14
      Singapore 14
      Taiwan 14
      Vietnamn 14
      Indien 12
      Indonesien 12
      Kanada 10
      Thailand 6
      Filipinerna 5
      USA 0


      • by emj ( 15659 )

        This does not include days like Halloween and Christmas etc.

      • Is there an English translation of those names? I can understand most of them, but Frankrik? I assume that Förenade Arab Emiraten is supposted to be United Arab Emirates. Estland, Litauen, Grekland, Sverige? Those are a few that I don't have the slightest clue.
        • Translations would be nice, but to me, the key point is the last line.

          USA: 0

          • by Binestar ( 28861 )
            Yeah, but that is what they are required to give. The real question is what do they actually give? I work for a small company (>5 employees) and get 15 days vacation, 1 day sick, 6 holidays for a total of 22 paid days off per year. My last job I got 6 holidays and 10 vacation days for a total of 16 days off. How many people are really working with no paid time off in the US above the minimum wage/burger flipper levels?
            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              The point is that this is the minimum required amount enforced by the law. You cannot summarily take this time away and not face enormous fines. Except in USA because there aren't any.

              For the record, I live in Finland, which is on top of that list with 30 days, and we're still considered among the top economies in the world in terms of competitiveness. Thing is, if a key employee needs to work extra, he can stockpile these days (my father does that for example). Once he had to work two years without leave d

            • by IICV ( 652597 )

              Um, here's [] a better list (and in English).

              The US is in bold and has a star. Do you know why? Because there's no minimum requirement, that is apparently the average at several large firms. This means that the US's statistic is essentially bullshit; if they measured the other countries' days off using the same criteria as the US's, all of the other statistics would get bumped up (after all, the values can't go down due to regulation, so the only direction they can go is up).

              Anyway, as for your 22 paid days of

        • by emj ( 15659 )

          From google translate:

          Finland 30
          France 30
          United Arab Emirates 30
          Estonia 28
          Lithuania 28
          Poland 26
          Denmark 25
          Greece 25
          Luxembourg 25
          Sweden 25
          Austria 25
          Israel 24
          Malta 24
          Germany 24
          Hungary 23
          Portugal 22
          Spain 22
          Cyprus 21
          Egypt 21
          Morocco 21
          Romania 21
          South Africa 21
          Australia 20
          Belgium 20
          Bulgaria 20
          Ireland 20
          Italy 20
          Japan 20
          Latvia 20
          Netherlands 20
          New Zealand 20
          Slovakia 20
          Slovenia 20
          UK 20
          Czech Republic 20
          Korea 19
          Malaysia 16
          Lebanon 15
          Hong Kong 14
          Pakistan 14
          Singapore 14
          Taiwan 14
          Vietnam 14
          India 12
          Indonesia 12
          Canada 10

          • There's something wrong with your translation, USA still gets 0! Maybe you should try to translate to corporate-speak; this usually changes the facts in no time.

    • Ya, that was covered in the documentary "Sicko", the US doesn't give time off, and many people do at least some WORK during their vacation. It is suspected this leads to poor heath.

  • by slk ( 2510 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:33PM (#34477874)
    Instead of having to police sick days, a simpler solution would be to combine sick days and vacation days into "earned time off" or similar. Let the employee use the time as they see fit, no policing required, and you probably get better morale in the deal too.
  • by IICV ( 652597 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:33PM (#34477888)

    It still counts as a sick day if you're taking the day off for your mental health, right?

    Of course, if American employers would just provide a reasonable number of vacation days, this wouldn't be an issue; unfortunately it seems like the company has to squeeze you for every last ounce of productivity, even when squeezing less might make you more productive.

    • Exactly, I call them "Sick of work days".

      • I always say I'm calling out sick due to an acute case of "anal myopia".

        As in, "I can't see my ass going in to the office today".
    • The cellphone with twitter and facebook so they know where you are at all times and can contact you at all times. GPS tag on your car, in your phone. And now private investigators so they can monitor our behavior?

      When those private investigators gain state of the art surveillance technology they'll be able to do a lot more than this article is describing. You piss off the boss and he can ruin your life literally.

      • It's not as bizarre and unlikely as you are hoping it is. Companies like HP sees no problem in doing all sorts of spying on their employees. Companies see no problem in making employees sign a "anything you create on or off company time belongs to us" agreements. They would certainly see no problem with "as long as you are employed by us, you agree to make available to us [this information]." There are no laws against it, therefore it is legal. And if it is legal, it is right and good. Also, it will t

    • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:17PM (#34478750)

      For us it's not a matter of "reasonable number of vacation days". I've got way more vacation days than I'll ever use. Our sick days and vacation days are also out of the same pool.

