CareerBuilder's annual survey on absenteeism shows 29% of workers have played hooky at least once this year, calling in sick when they were well. Twenty-seven percent of employers think they are seeing an increase in bogus sick excuses from employees due to continued stress and burnout caused by the weak economy. The survey included more than 3,100 workers and 2,400 employers.

While the majority of employers said they believe their workers when they say they're feeling under the weather, 29% reported they have checked up on employees who called in sick, and 16% have fired an employee for missing work without a proven excuse. Of the employers who checked up on an employee, 70% said they required the employee to show them a doctor's note. Half called the employee at home, 18% had another worker call the employee, and 15% drove by the employee's house or apartment.

"Just not feeling like going to work" is the number-one reason workers said they call in sick with made-up excuses followed by "just needing to relax" and "catching up on sleep." Other reasons included doctor's appointments, needing to run personal errands, and plans with family and friends.

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

  • Employee said a chicken attacked his mom
  • Employee's finger was stuck in a bowling ball
  • Employee said a cow broke into her house and she had to wait for the insurance representative
  • Employee's foot was caught in the garbage disposal
  • Employee had to mow the lawn to avoid a lawsuit from the home owner's association
  • Employee called in the day after Thanksgiving because she burned her mouth on a pumpkin pie
  • Employee was in a boat on Lake Erie and ran out of gas and the Coast Guard towed him to the Canadian side