Herman Larson (name changed) was taken aback. He’d never even heard of fake medical excuses before, but he was in enough trouble to listen to anyone, even his neighbor who was a perpetual screw-up.
Herman’s company had a very explicit policy on bereavement leave: a week for immediate family members, one day for any other relatives. No changes, no exceptions.
The problem was that Herman hadn’t been raised by his parents, he’d been raised by his aunt, who lived 1000 miles away. He explained that to his human resources department when his aunt passed away, but they just took out the written policy and showed him: “one day for any other relatives.”
There was no way that Herman was going to miss his aunt’s funeral. She was really his mother. Policy or not, he was going to the funeral and spending time with his family.
So by making the right decision in his personal life, Herman was now in big trouble in his professional life. He’d already used up all of his sick leave and personal time for the year, and now he’d missed another four days of work without a “valid” excuse. He didn’t know if the company would just dock his pay, suspend him or fire him, but he had just spent most of his money on the plane ticket back home. He couldn’t afford to lose any pay; he barely had enough money for his rent.
The neighbor’s suggestion was better than anything else Herman had thought of; in fact, he had no other alternative. Herman got online, did a Google search, and found a bunch of sites offering free doctors note templates. “Just download one of these templates,” the sites said, “fill it in, and you’ll have a realistic excuse that will work anywhere!”
That’s what Herman did, particularly because it was “free.” He was smart enough to realize that he couldn’t claim he was sick at home, since he’d already asked for the time off to attend a funeral. So he wrote in fake details of a doctor in his family’s hometown, saying that he’d collapsed from exhaustion and fatigue after flying all night to get to the funeral.
The idea wasn’t a bad one. What was bad was Herman’s execution. That free doctors excuse template didn’t come with any instructions, explanations or suggested language to use. So Herman just printed out the note on his regular printer, wrote what he thought would be believable language, and turned it in.
And the human resources coordinator just laughed. She saw Herman’s expression, and decided to explain. “I’ve seen this template a dozen times before. You didn’t change a thing on it, you printed it on crappy, cheap paper, and you didn’t even spell the word ‘exhaustion’ properly. I get some good tries here, and some probably even get by me. This one is just pathetic.”
What came next was even worse. “Normally for your first offense, we would just have docked your pay and given you a warning. But this is an attempt to defraud the company. You’re now officially on two weeks’ suspension, without pay. The next time, you’re fired.”
Herman’s “free” doctors note template ended up costing him more than a thousand dollars, because he chose a site that didn’t even warn him to use premium paper for printing, and suggesting ways to word his excuse. He probably won’t dare to try a fake note again, but if he does, chances are he’ll at least have learned that “free” isn’t always free.