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Employers Share Most Unusual Excuses Employees Gave for Calling In Sick, CareerBuilder’s Annual Survey Finds

CHICAGO, October 11, 2012 – Playing hooky isn’t just for Ferris Bueller. In the past year, 30 percent of workers have called in sick when not actually ill, keeping on par with previous years. 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, 2012 and included 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,976 workers across industries and company sizes.

To Catch a Faker

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. Some employers have had other employees call a suspected faker (18 percent) or even gone so far as to drive by the employee’s home (14 percent). Seventeen percent of employers have fired employees for giving a fake excuse.

Home for the Holidays

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.

At Least You Have Your Health

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).

Excuses, Excuses

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

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,494 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,976 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) ages 18 and over between August 13 and September 6, 2012 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 2,494 and 3,976, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-1.96 and +/-1.55 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder®

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset - their people. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 49 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and talent intelligence to recruitment support. More than 10,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder’s proprietary job search technology on their career sites. 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 http://www.careerbuilder.com/.

Media Contact

Jennifer Grasz

773-527-1164

Jennifer.Grasz@careerbuilder.com

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

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