Needing a New Manicure No Excuse for Unscheduled Day Off

Employers report the most dubious excuses workers have given for taking an unscheduled day off.

Forty percent of workers have called in sick in the last 12 months when they weren’t, compared to 35% in 2016 and 38% in 2015, according to new CareerBuilder data.


While they may not necessarily be sick, 30% of workers who have called in sick cite having a doctor’s appointment as the top reason to take a sick day, followed by just not feeling like going to work (23%), needing to relax (20%), and needing to catch up on sleep (15%). Running errands (14%), catching up on housework (8%), and plans with family and friends (8%) also appeared on the list.


Nearly three in five workers (28%) say they feel obligated to make up an excuse for taking a day off, even though the majority of employees (54%) work for companies with a paid time off (PTO) program which rolls sick, vacation and personal days together. But, they need to be careful with their excuses since more than one-third of employers (38%) have checked up on a worker who called in sick to make sure he or she was actually sick, and 26% have fired a worker for calling in sick with a fake excuse (up from 22% last year).


Forty-three percent of employers have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking out their social media posts, up from 34% last year. Sixty-four percent of employers required a doctor’s note, 46% called the employee, 25% had another worker call the employee, and 22% drove by the employee’s house or apartment.


The most dubious excuses workers have given for taking an unscheduled day off reported by employers include:

  • A bear was in employee’s yard and they were afraid to come out;
  • Employee’s phone exploded and it hurt their hand;
  • Employee ate a toothpick in his food at restaurant;
  • Employee broke his arm wrestling a female bodybuilder;
  • Employee called in “fat” because uniform didn’t fit;
  • Dog swallowed employee’s car key so she was waiting until it came out;
  • Employee left his clothes at the laundry mat;
  • Employee did not have enough gas to get to work;
  • Employee had to re-schedule a new manicure because some of their artificial nails fell off; and
  • Employees were not sure how the solar eclipse would affect them, so it would be safer to stay at home.


On the other hand, more than one-third of workers (37%) come into the office when they are under the weather so they can save their sick days for when they are feeling well, the survey found. Fifty-eight percent say they come into work when they’re sick because otherwise the work won’t get done, and 48% come into work because they can’t afford to miss a day of pay.


The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,257 hiring and human resource managers ages 18 and older (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) and 3,697 employees ages 18 and older (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between August 16 and September 15, 2017.