We ask a HR expert whether it's ever okay to pull a sickie to recover from a big night. 

Are you sitting at your desk right now, head pounding, wishing you hadn’t had that last espresso martini last night?

So you made the rookie mistake of drinking on a work night. Not judging, we’ve all been there.

If only there was a time machine, to go back and change your poor decision making. Not the drinking part, of course. That was hella fun! But your decision to go to work in your bedraggled state, when you could have just called in sick.

This week, we learnt a very important lesson about the willingness of workplaces to tolerate your boozy ways.

Tasmanian factory worker Avril Chapman was fired after calling in hungover on her birthday eve.

She left a voicemail for her boss, citing the company’s ‘golden rule’.

“Um it’s Anzac Day, my birthday, and I admit I have overindulged so I’m taking into account one of the golden rules, be fit for work, and I’m not going to be fit for work so I won’t be there.”

After five years working for the salmon factory, Avril was unceremoniously sacked, because apparently she voluntarily made herself sick.

While her termination was later ruled unfair by the Fair Work Commission, it got us wondering. What should she have done?

LISTEN: So you’ve established you’re not going to work. How do you tell your boss?

Essentially there are three options if you wake up feeling the after effects of a big night.

You can be honest, call in hungover and snuggle up in bed watching Netflix all day. You will, however, face the wrath of your boss upon your return.

You can be a bit sneaky and simply leave it at ‘I’m sick.’ After all, you’re dehydrated and vomiting. It may be self-inflicted, but no one can doubt the bags under your eyes. Just make sure your Insta story doesn’t give you away…


Option three is obviously fairly undesirable. You could suck it up and go to work anyway. (Watch the video at top of post for some survival tips on working while hungover.)

Hungover at work? Don't forget the sunnies. Image: Warner Bros.

In an effort to get to the bottom of this, we took the question straight to HR, with Mamamia's Head of People and Culture Liz Short weighing in on whether it's okay to call in hungover.

First things first, if you're still drunk - DON'T GO TO WORK.

"Lots of workplaces have zero tolerance policies for alcohol and drugs - so probably not advisable to go in if that's the case," she says.


"My view is that if you know you have work the next day, you should be responsible and know when to call it a night.  You should go to work unless of course you are physically unable or there is a safety risk."

Short also says you should consider whether drinking on a weeknight is really a good idea in the first place.

"I would be encouraging them to think about how much they value their job for the outcome (being hungover) to get in the way of their work," she says.

But sometimes you don't plan to get wasted on a Tuesday, those drink specials are just too tempting. And if that's the case, you might be able to get away with pulling a sicky. Just don't make a habit of it.

"Employees can use their sick days if they are sick. We can't specify what kind of 'sick' they are allowed to be. It's tricky - on the one hand it was great this person was honest but on the other, I kind of wonder why they didn't just call in 'sick'," our HR guru says.

"As a one off I could probably accept it - but if there is a pattern, e.g taking every Monday off after a big Sunday at the pub - then I'd have a problem."

So by the sounds of it, Avril did the right thing. Onya girl!

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