This week’s guru

Absence makes art glow stronger

Guru has been following the debate in Personnel Today’s letters page on
whether GPs are contributing to sickness absence rates by their willingness to
issue sicknotes.

There is no doubt that managing absence is one of the biggest challenges
facing HR as organisations, reluctant to recruit in the face of the ongoing
economic downturn, are under even more pressure to make the most of their
existing workforce.

Guru has always explained to his line manager that the reason for his
occasional absences is that he is like a finely-tuned racehorse – prone to
injury, but worth persevering with because he is capable of first-class

But the subject presents a tricky challenge for HR in striking a balance
between providing support, advice and understanding to genuinely ill staff
while cracking down on those who try and take advantage of employers.

Guru invites readers to contribute to the debate – but there is one catch –
comments must be made in limerick form. To get you started, Guru has outlined
his no-nonsense approach:

If your workers are taking the mick
And signing them selves off sick
A Victorian state
You should quickly create
And beat them about with a stick

Published efforts will receive a beautifully handcrafted Guru mouse mat.

Guru brews some prize penicillium

Guru is not usually competitive but he has at last found a challenge he has
a genuine chance of winning.

Scientists have launched a search for Britain’s most stomach-churning
unwashed coffee mug.

The Royal Society of Chemistry wants to inspect the most spectacular growth
of green gunge to be found in a forgotten mug at work. To qualify, the mould
floating on the top of the left-over coffee must be clearly discernible.

It organised the contest to mark the discovery of penicillin 75 years ago.
And although coffee cup cultures are often green, any disgusting range of
colour is acceptable.

Staff in offices, factories and other workplaces are being asked to submit
photos – but not to have the rank mugs delivered.

Guru is confident his coffee mug will win – rotting globules of coffee, milk
and tea have been carefully nurtured over three years to form a germ culture so
virulent it has mutated into a life form, which he affectionately calls

Photographs should be e-mailed to [email protected]

Putting the wind up Swedish tribunals

A lot of employment disputes end up at tribunal because one side or the
other ends up talking hot air.

However, in a recent Swedish employment tribunal case hot air proved to be
the pivotal issue the whole workplace disagreement centred on.

Computer technician Goran Andervass was awarded nearly £60,000 compensation
after being sacked for telling off a colleague for breaking wind. He took the
Swedish Bank at Riksbanken to an industrial tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Andervass said he rebuked his un-named co-worker as he believed he had
deliberately broken wind in his office.

The colleague complained to management who suspended Andervass and later
made him redundant.

Guru’s colleagues agree with Krister Skoglund of the Swedish Work
Environment Authority, who commented: "If a fart is done on purpose when
going into somebody’s office it is important that management takes the matter

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