Weirdest excuses for calling in sick

WASHINGTON — Let’s be honest: Everyone has called in sick to work when he wasn’t really ill.

(Editor’s note: Duly noted.)

Let’s try that again: Almost everyone has called in sick to work when he wasn’t really ill. At least that’s what some people say.

And that requires a little creativity, as workers have to come up with a plausible story. But some workers may take it a bit too far.

A CareerBuilder survey of workers and managers has harvested some of the most absurd stories workers have concocted. Managers report having heard some real gems, although to be honest some might fall in the “too weird to be made up” category:

  • One worker said his grandmother had poisoned him with ham.
  • Another claimed to have broken his arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich.
  • One claimed to have poked herself in the eye while combing her hair.
  • A worker said his wife had caught him cheating on her, and he had to spend the day getting his belongings out of a Dumpster.
  • And a woman said she had to go to the beach because her doctor had ordered her to get more vitamin D.

Twenty-seven percent of workers surveyed reported that, when they took a fake sick day, it was for a doctor’s appointment; another 27 percent said they just didn’t feel like going. Twenty-one percent claimed they needed to catch up on sleep and 12 percent blamed bad weather.

The survey found that 52 percent of workers have a program that allows them to use their time off however they like, but of those, 27 percent still feel they need to make up a reason for not coming in.

Breaking it down by age, 32 percent of those between 18 and 34 felt they needed to make an excuse, while only 20 percent of those 55 and older felt the need.

Conversely, 54 percent of the workers surveyed say they’ve gone in to work even when they really were sick because they thought the work wouldn’t get done. And nearly as many — 48 percent — say they can’t afford to miss a day’s pay.

One in three employers has checked to see whether an employee who called in sick was really ill; 22 percent of employers have fired a worker for calling in sick with a fake story — up from last year’s 18 percent.

And whatever you do, keep it offline: 33 percent of employers say they’ve checked workers’ social media accounts in order to catch them taking fake sick days, and of those, 26 percent have fired the workers.

So if you’re going to make something up, make it good: One worker said the universe was telling him to take a day off. As true as that can sometimes be, it probably won’t cut it with most bosses.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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