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

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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!

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