The most unusual excuses for calling in sick

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Have you ever called in sick because you woke up having an allergy attack? However, you neglected to mention that it’s the huge stack of paperwork on your desk you were allergic to. Or maybe you’ve had a migraine, but failed to explain it’s from your annoying co-workers. The list of personal “ailments” used to get a day off from work could go on and on, but the bottom line is that everybody plays hooky from the office every now and then. In the past year alone, 30 percent of workers have called in sick when not actually ill.

However, some employees could use a little more finesse in crafting an excuse for calling in sick. In a new CareerBuilder survey, hiring managers and human resource professionals shared the most unusual excuses employees gave for calling in sick, as well as trends noticed in taking sick days.

Believe it or not
In an early episode of “The Office,” company manager Michael Scott sends his employee/lackey to check on a co-worker who called in sick, suspecting him of faking it to get a day off from work. Although the episode makes this seem ridiculous, some employers may not see the problem: 18 percent of employers have had other employees call a suspected faker, and 14 percent have gone so far as to drive by the employee’s home.

Sounds extreme? Maybe these employers think of themselves as more generous: 29 percent of employers have checked up on an employee to verify that the illness is legitimate, usually by requiring a doctor’s note or calling the employee later in the day.

Is your boss horrible enough that you may feel legitimately sick if you’re caught faking it? 17 percent of employers have fired employees for giving a fake excuse.

Have yourself a merry little sick day
Flu and cold season is in full swing by Thanksgiving, and employees are staying at home during the colder months to get through it. 31 percent of employers notice an uptick in sick days around the winter holidays. Maybe it’s to enjoy all the holiday movies on TV or maybe it’s to stay in bed with the sniffles, but December is the most popular month to call in sick, with employers saying 20 percent of employees call in the most during that month. July is the next most popular month to skip out on work, followed by January and February.

Taking a personal day
Not all reasons to skip work fall neatly under “vacation” or “sick” days. 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 percent), or because they felt like they needed to relax (29 percent). Others take the sick day off so they can make it to a doctor’s appointment (22 percent), catch up on sleep (16 percent), or run some errands (15 percent).

careerbuilder skipping work excuses hunger games

Honesty may not always be the best policy
As far as excuses go, nothing will ever seem as unbelievable or induce quite as many eye rolls as “The dog ate my homework.” However, these real-life examples employers shared as some of the most memorable excuses for not being able to come in may be close seconds:

  • 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
  1. Hey, this is totally a valid excuse! RT @CareerBuilder “I can’t come in today because my dog had a nervous breakdown” & other excuses.

  2. Rank and file employees can usually do that or make excuses for not going to work because they just don’t feel like it but managers and people in the management side could not easily do that because big things are at stake when they can’t go to work even for just a day.
    This is a great article. Thanks!

  3. Here are two of the best ones I heard as a supervisor.
    1) “just as I was leaving the house, I discovered my dog had drank the entire contents of the deep fryer, have to take him to vet.
    2) “my son left a Samari sword lay on the ottoman and I cut my leg.”
    Worst part is #2 next day he had a couple dozen stitches in his leg…

  4. The simplest thing is to only call in sick when you’re actually sick.  Then you can easily tell the truth.  If you have to take the dog to the vet you can just say, “I need to take a vacation day [or "personal time off" ] if that’s what your employer calls it).”  If you need a day to unwind you can just say, “I’d like to take a vacation day.  Will that be a problem?”

  5. @CareerBuilder 14% of employers have gone so far as to drive by the employee’s home – that’s a startling statistic!

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