8 stupid moves that get you fired

Major blunders can cost your job

Published On: Jul 01 2013 03:50:15 PM CDT   Updated On: Jul 01 2013 03:55:00 PM CDT
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Everyone makes mistakes. While most employers are willing to overlook minor slip-ups, major blunders can cost employees their jobs.

Some of the gaffes below might seem like no-brainers, but we bet you probably know someone who has been fired for the following.

1. Sorry I'm late: How many times in the last month have you shown up late for work? If you constantly arrive late to work, or return late from breaks or lunch, it displays an attitude of complacency and carelessness. Arriving late on a regular basis is disrespectful to your employer as well as your co-workers who do make an effort to arrive on time. Time is money and if you're not showing up on time, on a regular basis, you're essentially costing your employer money. Even minimal lateness costs businesses in the United States more than $3 billion dollars a year in lost productivity, and involves more than 20 percent of the population, according to HR Magazine. An employee who is late 10 minutes each day has, by the end of the year, taken the equivalent of a week's paid vacation. Adding to the total cost is the ripple effect of late-starting meetings as productivity is impacted throughout an entire organization.

2. Stealing from the company: Seventy-five percent of Americans admit to stealing on the job, according to self-report studies. Pens, highlighters, Post-it Notes and scissors are some of the most common items employees "take" from the office supply closet. However, employee "sticky fingers" may cost companies more than $50 billion per year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. And companies are cracking down, using private investigators, background checks and even hidden cameras to sniff out workplace thieves. Employee theft is defined as any stealing, use or misuse of an employer's assets without permission. Employee theft goes beyond office supplies and can include larceny/embezzlement, payroll schemes, expense reimbursement schemes, and stealing business opportunities. If an employer looks at pilfering as a serious ethical breach, it can end a person's employment.

3. Too many sick days: People get sick. Companies anticipate employee sickness and therefore offer sick leave. If they didn't, that would accelerate health problems and the spread of illness, thereby lowering productivity and morale. However, some organizations suffer from sick leave abuse, and sick leave abuse translates into lost dollars. Many organizations have traditionally limited sick leave to six days per year. Two-thirds of U.S. workers who call in sick at the last minute do so for reasons other than physical illness, according to the findings of the 17th annual CCH Unscheduled Absence Survey. Personal illness accounts for only 34 percent of unscheduled absences from work -- costing up to an average of $602 per employee, per year.

4. Falsifying time card: If you're showing up late for work, leaving early from work, but fail to indicate that on your time card, you are essentially stealing from your employer. Falsification of a time card happens when employees provide inaccurate data about their hours worked or cause others to supply misleading information. Under the FLSA or federal Fair Labor Standards Act, companies have a legal obligation to maintain accurate payroll records, including accurate records of time worked. Any action that falsified payroll documents could be considered time card fraud. It may also be a criminal offense in some jurisdictions. In Massachusetts, for example, receiving pay for hours not actually worked is a form of larceny. So, the next time you show up late, leave early or simply take a day off -- and fail to write it down -- be prepared to get the boot, or even worse, face criminal charges.

5. That's not part of my job description: If you use this excuse frequently to avoid work, you're sending a clear message to your boss and coworkers that you have no initiative. Supervisors, bosses, even co-workers appreciate team players. If you're not willing to take on work that you feel isn't your responsibility, remember someone else will, and you can be easily replaced. If you truly want to keep getting a paycheck, it's a good idea to make yourself available when additional work comes your way. Otherwise, you can kiss that job goodbye.

6. Drinking on the job: If too many episodes of "Mad Men" have you thinking that scotch on the rocks, on the job, is an acceptable practice, think again. An employee who drinks on the job is a huge liability for companies. Employees who drink while at work are likely to display diminished job performance, lowered productivity, absenteeism, tardiness, high turnover, and increased medical and workers' compensation bills. Employees who abuse drugs and alcohol can also make a workplace more volatile and more dangerous, and they can expose employers to legal liability. If your job has a no drinking on the job clause in their policy, then yes, you can be fired for it -- even at lunch!

7. Sexual misconduct: According to eHarmony, 37.8 percent of people met their spouse at work. The phrase "don't dip your pen in the company ink" is a well-worn cliché, and some companies are so concerned about the negative effects of office romances that they expressly prohibit workplace dating. Taking the proverbial "roll in the hay" might seem like the most obvious misbehavior to avoid in the work place. However, it happens, quite frequently. Many HR managers view sexual misconduct at work as "gross misconduct," and that gets you fired. Save the passion for another time and place.

8. Surfing porn: Again, another obvious NO-NO! However, it may surprise you how many people do it. In 2012, the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency warned its employees and contractors to stop using their government computers to surf the Internet for pornographic sites, according to the agency's executive director. Nielsen Online found that 25 percent of people are watching porn during business hours. Furthermore, according to Google the terms "sex" and "porn" receive 506 million and 618 million monthly searches respectively. Get caught surfing porn, and you'll be handed a pink slip. Try to explain that on your next job interview!