You Gotta Be Kidding! Crazy Excuses to Miss Work

Tempted to call in sick to work when you are actually not sick? You are certainly not alone.

Image representing CareerBuilder as depicted i...

In the past year, 30 percent of workers called in sick when not genuinely ill, according to a survey by CareerBuilder  and Harris Interactive. That is the same level compared to the past few years.

The career site recently released their annual survey of hiring managers and HR professionals, listing the most outrageous excuses employers hear when employees call in sick.

Cover of "The Hunger Games"
One employee called in “sick” from work because they were upset after watching “The Hunger Games”

The online survey was conducted from August to September; they sampled 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals, as well as 3,976 workers in companies of all sizes and across a broad range of industries.

  • Catching The Phonies

Twenty-nine percent of employers follow-up on the call to confirm legitimate illness; the most common methods are requiring a doctor’s note or calling the employee during the day.

Eighteen percent (18%) of bosses had someone else call the suspected faker; 14 percent had another employee drive by the sick employee’s home.  Workers with false excuses were fired by 17 percent of employers.

  • ‘Tis The Season

The holiday season is the time of year employers see the highest number sick days, legitimate or otherwise.  Nearly one-third (31 percent) of companies reported more call-ins during the holidays.

This trend makes December the most popular month to call in sick; 20 percent of companies say it is when employees call in the most. July is the next most popular month to miss work, followed by January and February.

  • I said I was sick…

Other than actually being sick, the biggest reason for employees to call in sick is that they do not feel like going to work (34 percent), or feel the need to relax (29 percent).

Doctor’s appointments were the pretext of choice for 22 percent, followed by catching up on sleep (16 percent), and running errands (15 percent).

  • You got to be kidding!

Some excuses can be either pretty creative, or downright ridiculous. The most outrageous excuses heard by employers—ones actually used:

  • Employee’s sobriety tool would not allow the car to start
  • Employee forgot they were hired for the job
  • Employee said her dog was having a nervous breakdown
  • Employee’s dead grandmother was exhumed for a police investigation
  • Employee’s toe 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


Published by @philammann

Put. That coffee. Down. Writer/editor/whatever it takes. @margaretj13 is my (much) better half. Website: Email: Twitter: @PhilAmmann

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