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By October 21, 2015Blog

It is that time of year again. CareerBuilder has released their list of the best employee illness excuses of 2015. After polling over 2,000 hiring and human resource managers along with another 3,000, they’ve come up with a very “creative” list. And if some are actually true, the employee was having a very bad day. 

To begin with, the report found 38 percent of employees have called in to work sick when they’re feeling just fine. That number is up from 28 percent in 2014.

Of the employees who called in sick this year but were feeling just fine, 27 percent said they just didn’t feel like going, 26 percent said they needed to relax, 21 percent said they needed to catch up on sleep and 12 percent blamed bad weather.

The bad weather excuse seems to be part of a larger trend as the worst months for calling in sick are the winter months of December through February.

With the number of employees calling in sick up over the past year, managers have increased their monitoring of the absent staff. This year one in three employers (33 percent) checked to see if an employee was telling the truth after calling in sick which is up from last year (31 percent). Of these employers, asking to see a doctor’s note was the most popular way to find out of an illness was real (67 percent), followed by calling the employee (49 percent) and checking the employee’s social media posts (32 percent).

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

  • Employee claimed his grandmother poisoned him with ham.
  • Employee was stuck under the bed.
  • Employee broke his arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich.
  • Employee said the universe was telling him to take a day off.
  • Employee’s wife found out he was cheating. He had to spend the day retrieving his belongings from the dumpster.
  • Employee poked herself in the eye while combing her hair.
  • Employee said his wife put all his underwear in the washer.
  • Employee said the meal he cooked for a department potluck didn’t turn out well.
  • Employee was going to the beach because the doctor said she needed more vitamin D.
  • Employee said her cat was stuck inside the dashboard of her car.

All this calling in sick when an employee is perhaps not ill is forcing employers to act.

Twenty-two percent of employers have fired an employee for calling in sick with a fake excuse, an increase from last year’s 18 percent.

How are they learning about the employee’s dishonesty? The Internet, of course.

Thirty-three percent of all employers have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking their social media accounts, and of those, 26 percent have fired the employee.

Conversely more and more employees are reporting that they can’t afford to take a sick day even when they are ill.

More than half of employees that spoke to CareerBuilder report that they have gone to work when sick because they felt the work wouldn’t get done otherwise. Nearly half (48 percent) say they can’t afford to miss a day of pay, up from 38 percent last year. Those that say their finances keeps them at work when sick are more likely to be younger employees. When the data is broken down by age it looks like this:

  • Age 18-24: 71 percent
  • Age 25-34: 63 percent
  • Age 35-44: 44 percent
  • Age 45-54: 40 percent
  • Age 55+: 32 percent


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