Most unusual excuses for employees calling in sick

HRM 02 Nov 2012

It’s not just students who play truant anymore. In the past year, a survey found that 30% of workers who have called in sick were not actually ill.

In a study by CareerBuilder, almost one-third of employers (29%) have checked up on an employee to verify that the illness is legitimate. Some employers have had employees call a suspected faker (18%) or even gone so far as to drive by the employee’s home (14%).

Seventeen per cent of employers have fired employees for giving a fake excuse.

The study also found that December is the most popular month to call in sick, with 20% saying their employees call in the most during that month.

Next to actually being sick, the most common reasons employees call in sick are because they just don’t 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 some errands (15%).

Excuses, Excuses

Some workers come up with slightly more colourful explanations for their absences. When asked to share the most memorable excuses, employers reported the following real-life examples:

  • Employee’s sobriety tool wouldn't allow the car to start
  • Employee forgot he had been hired for the job
  • Employee said her dog was having a nervous breakdown
  • Employee’s dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation
  • Employee’s toe was stuck in a faucet
  • Employee said a bird bit her
  • Employee was upset after watching “The Hunger Games”
  • Employee got sick from reading too much
  • Employee was suffering from a broken heart
  • Employee’s hair turned orange from dying her hair at home

Latest comments
Start a new discussion


Commented by: Lawrence Wong at 02 Nov 2012 04:13 PM Report this comment
I heard this excuse personally, "I can't leave the house because my boyfriend has taken my house keys and left for work."
Commented by: Mike Rawbone at 02 Nov 2012 05:00 PM Report this comment
My secretary's mother had suffered a long illness and frankly, it was just a matter of time.......

One day my Secretary phoned to say she could not come to work due a bereavement.Having expected this call for a while, I gave my condolences and commented that it was perhaps best (as her mother was not suffring anymore) and said she should take what time was necessary to make the apropriate arrangements etc.

My rather indignant secretart replied....No, you don't understand - I came down this morning to find my parrot had died overnight!
Commented by: Mike Rawbone at 02 Nov 2012 05:05 PM Report this comment
My secretary's mother had suffered a long illness at home and frankly, it was tragically just a matter of time.......

One day my Secretary phoned to say she could not come to work due a bereavement.Having been expecting this call for a while, I gave my condolences and commented that it was perhaps best (as her mother was not suffring anymore) and said she should take what time was necessary to make the apropriate arrangements etc.

My rather indignant secretary replied....No, you don't understand. My mother is still OK but I came down this morning to find my parrot had died overnight!

Leave your comment
Start a new discussion

HRM Asia forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Post a Comment
HRM Asia welcomes your contribution. Your IP address is recorded in the event of a complaint.
Name *
Email *
(required, but will not display)
Comment *
Please enter in the numbers in the box left.
You are about to submit your comment. Is it:
  • Professional
  • In your own name or pseudonym, not impersonating someone else
  • Free from rude language
  • Free from advertising
  • If you prefer not to post but are still keen to get your viewpoint across, you can always e-mail the editor.
  • 20 Aug | Frazer Jones Global HR Search and Recruitment | Singapore
    Partner with the business to advise and strategies on HR policies, coach the senior leadership team and deliver best practice across the region.
    19 Aug | Frazer Jones Global HR Search & Recruitment | Singapore
    The HR Associate will be required to support the HR Manager to ensure the smooth running of HR Operations in the office.
    15 Aug | Frazer Jones - Global HR Search and Recruitment | Singapore
    Resourcing Consultant role that will execute the end to end recrutiment process within a Financial Institution across the region.
    Innovation in engagement, motivation and retention of talent
    Prof Veena Jadav and Carolyn Seah of S.P. Jain School of Business Management share the findings of the school's annual HR Conclave survey about talent management practices companies are adopting in different geographies
    GSK: Talent management – a serious business imperative
    Talent Management for Sustainability: Default or Design?
    Scouting for High Potentials
    Performance Leadership Pte Ltd | info@performance.sg
    Lunch, Learn and Bond with your teams, all within 1 hour! Choose from a variety of light-hearted, interesting or thought-provoking topics that appeal ...
    Performance Recognition Pte Ltd | info@performance.sg
    A monthly business incubator where leaders grow their skills, exchange ideas and share best practices.
    Organisational Development Concepts | enquiries@odctraining.com.sg
    Quality workshops packaged for learning effectiveness and cost efficiency