Admit it: You’ve called in sick to work when you really wanted to just spend the day on the couch, binge-watching Stranger Things. Well, you’re not alone in stretching the truth about your health. Thirty-five percent of employees CareerBuilder surveyed said they had called in sick to work in the last year even though they weren’t really under the weather.
Having a doctor’s appointment was the reason 27% of people called in sick when they weren’t feeling well, the survey of 3,100 full-time workers found. But roughly the same number – 28% — said they just didn’t feel like showing up. Twenty-four percent felt they needed to relax, 18% were behind on sleep and wanted to catch some Z’s, and 11% needed to run personal errands.
Some people do more than just faking a cough when taking an unexpected day off. The survey also asked more than 2,500 employers about some of the weirdest excuses employees had given for not showing up to work. One respondent said an employee called in to say a duck bit him. One brutally honest worker said he couldn’t come in that day because he had better things to do.
Your boss may not be sympathetic to your assertion that you have more important things to do than your job, but a goofy excuse may not be nearly as harmful to your career as outright lying about being sick. Thirty-three percent of employers have checked to see if an absent employee is really sick, CareerBuilder found, and 22% have fired someone who called in sick with a fake excuse.
Asking to see a doctor’s note was the most common way that bosses verified that a case of the sniffles was genuine, but some checked up on an employee’s social media to see what he really got up to on his day off. Careless Facebooking was the undoing of many slacker employees. More than one-third of employers had caught an employee who was lying about being sick by checking their social media, and 27% then fired the employee.
Despite the creative reasons that some people come up with for missing work, not taking time off when genuinely sick is likely a bigger problem than people who ditch work to go to the beach. Eighty-five percent of workers said they’d gone to work even though they were sick, a separate OfficeTeam survey found.
Roughly a third of those sniffling and wheezing workers said they’d gone to work when sick because they didn’t want to fall behind on their assignments, and 12% were working through illness because their company didn’t offer sick days. Even doctors, who should know better, go to work while ill, a survey found.
While people who don’t get paid sick days are understandably hesitant to call in when they’re under the weather, “presenteesism” is a problem even among people who do get PTO. Showing up to work while sick costs the U.S. economy $160 billion every year, by some estimates. Employers surveyed by OfficeTeam overwhelmingly said they preferred it when sick employees stayed home.
So go ahead and call in sick if you really don’t feel well, and don’t hesitate to use your earned PTO when you need it to handle life’s normal emergencies. Just remember that the weirder your excuse for not showing up, the more likely it is to raise eyebrows at the office, as these 10 real-life reasons for calling in sick did with respondents to the CareerBuilder survey.
10. Employee ate too much birthday cake
Telling the boss you have a stomachache would probably suffice.
9. Employee said the ozone in the air flattened his tires
This excuse sounds wacky, but the employee isn’t totally off-base in drawing a connection between ozone and his flat tires. Ozone in the atmosphere can damage rubber, Gizmodo explained.
8. Employee said she wasn’t sick but her llama was
Taking time off to care for a pet might seem odd to some, but not to devoted pet parents. More companies are catching on and offering “paw-ternity” leave to employees who need to take care of a pet cat, dog, or even a llama, according to Public Radio International.
7. Employee was experiencing traumatic stress from a large spider
The employee found a spider in her house and apparently had to stay home to deal with it. Between 3.5% and 6% of the population suffers from arachnophobia, according to the Huffington Post, and women are more likely to have the fear than men.
6. Employee was bowling the game of his life and couldn’t make it to work
The odds of a pro bowler bowling a perfect game are 460 to 1; for amateurs, the odds of bowling 300 are 1 in 11,500.
5. Employee said her roots were showing
The employee said she had to keep her hair appointment because she looked like a mess.
4. Employee’s pressure cooker had exploded
The kitchen disaster scared the employee’s sister, so she had to stay home.
3. Employee had to testify against a drug dealer and the dealer’s friend mugged him
Being the victim of a violent crime sounds like a pretty good reason for missing work, actually.
2. Employee had used a hair remover under her arms and had chemical burns as a result
Apparently, the burns were so severe she couldn’t put her arms down by her sides.