Employees can come up with some very interesting excuses for taking a “sick day” despite being healthy, but some explanations are much more creative — and amusing — than others. Asked by CareerBuilder to share the most memorable excuses for workplace absences they’ve heard, employers said an employee:
- Claimed his grandmother poisoned him with ham.
- Was stuck under the bed.
- Broke his arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich.
- Said the universe was telling him to take a day off.
- Had to spend the day retrieving his belongings from the dumpster because his wife found out he was cheating.
- Poked herself in the eye while combing her hair.
- Said his wife put all his underwear in the washer.
- Said the meal he cooked for a department potluck didn’t turn out well.
- Was going to the beach because the doctor said she needed more vitamin D.
- Said her cat was stuck inside the dashboard of her car.
Turns out calling in sick when you’re perfectly healthy is not unusual: 38 percent of employees have called in to work sick when they’re feeling well in the past year, up from 28 percent last year, according to a new CareerBuilder survey. However, not all employees who’ve called in sick when feeling well are as creative as those mentioned above: 27 percent said they had a doctor’s appointment, 27 percent said they just didn’t feel like going, 26 percent said they needed to relax, 21 percent said they needed to catch up on sleep, and 12 percent blamed bad weather.
Faking? Stay Off Facebook.
While most employers claim to trust their employees, one in three employers (33 percent) have checked to see if an employee was telling the truth after calling in sick this year, compared to 31 percent last year. Asking to see a doctor’s note was the most popular way to find out of the employee was telling the truth (67 percent), followed by calling the employee (49 percent), and checking the employee’s social media posts (32 percent).
More than 1 in 5 employers (22 percent) has fired an employee for calling in sick with a fake excuse, an increase from last year (18 percent).
To keep an eye on questionable behavior, employers are going online. Thirty-three percent of all employers have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking their social media accounts, and of those, 26 percent have fired the employee.
Of the 52 percent of employees who have a Paid Time Off (PTO) program that allows them to use their time off however they choose, 27 percent still feel obligated to make up an excuse for taking a day off (compared to 23 percent last year), and many of them are relatively new to the workforce. Of these employees who have a PTO program, 32 percent of those ages 18-34 still feel obligated to make up an excuse, compared to 20 percent of those 55 and older.
The most popular months for employees to call in sick continue to be December (20 percent), January (15 percent), and February (14 percent), on par with last year’s survey results. And while less than 1 in 10 employees (9 percent) say they have ever faked being sick during the holidays, those that do most often say it’s to spend time with family and friends (68 percent), while others wanted to holiday shop (21 percent), or decorate for the season (9 percent).