One-third of workers have called in sick when not actually ill: Survey

Not feeling like going to work, needing to relax most common reasons for playing hooky
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 10/11/2012

Playing hooky isn't just for Ferris Bueller. In the past year, 30 per cent of workers have called in sick when not actually ill, keeping on par with previous years, according to a survey by Career Builder.

Twenty-nine per cent 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, found the survey of 2,494 human resource professionals and 3,976 workers across the United States.

Some employers have had other employees call a suspected faker (18 per cent) or even gone so far as to drive by the employee's home (14 per cent).

Seventeen per cent of employers have fired employees for giving a fake excuse.

Thirty-one per cent of employers notice an uptick in sick days around the winter holidays. This helps make December the most popular month to call in sick, with 20 per cent saying their 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, found the survey.

Not all sick days are spent under piles of blankets with a thermometer and maximum-strength medicine. 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 per cent), or because they felt like they needed to relax (29 per cent). Others take the day off so they can make it to a doctor's appointment (22 per cent), catch up on sleep (16 per cent), or run some errands (15 per cent).

Some workers come up with slightly more colorful explanations for their absences. When asked to share the most memorable excuses, employers reported the following real-life examples:

•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 got sick from reading too much.

•Employee's hair turned orange from dying her hair at home.

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