5 Winter Work Absence Excuses To Avoid

In an average week 21 percent of wage and salary workers take paid time off for work. But during the winter many factors conspire to increase this rate including bad weather and illness-related absences.

If you’re just starting a new job or working to maintain a high level of performance as you lead up to a performance review, you can’t afford to take paid time off too often. It’s particularly important for you to be at work on time even when the weather conspires against you.

Instead of leaving your career at the mercy of the season, start planning your winter work strategy now. Here are five common seasonal excuses that keep people out of work and how you can proactively avoid them.

“[I’m, My Child, My Spouse] is sick.”

Illness happens, and there’s no arguing that it is important for you to be there for your family when it does. But staying home doesn’t have to derail your workday.

Take a tip from public school teachers who have lesson plans on standby for when illness strikes. First, check in with your boss to make sure it’s within your company’s policies to allow employees to work from home during emergencies. Then as you work through your daily responsibilities, set aside non-time-sensitive assignments that are easy to complete while away from your workplace. When disaster strikes complete your stockpile of important-but-low-key projects.

“My alarm didn’t go off!”

With the changing seasons comes changing sleep cycles, leaving you to rely less on your body’s natural clock and more on your alarm clock. So when a power outage prevents that alarm from sounding off, you have little to no chance of making it into work on time.

The best way to counter the inevitable power outage is to shift to an earlier bedtime for the winter months. At first this might seem like an impossible task, and of course it can be difficult to balance among competing evening responsibilities such as dinner and childcare. But by making small, simple changes each week, you might be surprised how easy it is to adjust your bedtime.

Start by moving dinner up 15 minutes each day, which will set your evening habits into motion 15 minutes earlier. Once you’re used to that, slowly steal 15 minutes from other habits you enjoy in the evening, such as watching TV or reading books and magazines. Getting a more regular, longer night’s sleep will pay off with many benefits, one of which includes a more reliable wake-up time.

“My car won’t start.”

It’s hard enough to leave the house when the weather is cool and it’s dark in the morning. If you finally get out to your car only to find it won’t start, you might be tempted to throw in the towel and take a personal day.

Low temperatures have a way of making otherwise reliable cars act up. Schedule a check-in with your mechanic before bad weather hits and assess the state of the following:

  • Brakes, to make sure they don’t pull to one side or the other
  • Belts, hoses, containers and thermostat for breaks or leaks that could affect performance
  • Battery connection, to make sure it is functioning normally sans corrosion
  • Carbon monoxide leaks from your muffler and tail pipe system
  • Windshield, heaters, defrosters and wipers to make sure you have maximum visibility as you drive
  • Tires to make sure they are snow-ready for safe accelerating and braking on soft and hard snow

“I’m snowed in.”

Barring another Snowmageddon, getting to work on time when there’s snow on the ground is often more a battle of will than of reality. In Buffalo residents can make it into work with 20 inches of snow on the ground. But half that amount might shut down the government in Washington, D.C.

When snow hits, think of safety first and prevention second. Be prepared in advance with these transportation-related tips for snowy weather:

  • Park your car at the top or end of your driveway so you’re near to the road. If possible, park in a covered parking garage.
  • At night pull up your windshield wipers to keep them from freezing to your windshield.
  • Arrange for group transportation as a fallback to get to work, preferably by way of a coworker or friend who lives in a building with covered parking.
  • Stock your car with a long-handled windshield scraper, hand warmers and a shovel to take care of any snow plow snow that might have piled up in front of your car wheels.

“I fell in the snow,” or “I hurt my back shoveling.”

Each year emergency rooms across the country treat tens of thousands of snow-related injuries. That’s a lot of slips, slides and strains that can leave you bed-ridden without much notice to your employer.

When you know there is icy weather on the way take immediate precautions to ensure the safety of your immediate surroundings:

  • Invest in salt or other eco-friendly snow-melting tools.
  • Exercise and warm up before every snow shoveling session.
  • Take frequent breaks whenever you’re outdoors.
  • Practice proper posture and shoveling technique, such as pushing snow rather than lifting it.
  • Consider purchasing an ergonomic shovel.
  • Clear snow several times per day rather than one large shoveling job at a time.
  • Wear cool-weather clothing like gloves, hats and footwear.

Your paid time off should go to better things than being stranded near a snowed-in car. Take charge of your winter work schedule by taking proactive measures against these common winter work excuses today.