The Australian Sickie

Although I do not have actual working experience in Malaysia, I have plenty of friends who do.

Let’s take one of my mates for example:

  1. He wakes up at 5.30 AM to get ready and leave his house by 6.30 AM;
  2. the drive is from Subang Jaya to KL city and due to jams, he gets to work between 7.30-8.30 AM;
  3. sure, work starts at 9.00 AM but trying to get to work at 9.00 AM on the dot is impossible with the distance and the jams he has to travel through.
  4. At work, he does plenty, there is hardly any social conversation between employees (unless they’re looking to get chucked out;
  5. he finally gets off for lunch around 12-ish when he finishes whatever he’s on.
  6. After an hour’s lunch, he works his butt off again till 6.00 PM if he’s lucky but usually gets off at 7.00 PM.

So that’s almost 12 hours spent on work – Ouch.

Now, in Australia, the typical (when I say typical, I refer to what is definitely the major population) day at work would involve the following:

  1. Normally, it takes a max 1 hour to travel to work and with public transport it’s easy to consistently arrive at work around 9 AM;
  2. after a little bit of e-mail checking/replying, it’s then common to grab a coffee with your fellow employees to catch up both on work matters and socially;
  3. work starts again until 12 PM when you can head for lunch;
  4. taking a full hour of lunch means you arrive back at 1 PM;
  5. and after 4 more hours you can leave. Legally, 5 PM is the time all employees are allowed to leave – the slightly more ambitious may want to stay longer but again, this is referring to the major population.

So it’s pretty obvious that working life in Australia is more laid back and heck, more enjoyable. The sickie is what Aussies have dubbed as a day off work due to (supposed) illness and has become part of Australian culture. So much so that you can hear jokes that relate common Australian behaviour to it too – Kind of like those “Chinese are cheap” jokes you hear on Russell Peters, it’s offensive but you know it’s true.


The reason I am writing about this is due to this¬†article,¬†”Australia’s biggest ever sickie”. Tomorrow (Tuesday, 26th of January) is Australia Day hence a public holiday and everyone seems to be pulling a sickie today (Monday) to get that 4-day weekend. How has pulling a sickie become Aussie culture when working life is so much better here in Oz’? In Malaysia, trying to take a sick leave so blatantly fake just to get a long weekend is asking to get sacked.

It’s disappointing to say that I think Aussies are really taking their job security for granted.

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