Employers expect to see more empty seats around the office as the holidays approach, according to CareerBuilder's Annual Absenteeism survey. One-third of employers reported that workers call in sick more often during the winter holidays.

While the cold and flu season is a heavy contributor to workplace absences this time of year, some workers may be using sick days to take care of some holiday shopping or visit with family. Twenty-nine percent of workers admitted to already playing hooky from the office this year, citing errands and plans with family and friends among the top reasons for calling in sick when they were well.

When asked to share the most unusual excuses employees gave for missing work, employers offered the following:

  • Employee's 12-year-old daughter stole his car and he had no other way to get to work
  • Employee said a refrigerator fell on him
  • Employee was in line at a coffee shop when a truck carrying flour backed up and dumped the flour into her convertible
  • Employee said a deer bit him during hunting season
  • Employee got his toe caught in a vent cover
  • Employee's brother-in-law was kidnapped by a drug cartel while in Mexico
  • Employee drank anti-freeze by mistake and had to go to the hospital
  • Employee was at a bowling alley and a bucket filled with water crashed through the ceiling and hit her on the head

Calling in sick without a legitimate excuse can have serious consequences. Fifteen percent of employers said they have fired a worker for this reason. Twenty-eight percent have checked up on an employee:

  • 69% required a doctor's note
  • 52% called the employee
  • 19% had another employee call the employee
  • 16% drove by the employee's home

Many employers are more flexible in their definition of sick day and will allow employees to use them to recharge and take care of personal needs, says CareerBuilder. This is especially evident post-recession when employees have taken on added responsibilities and are working longer days. An employee's best bet is to be up front with his or her manager.

For more information: www.careerbuilder.com/share/aboutus/pressreleasesdetail.aspx?id=pr663&sd=10%2f20%2f2011&ed=10%2f20%2f2099&siteid=cbpr&sc_cmp1=cb_pr663_