My Cat Had the Hiccups, and Other Odd Employee Excuses

January 12, 2012 ( - Cat hiccups, a vengeful roommate and a governor’s phone call are among this year’s most unusual excuses employees gave for being tardy, according to CareerBuilder’s annual survey.

Sixteen percent of workers reported they arrive late to work once a week or more, up from 15% last year. Twenty-seven percent of workers arrive late to work at least once a month, up from 26% last year. Over one-third (34%) of employers said they have terminated an employee for being late.  

Traffic, sleep schedules and weather conditions are the top three causes for late arrivals to the office, according to workers: 

  • Traffic – 31%, 
  • Lack of sleep – 18%, 
  • Bad weather – 11%, and 
  • Getting kids to school or daycare – 8%. 

Other common reasons for tardiness included public transportation delays, pets, spouses, watching TV and Internet usage.   

When asked for examples of the most outrageous excuses employees provided for being late, hiring managers shared the following: 

1. Employee’s cat had the hiccups. 

2. Employee thought she had won the lottery (she didn’t). 

3. Employee got distracted watching the TODAY Show. 

4. Employee’s angry roommate cut the cord to his phone charger, so it didn’t charge and his alarm didn’t go off. 

5. Employee believed his commute time should count toward his work hours. 

6. Employee claimed a fox stole her car keys. 

7. Employee’s leg was trapped between the subway car and the platform (turned out to be true). 

8. Employee said he wasn’t late because he had no intention of getting to work before 9:00 a.m. (his start time was 8:00 a.m.) 

9. Employee was late because of a job interview with another firm. 

10. Employee had to take a personal call from the state governor (turned out to be true). 

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder among 3,023 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 7,780 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between November 9 and December 5, 2011.