These People Called in Sick to Work — and Their Excuses are Ridiculous

Updated November 1, 2016
by Dana Sitar
Staff Writer
Sick day excuses

Have you ever called in sick…. when you were definitely feeling fine?

Most of us who have spent some time as employees have probably done this once or twice.

I will admit that at my first full-time job, I used all of my allotted six paid sick days each of the four years I was there — even though I’m sick, on average, maybe one or two days a year.

You don’t have to admit it out loud.

If you’ve played hooky, you’re not alone. CareerBuilder recently put out a survey that found more than a third of employees have called in sick when they were feeling just fine in the past year.

SICKEXCUSES1016

You can probably sympathize with their most common reasons:

  • 28% said they just didn’t feel like going in
  • 27% took the day off to go to the doctor
  • 24% said they needed to relax
  • 18% needed to catch up on sleep
  • 11% took the day to run personal errands

The Most Outrageous Sick Day Excuses

Some employees feel the need to get creative — or way too honest — when they call in sick.

CareerBuilder also asked hiring and human resource managers taking the survey to share some of the most absurd excuses they’ve heard.

Here are some of their reported real-life sick day excuses from employees:

  • The ozone in the air flattened his tires.
  • Her pressure cooker had exploded and scared her sister, so she had to stay home.
  • He had to attend the funeral of his wife’s cousin’s pet because he was an uncle and pallbearer.
  • She was blocked in by police raiding her home.
  • Her roots were showing and she had to keep her hair appointment because she looked like a mess.
  • They ate cat food instead of tuna and were deathly ill.
  • She admitted she wasn’t sick…  but her llama was.
  • She used a hair remover under her arms and had chemical burns as a result. She couldn’t put her arms down by her sides.
  • He was bowling the game of his life and couldn’t make it to work.
  • He said he had better things to do.
  • They ate too much birthday cake.
  • They were bitten by a duck.

You Might Get Fired for Lying About Being Sick

If you’re thinking about taking advantage of your sick days, know that some employers won’t let it slide.

More than one in five — 22% — of employers say they’ve fired an employee for calling in sick with a fake excuse.

How do they know it’s fake?

More than a third — 34% — have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking social media. Be careful what you share on Facebook!

Some employers take it farther, though — 33% have checked in on employees one way or another. Most asked for a doctor’s note, but some actually checked in with a phone call — and 18% even drove past the employee’s house!

That sounds a little like a sitcom, and maybe those drive-by employers need to rein it in just a bit. But watch your back — their ardor might cost you your job.

Your Turn: What’s the most creative excuse you’ve ever used to call in sick?

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

by Dana Sitar
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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