      Sometimes though, you really just don't feel like coming in. I'm not talking habitually skipping on work, but maybe 2 or 3 days out of the year I'll wake up and just be like "You know what? FUCK going into work today." I've got the vacation time + a lot more, but a day off just for R&R is supposed to have 5 days notice. I usually don't know 5 days in advance when I'm going to be in that mood. So, even though they're all out of the same pot, there's just less paperwork involved in calling in and saying your sick.

  • by line-bundle ( 235965 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:35PM (#34477916) Homepage Journal

    I don't get it. Work is not school.

  • They put all the days off in one pool. Sick, vacation, and personal. You mismanage and run out you don't get paid. You are allowed to carry quite a bit so there is no fear of being short of days when needed IF you plan well.

    • It's so relaxing not being able to take vacation because you want to be able to maintain a reasonable number of sick days. I don't know what I did back when we had sick days and I actually had to use vacation time for *gasp* vacation time.

  • Dear Management:
    1. Change "sick" days to "personal" days.
    2. Treat employees like adults..
  • Because I'm sure they're not doing the same thing.

  • i was going to make a snide joke: how can a private eye spy on a guy in a dark basement room with no windows, who doesn't eat, sleep or use the bathroom (real WoW payers use Depends!)

    but then i thought: if you are playing WoW instead of going to work today, you really are suffering from a kind of sickness, aren't you?

    and therefore, you are using your sick day appropriately

  • NOT sick days! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:37PM (#34477970)

    The only examples provided were of employees suspected of fraud while on medical leave.

    I see ZERO examples of a private dick being dispatched because someone took a sick day.

  • by dazedNconfuzed ( 154242 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:37PM (#34477996)

    Employee longevity has dropped from 30-some years to about 3. Maybe corporate hiring policy should take that into account when doling out vacation time. I may not have been with the company for long, but I do have 20 years behind me and would like a new position to start out with something more than 2 weeks off.

    • You are supposed to NEGOTIATE for that. You tell them at the interview that is something you would like. Tell them what you have now and tell them you do not want to have less. They might offer resistance citing "policy" but believe me, they do it all the time for sought-after people. I recall one time I was bargaining with a potential employer. They were really pretty damned far from where I was living. I wanted some sort of transportation allowance or some such thing. They refused. I didn't accept

    • I just got a job at JCPenney, and their vacation policy is based off of the total number of years worked in your adult life, not the number of years worked with them. You can easily start with four weeks of vacation.

  • by chemicaldave ( 1776600 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:39PM (#34478030)

    If we're overworked, the environment sucks, the work itself sucks, or any combination of those, then companies shouldn't be surprised. The idea of a "mental health" sick day shouldn't be seen as absurd. It's one reason why the best and smaller companies offer more vacation even to new hires.

    Unfortunately some companies (and the US work environment in general) really dont give a shit about their employees well being. Oh how I wish we had European workplace rules. At least we're not Japan.

    • And by it, I mean the corporate machinery, which includes the leadership of many corporations who see their employees as means to an end rather than the end itself.

      Corporations also are trying to take on the role once held by government. This conveniently will allow Sarah Palin to team up with Mitt Romney and Rand Paul to bring moral values into the workplace while at the same time forcing us to be in that place for longer and longer hours. And if we get sick of it then we have to deal with an investigation

  • Paid Leave (Score:4, Informative)

    by cobrausn ( 1915176 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:43PM (#34478094)

    The U.S. Military, which is known for working people a lot harder than most corporations, still gives 30 days a year of paid leave. No 'Sick Days'. You could not take days off and build up 60 days if you wanted to. Anything over that was just paid back to you at end of year. It was the best policy I have ever worked under.

    Now you couldn't always take your leave when you wanted to, for obvious reasons, but it worked and it's good for morale.

  • by marcsiry ( 38594 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:45PM (#34478134) Homepage

    ...on the Sunday morning when I'm on an eight hour outage call starting at 4AM...

    or the Monday night when I stay at the office until 10 working on a time sensitive launch...

    do they turn the "hooky" clock backwards in that case?

    • by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @04:14PM (#34478688)

      Seriously. I worked as an Assistant MIS Director at a university. I worked my way up from student worker.

      My boss complained when I came in at 8:05 AM after staying until 10:00 PM the night before, and I didn't get overtime!

      I told her, "Fine, but be careful of what you wish for. From now on, I will come in at 8:00 on the dot every morning. But I will take a break from 10 AM to 10:15 AM, no matter who is here, what they want or what's on fire. I will leave for lunch at noon exactly and I will come back at 1. I will leave at 5 on the dot, and don't expect me to stay a minute later. If you want to count time, that's what we'll do."

      Sure enough, since we were hopelessly understaffed, there was a line in my cubicle at 10 AM. Too bad. I put up a pre-printed sign that said, "On Break" and made them wait. There was a major problem right before lunch the same day, but I went ahead and left it. (The network admin had to struggle through it, but he applauded me for doing the right thing.) When I came back at 1, she brought me into her office and told me that she had rethought it and that I was right!

