If your alarm clock’s going off but you still want more sleep, your friend’s in town for the weekend, there’s a home project you’d like more time to work on or your DVR is about to reach its limit of saved shows, you’ve probably considered calling in sick from work.
On the flip side, there are days when your throat is scratchy, nose is runny and a killer headache is just around the corner, but you’ve still gone in to work. In fact, 30 percent of employees say they’ve gone to work despite actually being sick in order to save their sick days for when they’re feeling well, according to a national CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,400 workers and 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.
What’s going on with employees and their sick days? These cherished get-out-of-work-free days can cure all kinds of ailments, it seems. However, not all employers agree with the remedy. Before you call in sick, check out what the survey found about how employees are using their sick days, what employers aren’t okay with and the most outrageous excuses workers have tried.
Prescribing your own schedule
There are times when a sick day can make the difference in your workload or personal schedule. Twenty percent of workers say in the past year they called in sick but still ended up doing work from home throughout the day.
For the slightly less motivated, a sick day can be the perfect time for some R&R. In the past year, nearly one third (32 percent) of workers have called in sick when not actually ill, up slightly from last year (30 percent). What motivates these workers who may occasionally be allergic to the office? Apart from actual illness, the most common reason employees take sick days is because they just don’t feel like going to work (33 percent), or because they needed to relax (28 percent). Others spend their sick days going to the doctor (24 percent), catching up on sleep (19 percent), or running personal errands (14 percent).
There are more common times for workers to use sick days as well, whether due to the flu or personal commitments. Three-in-ten (30 percent) employers say they notice an increased number of sick days among their employees around the holidays. Nineteen percent of employers say that December is the time of year that employees call in sick the most, followed by January (16 percent) and February (15 percent).
Employers aren’t unaware of the fact that you’ll likely use sick days for reasons other than chicken noodle soup and bed rest. However, not all employers are okay with this: 30 percent say that they have checked in on employees who have called in sick to make sure the excuse was legitimate. Of those who verified employees’ excuses over the past year,
- 64 percent required a doctor’s note
- 48 percent called the employee
- 19 percent checked the employee’s social media posts
- 17 percent had another employee call the sick employee
- 15 percent drove past the employee’s house.
For those who have been caught lying, some may wish they really were sick: 16 percent of employers say they’ve fired employees for calling in sick with a fake excuse.
If all that sounds extreme to you, just know that employers may have some reason to be skeptical. When asked to share the most memorable excuses for workplace absences that they’ve heard, employers reported the following real-life examples:
- Employee’s false teeth flew out the window while driving down the highway
- Employee’s favorite football team lost on Sunday so needed Monday to recover
- Employee was quitting smoking and was grouchy
- Employee said that someone glued her doors and windows shut so she couldn’t leave the house to come to work
- Employee bit her tongue and couldn’t talk
- Employee claimed a swarm of bees surrounded his vehicle and he couldn’t make it in
- Employee said the chemical in turkey made him fall asleep and he missed his shift
- Employee felt like he was so angry he was going to hurt someone if he came in
- Employee received a threatening phone call from the electric company and needed to report it to the FBI
- Employee needed to finish Christmas shopping
- Employee’s fake eye was falling out of its socket
- Employee got lost and ended up in another state
- Employee couldn’t decide what to wear