Holiday Season Causes Spike in Absenteeism

October 20, 2011 ( – One third (33%) of employers report that workers call in sick more often during the winter holidays, a recent CareerBuilder survey finds. 
While the cold and flu season is a heavy contributor to workplace absences during the winter season, some workers may be using sick days to take care of holiday shopping or visit with family, according to CareerBuilder. Twenty-nine percent of workers have admitted to already playing hooky from the office this year, citing errands and plans with family and friends among the top reasons for calling in sick when they were well.

When it comes to notifying employers that they are taking a sick day, some workers reported they are bypassing a phone call to the boss and relying on digital communications.

•  Phone call – 84%

•  E-mail – 24%

•  Text message – 11%

When asked to share the most unusual excuses employees gave for missing work, employers offered the following examples:

•  Employee’s 12-year-old daughter stole his car and he had no other way to work. Employee didn’t want to report it to the police.

•  Employee said bats got in her hair.

•  Employee said a refrigerator fell on him.

•  Employee was in line at a coffee shop when a truck carrying flour backed up and dumped the flour into her convertible.

•  Employee said a deer bit him during hunting season.

•  Employee ate too much at a party.

•  Employee fell out of bed and broke his nose.

•  Employee got a cold from a puppy.

•  Employee’s child stuck a mint up his nose and had to go to the ER to remove it.

•  Employee hurt his back chasing a beaver.

•  Employee got his toe caught in a vent cover.

•  Employee had a headache after going to too many garage sales.

•  Employee’s brother-in-law was kidnapped by a drug cartel while in Mexico.

•  Employee drank anti-freeze by mistake and had to go to the hospital.

•  Employee was at a bowling alley and a bucket filled with water crashed through the ceiling and hit her on the head.

Checking up on Employees 

Fifteen percent of employers said they have fired a worker for calling in sick to work without a legitimate excuse. Twenty-eight percent have checked up on an employee, citing the following examples:

•  69% required a doctor’s note;

•  52% called the employee;

•  19% had another employee call the employee; and

•  16% drove by the employee’s home.

CareerBuilder surveyed 2,696 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals and 4,384 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) ages 18 and over between August 16 and September 8, 2011.