Among the many perks of being a grown up, getting to “stay home sick” without a note from your parents is right up there with getting to watch R-rated movies, staying up as late as you want and eating ice cream for breakfast. And according to a new national survey from CareerBuilder, nearly a third of adult workers are well aware of this perk – and taking advantage.
Of the 3,484 workers who participated in the survey, 32 percent say they’ve called in sick when they weren’t, and 30 percent admit they’ve gone into work despite being sick in order to “save” their sick days. Meanwhile, 20 percent of workers who call in sick end up working from home throughout the day.
Home for the Holidays
Perhaps not surprisingly, winter is the time when workplace absenteeism is most prevalent. Thirty percent of the 2,099 employers surveyed say they’ve notice an uptick in employees taking sick days around the holidays, with December as the most popular month for calling in sick, followed by January and then February.
Thirty percent of employers have actually checked in on employees to verify their excuses, 64 percent of whom required a doctor’s note. Another 48 percent called the employee, 19 percent checked the employee’s social media posts, 17 percent had another employee call the sick employee, and 15 percent – in a not at all creepy move – actually drove past the employee’s house.
Though some employers may be more like India or Trinidad with their relaxed approach to sick days, 16 percent have actually fired employees for calling in sick with a fake excuse.
Reasons for Playing Hooky
Aside from when they’re actually telling the truth about feeling ill, 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).
The Most Bizarre Excuses for Missing Work
When asked to share the most memorable excuses for workplace absences 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 he needed Monday to recover.
- Employee was quitting smoking and was grouchy.
- Someone glued an employee’s doors and windows shut so she couldn’t leave the house to come to work.
- Employee bit her tongue and couldn’t talk.
- Employee couldn’t make it in because a swarm of bees surrounded his vehicle.
- Employee missed his shift because the chemical in his turkey made him fall asleep.
- 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.
Increased Absenteeism: When to Worry
While most employers agree that faking the flu for a day or two off is a relatively forgivable excuse – and may even give them a much needed recharge – an increase in absences could also be a sign of disengagement, burnout or a more serious personal issue. In that case, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs: Are they also showing up later and leaving earlier? Is the quality of their work suffering? Are they missing deadlines? Make sure you’re checking in with your employees on a regular basis and let them know they can come to you with any problems or challenges they are having that could be affecting their work.
Tell us: What are the most bizarre sick day excuses you’ve ever heard?
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