We are only a month in, but 2010 has already been labelled "the year of the skiver" by one publicity-hungry employment lawyer.
Jonathan Whittaker, an employment partner at SAS Daniels
(Cheshire's biggest law firm in case you were wondering), says that employment dispute enquiries to his team are already running higher than normal.
"We're two weeks into the working year, yet some businesses for whom we
work are coming to us for advice about how to deal with staff who, in
some instances, have not been seen since lunchtime on Friday, December
18, 2009, citing impassable roads, cancelled buses and trains, flat
batteries, kids off school, injuries from falls, failed central
heating, burst pipes, running errands for elderly or infirm relatives
and any manner of wider challenges."
Calm down, Jonathan. Deep breathes and don't forget to use full stops in future. He then - for some inexplicable reason - decides to talk like a high society toff from circa 1928: "We're up around 40% on disputes involving pickled-brain skiving scams in which some utter clots have been caught bang to rights whooping it up down the local social club."
Jonathan reckons skiving will be the big problem for employers to tackle in 2010; as a result of workers depressed by pay freezes, redundancies and greater workloads. He then goes off on a bizarre stream of consciousness:
"The questionably-afflicted are sounding more and more like central characters in an episode of EastEnders, with, seemingly, a small minority of the population suffering unusually and curiously high concentrations of back-to-back disasters.
"If I were a friend or neighbour, then I'd go and stand near them - because if a rogue satellite happens to drop out of the sky, then with that minority's luck it's sure as heck going to land on them, not you."
Err... thanks for that Jonathan. Keep taking the pills.