Most unusual sick day excuses from employees

October 11, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Sick days, legitimate or otherwise, also become more frequent around the winter holidays, with nearly one-third of employers reporting more employees call in sick during the holiday season.

The study was conducted online by Harris Interactive from August 13 to September 6 and included 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,976 workers across industries and company sizes.

Twenty-nine percent 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. Eighteen percent of employers have had other employees call a suspected faker, and 14 percent have even gone so far as to drive by the employee's home.

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

Thirty-one percent 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 percent 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.

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 percent), or because they felt like they needed to relax (29 percent). Others take the day off so they can make it to a doctor's appointment (22 percent), catch up on sleep (16 percent), or run some errands (15 percent).

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 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

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