According to CareerBuilder's Annual Sick Leave survey, in the past year, 30% 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.

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%) or even gone so far as to drive by the employee's home (14%). Seventeen percent of employers have fired employees for giving a fake excuse.

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% 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.

Next to actually being sick, the most common reasons employees call in sick are because they just don't feel like going to work (%), or because they felt like they needed to relax (29%). Others take the day off so they can make it to a doctor's appointment (22%), catch up on sleep (16%), or run some errands (15%).

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.

The study included responses from 2,500 hiring managers and human resource professionals and nearly 4,000 workers across industries and company sizes.