Whether it’s to finish binge-watching their latest Netflix obsession, take care of personal errands, or simply needing a day off, many workers aren’t above taking a sick day despite having a clean bill of health.
According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 38% of employees have called in to work sick when they’re feeling well in the past year, up from 28% last year.
Of the employees who have called in sick when feeling well in the past year, 27% said they had a doctor’s appointment, the same proportion said they just didn’t feel like going, 26% said they needed to relax, 21% said they needed to catch up on sleep, and 12% blamed bad weather.
Of the 52% of employees who have a paid time off (PTO) program that allows them to use their time off however they choose, 27% say they still feel obligated to make up an excuse for taking a day off (compared to 23% last year), and many of them are relatively new to the workforce.
Of the employees who have a PTO program, 32% of those ages 18–34 say they still feel obligated to make up an excuse, compared to 20% of those 55 and older.
More than half of employees (54%) say they have gone into work when sick because they felt the work wouldn’t get done otherwise.
Sorry, I Can’t Make It In
When asked to share the most memorable excuses for workplace absences they’ve heard, 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.
Bluffing to Fight the Winter Blues
The most popular months for employees to call in sick continue to be December (20%), January (15%), and February (14%), on par with last year’s survey results.
And while less than one in 10 employees (9%) say they have ever faked being sick during the holidays, those that do most often say it’s to spend time with family and friends (68%), while others wanted to holiday shop (21%) or decorate for the season (9%).
Although most employers claim to trust their employees, one in three employers (33%) has checked to see if an employee was telling the truth after calling in sick this year, compared to 31% last year.
Of these employers, asking to see a doctor’s note was the most popular way to find out if the absence was based in truth (67%), followed by calling the employee (49%) and checking the employee’s social media posts (32%).
More than one in 5 employers (22%) have fired an employee for calling in sick with a fake excuse, an increase from last year (18%).
Thirty-three percent of employers have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking their social media accounts, and of those, 26% have fired the employee.