“I’m sorry I can’t make it into work. My partner put all my underwear in the washing machine.” No? You don’t buy that? OK, how about: “I’m going to be off work for a while. I broke my arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich.” To which the only possible response is: was that tuna, or cheese?
CareerBuilder’s annual survey reveals the most absurd excuses for calling in sick during 2015. Perhaps there are more of them this year because more employees are calling in sick, up from 28 per cent in 2014 to 38 per cent this year. The underwear excuse might be one of those that was full of holes, as one third of employers caught an employee lying about being ill simply by checking social media.
But let’s contemplate the predicaments – real or imagined – of those employees who reported in sick for a moment. There was the chap who claimed that his grandmother poisoned him with ham … or the employee whose wife had discovered him cheating and who had to spend the day retrieving his belongings from the bins … and the employee who said her cat was stuck inside the dashboard of her car.
A couple of excuses, however, make you wonder whether the employer didn’t start to have second thoughts about the wisdom of their decision to offer them a job in the first place. Take the employee who insisted that the universe was telling him to take a day off; or the employee who poked herself in the eye while combing her hair; or the employee who got stuck underneath the bed (presumably within reach of a mobile phone – phew).
The survey, conducted by Harris Poll, sampled 3321 full-time workers, and 2326 HR professionals and managers across industries and company sizes. A little over half of the employees worked somewhere with a paid time-off program. Despite this, many felt the need to make an excuse for not coming into work, more so if they were younger – in the 18 to 34 age group – than older workers.
A picture is painted of workers under daily pressure, with many going into work even though they feel ill, for fear that things won’t get done and they will be held accountable. More than half said they had attended work while sick and just under half said they couldn’t afford to miss a day of pay (up from 38 per cent in the previous year). When this is broken down into age groups, the figures vary considerably. Among the 18 to 24 year olds, 71 per cent said they couldn’t afford to be sick and lose pay. In the 25 to 34 bracket, it was 63 per cent. However, for 55 year olds, the number was only 32 per cent, which goes to prove the old adage “older and wiser” …