As we approach peak sick day season, a CareerBuilder-Harris Poll survey looks at sick day trends and some of the most absurd sick-day excuses that have been offered to employees. Managers, fine tune your radar because “the most popular months for employees to call in sick continue to be December (20 percent), January (15 percent) and February (14 percent).”

Of the 3,000+ employees surveyed, 52 percent have paid time off (PTO) benefits, but the right to take time however they choose doesn’t seem to eliminate the tendency to offer an excuse. Here are the top 10 most creative reasons that hiring and human resource managers reported:

  • Grandmother poisoned him with ham
  • Stuck under the bed
  • Broke arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich
  • Universe told him him to take a day off
  • Wife found out he was cheating
  • Needed to spend the day retrieving belongings from the dumpster
  • Poked self in the eye while combing hair
  • Wife put all his underwear in the washer
  • Meal cooked for a department potluck didn’t turn out well
  • Going to the beach because doctor said she needed more vitamin D
  • Cat stuck inside the dashboard of her car

On reading this year’s batch or excuses, columnist Kim Hone-McMahan of the Ohio Beacon Journal thought that her readers could do better. She asked her Facebook followers for the goofiest reasons for taking a sick day they’ve either given or heard. Her readers came up with reasons that varied from having no pants to a guy who called in “dead” after seeing someone with the same name, including middle initial, among the newspaper death notices.

Employees, if you are grappling with an idea for a sick-day excuse, perhaps you should just stick to the classics. A UK survey looked at the success/credibility rate of various maladies, finding “vomiting” and “diarrhea” as the two most convincing excuses. Curiously, hospitalization fell further down on the credibility scale.

Sometimes, creative excuses aren’t used for a sick day, simply for calling in late. A few years ago, we posted our favorite (albeit fictional) creative excuses for being late to work. Here’s an infographic from The Muse and that offers more.



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