  • This is such BS. If my company did that I would try to organize a massive Hooky Day! I am not a big fan of the union scene but this is just the sort of crap that causes people to get together and create them. Corporations simply need to understand that running on a skeleton crew is what makes them less productive!

    Overworked employees make more mistakes, hate their jobs more, have overall poorer health which affects productivity, and facilitates the installation of a revolving door at the front. No matte

  • That's why it's called "flexible time off," not "sick days" you fucking fascists.
  • If they're sick enough or they have sick kids, most people where I work stay home and work some from home. Otherwise, they come to the office sick and spread their germs. That way more people get sick.

    Businesses used to give most workers paid sick leave. I suppose that's another disappearing benefit.

    I'm sure there are those who would abuse it but this hooky detective stuff is nothing but intimidation.

  • I've said this in front of management where I work, its my time and ill use it how I want. The only thing they warn about is if you run out of time and get sick, but then there is fmla (if you don't mind not getting paid)
    if I don't get sick very often, its not fair that I can't still use accumulated benefit time just as much as someone who is of lesser health.
  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @03:57PM (#34478376) Homepage

    If any of y'all bothered to RTFA (madness, I know), you'd have found that they aren't talking about random one-off sick days. They are investigating people on long-term disability leave. Taking a sick day because your job is stressful is not the issue here, and frankly would not be worth hiring a private dick. These people are on extended periods of paid leave for what are supposed to be debilitating health issues - the whole point of being off work is because you're not in any shape to do the work. If you throw out your back, and they give you 6 months of paid leave to rest and recover, it sort-of looks bad if you start major renovations on your house the following week. It also constitutes insurance fraud, something a tad more serious than a few I.T. guys taking the day off to play Cataclysm.

    Given that I know of a bunch of people who are exploiting the system right now, shafting their fellow coworkers, driving up the premiums, and of course sticking the honest ones with overtime to make up for it, well I feel no sympathy for the hypocrites and I whole-heartedly endorse these investagators. Hell, we just outed one a few months back. Not only did this person have a long history of feigning chronic pain and stress, but she was doing it twice! When she was on leave from one job, she'd work at a 2nd, and vice versa. Once the taxman is done tearing her a new one, she gets to defend herself in court against two insurance firms. Not that I like the insurance racket any, but someone needs to punish these socially defective crooks.

    • God the mods are gullible sometimes, all you have to do is call everyone stupid and say RTFA and the mods are like "oh yeah, they really should *mod up*".

      "Raymond investigated an employee at a Florida health organization who called in sick with the flu for three days."

      "In 2009, four firefighters in Haverhill, Mass., were suspended after a private investigator, hired by the mayor, caught them attending hockey games and engaging in other blatantly non-sick-day activities."

      And then there's the 'easy' solution,

  • by theNAM666 ( 179776 ) on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @06:09PM (#34480296)

    From the referenced article:

    >This summer, Middletown, Pa., schoolteacher Leslie Herneisey -
    >a three-time Teacher of the Year nominee - was arrested and
    >charged with lying to colleagues about having an inoperable brain
    > tumor so she could take extended sick leave.

    I love journalists. Since when is lying to colleagues an offense you can be arrested for?

  • by RabidMonkey ( 30447 ) <> on Tuesday December 07, 2010 @06:26PM (#34480512) Homepage

    I wish and hope that some day companies will start to address mental health as well as physical heath, specifically related to sick days. If you have a sniffle, they tell you not to come in to work, you'll make someone sick, but if you're stressed out, unable to sleep, on-call for weeks, going through a breakup/divorce, have sick parents etc, and can't handle the mental strain, then you're SOL. Work on a salary? you know all those extra hours you put in for free for the company? Want to get something *back* from them? yeah, right ...

    "Mental Health" days are widely recognized by non-management types as beneficial, but you don't see companies promoting them. 'take a vacation day' is the common line, but when you're only provided with 10 of them a year , it's awefully 'expensive' to take one because your boss has had you working 12 hour days for 2 weeks and you just need 1 freakin day off to sleep, do laundry, maybe buy some real food for a change.

    But seriously, mental health, when you work in a job that is focused on mental performance (as much of IT/geekery is), is just as, or more, important as physical health. I can sit and read documents/manuals, catch up on email, update a few spreadsheets etc with a cold, but if I'm tired/stressed/"out of it", I'm next to useless.

    Taking care of employees isn't a concern of companies any longer, if it ever was, despite the fact that giving a little can get them a lot. Policy, process, executive bonuses are all worked around 'you must be in your desk working from x to y and always being productive, or else', instead of the realization that we aren't machines and our brains are more valuable when they're functional than not.


Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.