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Think before taking a sick day when you’re well

CareerBuilder | November 16, 2017

Call in sick

More workers calling in sick when they aren't. Read this advice on taking a sick day.

Calling in sick when you’re healthy might seem like an innocent white lie, but be careful – it could cost you your job. According to new CareerBuilder data, 40 percent of workers have called in sick in the last 12 months when they weren’t, and over a third of employers (38 percent) have checked up on a worker who called in sick to make sure he or she was actually sick. Twenty-six percent have even fired a worker for calling in sick with a fake excuse (up from 22 percent last year.)

How are workers using their “sick” time?
While they may not necessarily be sick, 30 percent of workers who have called in sick cite having a doctor’s appointment as the top reason to take a sick day, followed by: just didn’t feel like going to work (23 percent), needing to relax (20 percent), and needing to catch up on sleep (15 percent). Running errands (14 percent), catching up on housework (8 percent), and plans with family and friends (8 percent) also appeared on the list.

Caught in the act

When checking up on an employee who called in sick, 64 percent of employers required a doctor’s note, 46 percent called the employee, 25 percent had another worker call the employee, and 22 percent drove by their house or apartment.

When asked to share the most dubious excuses workers have given for calling in sick, employers reported hearing the following:

A bear was in employee’s yard and they were afraid to come out

Employee’s phone exploded and it hurt their hand

Employee ate a toothpick in his food at restaurant

Employee broke his arm wrestling a female bodybuilder

Employee called in “fat” because uniform didn't fit

Dog swallowed employee’s car keys so she was waiting until it came out

Employee left his clothes at the laundry mat

Employee did not have enough gas to get to work

Employee had to re-schedule a new manicure because some of their artificial nails fell off.

Employee was not sure how the solar eclipse would affect them so it would be safer to stay at home.

Need to take a day off?

Life is busy – and occasionally taking time off is necessary in order to show up to work mentally and physically prepared to work. If you need time off, Rosemary Haefner, CHRO of CareerBuilder advises workers to “always be upfront and honest with your boss about the time you need off. Outlandish excuses for calling in sick can raise red flags and can lead to trust issues, so avoid them at all costs.“

Actually feeling sick? Learn more about when you should take a sick day.