Employees Get Creative with “Sick Day” Excuses

October 16, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – In the past year, 30% of workers have called in sick when not actually ill, and many have given employers creative excuses, a CareerBuilder study discovered.

Next to actually being sick, the most common reasons employees call in sick are because they just do not feel like going to work (34%) or because they felt like they needed to relax (29%). Others take the day off so they can make it to a doctor’s appointment (22%), catch up on sleep (16%) or run errands (15%).

Some of the more creative explanations for employee absences reported by employers are:

  • Sobriety tool wouldn’t allow the car to start;
  • Forgot he had been hired for the job;
  • Dog was having a nervous breakdown;
  • Dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation;
  • Toe was stuck in a faucet;
  • Bitten by a bird;
  • Upset after watching “The Hunger Games”;
  • Got sick from reading too much;
  • Suffering from a broken heart; and
  • Hair turned orange from dying it at home.

The survey also found sick days also become more frequent around the winter holidays, with nearly one-third (31%) of employers reporting more employees call in sick more often during this time. December is the most popular month to call in sick; 20% of employers said their employees call in the most during this month. July is the next most popular month to skip work, followed by January and February.

Twenty-nine percent of employers have checked up on an employee to verify that the illness is legitimate, usually by requiring a doctor’s note or calling the employee later in the day. Some employers have had other employees call a suspected faker (18%) or have driven by the employee’s home (14%). Seventeen percent have fired employees for giving a fake excuse.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,494 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,976 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) ages 18 and older between August 13 and September 6, 2012.