During the long years I spent building my plumbing company, from a one-man band into a multi-million-pound business, I pretty much heard it all when it came to crazy employee excuses.
There was the guy who demanded an entire week off because, he claimed, he’d burnt his mouth eating a ‘too hot’ sausage. One woman wanted to stay at home all day as her cat hadn’t drunk its milk.
Another favourite was the employee who refused to come to work because she was worried she’d catch ‘bird flu‘ — the last time I checked, we didn’t have any chicken coops on site.
And I even had someone insisting on paid time off to attend a lengthy birthday celebration for — wait for it — the local postman.
All business owners, I suspect, have to deal with shirkers — the party-loving young man who rings in with a mysterious illness every Monday morning, or the woman who goes to the dentist so many times you start to wonder if she has any teeth left to fix.
But nothing, surely, has been such a gift to Britain’s workshy as the concept of the ‘male menopause‘. As the Daily Mail has reported in a series of eye-popping exposés, dozens of Britain’s councils, universities, corporations, police forces and fire services have developed ‘protocols’ for this fantasy affliction, issuing ‘guidance’ to bosses about how to deal with it.
Nothing, surely, has been such a gift to Britain’s workshy as the concept of the ‘male menopause’
The female menopause is, of course, a well-understood — and very real — biological process. The male equivalent, as even the NHS — that bastion of woke-thinking — acknowledges, simply doesn’t exist. (Yes, men’s testosterone levels are thought to decline by roughly one per cent a year from the age of 40, but in almost every case, this has no serious effects.)
Nevertheless, a raft of organisations have come up with ludicrous advice for the ‘manopause’: including, inevitably, NHS trusts themselves, one of which allows staff to take a year’s paid leave if they suffer from the ‘condition’.
Recommendations include giving portable fans to men to ease the discomfort of ‘hot flushes’ and awarding sick pay to deal with ‘symptoms’. One union has claimed men face bullying over the male menopause, and warns sternly that employers have a ‘duty of care’ to protect blokes who are supposedly going through it.
And, frankly, I laughed out loud when I read that ‘manopausal’ firemen should be allowed to swap shifts and even ‘work from home on an ad hoc basis if they’ve had a rough night’.
A rough night? Who knew that burly firemen could be such snowflakes?
It’s blindingly obvious to me that the ‘male menopause’ is simply a gift-wrapped excuse for shirker blokes of a certain age to get paid for doing nothing — aided and abetted, I might add, by HR departments that increasingly seem to spend their time dreaming up ways to ensure that staff can avoid doing the jobs they’re paid to do.
Frankly, it’s all of a piece with the modern world of work. I sometimes wonder, if I started my business today rather than in 1979, I’d have been able to build it into quite the same success, given how much the British work ethic has collapsed since then.
Just look at the schemes that some public-sector organisations have introduced. At least one local council has put its staff a on four-day week for the same money, even as customer satisfaction has plummeted. Other bodies have instituted ‘mental health days’, when employees can disappear from the workplace to ‘focus on their mental health’. What’s wrong with booking a holiday?
Some organisations even offer ‘duvet days’, in which mollycoddled staff can just stay in bed if they don’t fancy coming in. There’s another term for that: bunking off.
All this would be bad enough if the economy was thriving. But, as you know, it’s not. Britain is not quite the ‘sick man of Europe’ that it was in the 1970s, but we are not far off it, either.
Leicestershire County Council recommends that bosses allow for flexible working, suggesting alternative shift patterns, temporary adjustment to start times and working from home
Universities including Glasgow, Surrey and Kent each have men mentioned in their menopause policies. Pictured: Glasgow University
Inflation remains stubbornly high, bills are still hefty and the tax burden is at its highest since World War II.
The number of ‘economically inactive’ people — those not in paid work and not bothering to look for it, either — now stands at just under nine million, even though there are more than one million job vacancies.
Some two-and-a-half million are classed as longterm sick — too ill to work. No doubt many of them are genuinely under the weather, but this number has skyrocketed since Covid, and is up by half a million since 2019.
Drill down into the statistics and it all becomes even more striking. In 2019, according to official figures, 965,000 people were on longterm sick leave with ‘depression, bad nerves and anxiety’. That number has soared by a staggering 40 per cent, to 1.35 million, in just three short years.
Again, I’m sure many of these cases are genuine. But it’s also hard to avoid the conclusion that, after so many people got used to being paid to do nothing during the pandemic — thanks to the furlough scheme and other ruinously expensive initiatives — quite a few of them have got a taste for it, and don’t fancy doing any work again, thanks very much.
So, what can we do about this growing problem?
I’ve always said that if you look after your staff, you get the best out of them.
As Pimlico’s CEO, I prided myself on our modern, forward-looking workplace, with a 24-hour gym, a subsidised canteen and staff events, from summer barbecues to an epic Christmas party.
All this helped incentivise people to come to work, and fostered a sense of community and team spirit in the workplace.
In return, I asked for hard work and commitment from my staff, words that nowadays seem all but blasphemous.
Yet these are the words that build a strong economy. And these are the words that underpinned my transformation from a boy who left school at 15 with no qualifications to the owner of a £50 million-a-year empire.
I sold my business in 2021. But during the final five years in which I was in charge, I knew of staff demanding to work from home and even asking for a four-day week on the same money.
Some office employees floated the idea of permanent ‘remote working’, like those young ‘digital nomads’ you see on social media who claim they can do their jobs just as efficiently on their laptops on the beach as in the office.
Newsflash: they can’t.
My view is: if you want to work from a hammock, that’s fine — but you’re not doing it for my company. If you want to ‘work from home’, be my guest — but don’t expect to be paid.
If you’re off sick for more than two days, I want to see a doctor’s note — a genuine one, mind.
And, yes, we might well call you at home on your day off when the needs of the business demand it. No one is forcing you to pick up the phone, but bear in mind that we tend to reward and promote the people who are willing to go the extra mile.
Sadly, these days, too many people seem more focused on getting access to a sun lounger — or an electric fan to cool the imagined symptoms of their ‘male menopause’ — than in putting in an honest day’s work.
In the end, it spells disaster for Britain’s economic future — and as I’ve always said, if you go woke, you quickly go broke.
Charlie Mullins OBE is donating his fee for this article to Shooting Star Children’s Hospice.
Content source – www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com