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CareerBuilder’s Annual Study Reveals Most Outrageous Excuses Workers Have Given When Calling in Sick

Three in ten workers go to work sick to save sick days for when they’re feeling well

CHICAGO, October 24, 2013 - Have you ever had one of those days where your false teeth fly out the window on the highway, your doors and windows are all glued shut, or a swarm of bees keeps you from getting in your car? While most employees use sick days to recover from an illness, some employers have heard much more memorable excuses.

In the past year, nearly one third (32 percent) of workers have called in sick when not actually ill, up slightly from last year (30 percent). On the flip side, 30 percent of employees say they’ve gone to work despite actually being sick in order to save their sick days for when they’re feeling well.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from August 13 to September 6, 2013, and included a representative sample of 3,484 workers and 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

The Show Must Go On

Thanks to technological advances, taking a sick day no longer always means taking a day off. Twenty percent of workers say in the past year they called in sick but still ended up doing work from home throughout the day.

Season’s Ailings

Cold weather and holiday stress can take a toll on absentee rates. Three-in-ten (30 percent) employers say they notice an increased number of sick days among their employees around the holidays. Nineteen percent of employers say that December is the time of year that employees call in sick the most, followed by January (16 percent) and February (15 percent).

Catching Fakers

Thirty percent of employers say that they have checked in on employees who have called in sick to make sure the excuse was legitimate. Of those who verified employees’ excuses over the past year, 64 percent required a doctor’s note, 48 percent called the employee, 19 percent checked the employee’s social media posts, 17 percent had another employee call the sick employee, and 15 percent drove past the employee’s house.

While some employers may be flexible with how employees use their sick days, 16 percent say they’ve fired employees for calling in sick with a fake excuse.

Bueller? Bueller?

Apart from actual illness, the most common reason employees take sick days is because they just don’t feel like going to work (33 percent), or because they needed to relax (28 percent). Others spend their sick days going to the doctor (24 percent), catching up on sleep (19 percent), or running personal errands (14 percent).

What’s Your Excuse?

When asked to share the most memorable excuses for workplace absences that they’ve heard, employers reported the following real-life examples:

· Employee’s false teeth flew out the window while driving down the highway

· Employee’s favorite football team lost on Sunday so needed Monday to recover

· Employee was quitting smoking and was grouchy

· Employee said that someone glued her doors and windows shut so she couldn’t leave the house to come to work

· Employee bit her tongue and couldn’t talk

· Employee claimed a swarm of bees surrounded his vehicle and he couldn’t make it in

· Employee said the chemical in turkey made him fall asleep and he missed his shift

· Employee felt like he was so angry he was going to hurt someone if he came in

· Employee received a threatening phone call from the electric company and needed to report it to the FBI

· Employee needed to finish Christmas shopping

· Employee’s fake eye was falling out of its socket

· Employee got lost and ended up in another state

· Employee couldn’t decide what to wear

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals, and 3,484 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between August 13 and September 6, 2013 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With a pure probability sample of 2,099, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2.14 and +/-1.66 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies. For full survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact jennifer.grasz@careerbuilder.com.

About CareerBuilder®

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract great talent. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors and 1 million jobs. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing everything from labor market intelligence to talent management software and other recruitment solutions. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.


CareerBuilder Media Contact
For all media inquiries and interview requests, contact:

Jennifer Grasz
(P) 773-527-1164
(E) jennifer.grasz@careerbuilder.com