Dear EFAP: playing hooky

Thank you to those who have written to “Dear EFAP” for input on your dilemmas. As you are aware, we read every inquiry that comes in but we are only able to print a small selection of responses.  Our “pithy” answers are modeled after the lighter hearted Dear Abby style and are grounded in common sense.  If your issues require a more personalized level of support please call EFAP (1-800-505-4929) and we can confidentially book you a counselling appointment with a senior level therapist.

We welcome all inquiries – please submit these to All printed responses use the anonymous descriptor that you sign your inquiry with and do not reveal any identifying information.  Our goal is to support you through insight and common sense.

Below is our response to the next selection – enjoy!

Dear EFAP,

It’s nice weather  now. I hate my job, and I don’t want to be  at work especially when there is nice weather outside .  So…is it OK to call in sick when I am not really sick?


Contemplating playing hooky

Dear Contemplating playing hooky

My friend, oh my, I do hear that you’re not very happy with your job and more on that in a minute, but calling in sick when you are not sick is fraudulent and it is time theft. So, is it ok to do? Simply put  – no.

Now let’s look at what the real problem is. Why do you not like your job? The reason for that is something to look at,  rather than supporting you to  dodge it by taking time off . Ideally, it would be great if you could speak with your supervisor  and /or co-workers about what is bothering you at work, and jointly  figure out a solution . But if that feels too big to consider as a first step,  please know that you are not alone. Consider coming in and confidentially talking it out with one  us here at EFAP . We  might be able to help you process what it is you are not liking and your feelings around it, and may be able to  helping you  design  a solution, and thus  get  some  resolution. Please know that calling in ill when you are not is not the answer. Let’s instead support you to help solve the problem. Onward…


  1. Respect says:

    Not to mention when someone calls in “sick” staffing needs to find a replacement and paying two employee adds costs to health care. If there is no one available to call in for the shift then the rest of the staff in the department will have to pick up extra duties that adds to their heavy workloads. This does not reflect a respectful workplace and there are repercussions in many areas.

  2. Hooky or Stigma? says:

    I read this piece with some interest. I think there is a fine line here, playing hooky is of course NOT acceptable. However, I think it is important to first make sure that the person in the original post is in fact just playing hooky with what we used to call the “Whistler Flu”, in the days where us poor schmucks working for a wage could afford to ski at Whistler.

    The other possibility is that what this worker is describing is burn out, depression, anxiety, or trauma (which may or may not come from the workplace). In this instance the day off is not playing hooky it is a sick day due to MENTAL sickness. Over the years I have watched workers come to work in distress, mentally not well enough to bring their A game or even a game at all. As one who worked for many years in mental health, working very hard to have the community accept that mental health IS VALID HEALTH I was surprised at the way we treated co-workers who had mental health issues and had to take time off. We will do anything to not have to admit to our co-workers, supervisors or employers that we have mental health issues. I have watched workers shamed for taking time for mental health issues, and I have watched people come to work sick (both physically and mentally) because they know if they exceed the allowable number of hours they will be brought in for the meeting with HR and fear the response if they were to admit to having a health issue, much less a mental health issue (regardless of whether that fear is grounded in fact or experience or not).

    We still have some distance to go as a health care agency who champions the destigmatization of mental illness. For many people it is safer to call it “playing hooky” than to say “I am not mentally well and I need a day off”.

    So, while I agree that “playing hooky” is not OK, sometimes that is a safer euphemism for mental health days and we need to create a workplace where it is acceptable to deal with mental health “head on” and where people comfortably and qucikly engage with our EFAP or other mental health supports garnering responses of “good for you taking care of yourself” rather than “should you be telling people that?” when we let people know we are doing so.

    But just to make it perfectly clear, so as not to get flamed… NO I am not saying skviing off is OK. I just think some sensitive inquiry is needed to make sure that is what is in fact happening.

    1. It’s interesting how few comments there seem to be. I belive that all of us, as responsible adults and team members, recognize that ‘playing hooky’ belongs back in middle scholl. If one has a supportive and nurturing work environment, then coming to work allows us to contribute in the adult way that feeds our spirits. Having said that, sometimes it can be Just Too Much…..and I am all in favour of tthe concept of a Mental Healath Day. Other organizations lump sick and vactaion time together and there has been research to show that a couple of “Personal Days”, taken at short notice, no questions asked are most beneficial. Most remain unused, but provide comfort and assurance to the staff, just knowing they are there. Some folks need more time off than others. We can try leaving the judgements behind. By the way, where is EFAP if some one wanted to drop by? Thanks

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