U.S. workers call in sick most often January through March

Many starting to use email, text to notify employer: Survey
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 10/21/2011

One-third of employers say workers call in sick more often during the winter holidays, according to a CareerBuilder survey of 2,696 hiring managers and HR professionals and 4,384 workers in the United States.

While the cold and flu season is a heavy contributor to workplace absences, some workers may be using sick days to take care of some holiday shopping or visit with family. Twenty-nine per cent of workers admitted to already playing hooky from the office this year, citing errands and plans with family and friends among the top reasons for calling in sick when they were well.

The prime time of year when companies say employees call in sick is in the first quarter:
•January through March (34 per cent)
•April through June (13 per cent)
•July through September (30 per cent)
•October through December (23 per cent).

When it comes to notifying employers they are taking a sick day, some workers are relying on digital communications:
•phone call (84 per cent)
•email (24 per cent)
•text message (11 per cent).

Calling in sick without a legitimate excuse can have serious consequences. Fifteen per cent of employers said they have fired a worker for this reason. Twenty-eight per cent have checked up on an employee, citing the following examples:
•required a doctor’s note (69 per cent)
•called the employee (52 per cent)
•had another employee call the employee (19 per cent)
•drove by the employee’s home (16 per cent).

“While outrageous events are known to happen, frequent absences and over-the-top excuses can start to bring your credibility into question,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “Many employers are more flexible in their definition of a sick day and will allow employees to use them to recharge and take care of personal needs. This is especially evident post-recession when employees have taken on added responsibilities and are working longer days. Your best bet is to be upfront with your manager.”

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