‘I caught a plane by accident’: Survey reveals inventive sick day excuses

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(CNN) — Had a big night out? Don’t fancy leaving a cozy bed for the cold outdoors? Having a Ferris Bueller moment?

We may not all admit it but surely everyone has done it: called in to work sick when we’re actually feeling fine.

The challenge for playing hooky is always coming up with a credible excuse. But according to a survey for the online career site Careerbuilder.com, while honesty may be lacking, inventiveness is not.

According to its survey, dubious excuses put forward by U.S. workers for taking a sick day range from an employee claiming a plastic surgery procedure needed some “tweaking” to get it just right, to a worker saying he or she had accidentally got on a plane.

Other gems recounted by employers include:

  • Employee just put a casserole in the oven.
  • Employee’s plastic surgery for enhancement purposes needed some “tweaking” to get it just right.
  • Employee was sitting in the bathroom and her feet and legs fell asleep. When she stood, up she fell and broke her ankle.
  • Employee had been at the casino all weekend and still had money left to play with on Monday morning.
  • Employee woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it.
  • Employee had a “lucky night” and didn’t know where he was.
  • Employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out.
  • Employee had a gall stone they wanted to heal holistically.
  • Employee caught their uniform on fire by putting it in the microwave to dry.
  • Employee accidentally got on a plane.

Over the past year, the survey indicates, 28% of employees have called in to work sick when they were feeling well, down 4% from last year.

Of those, three in 10 said they just didn’t feel like going to work and about the same proportion said they wanted the day to chill out. Around a fifth took the day off to see the doctor, while almost as many just wanted to catch up on sleep.

Fancy a snow day? Bad weather was enough for 11% of employees to take the day off last year.

The danger of faking it is — of course — getting caught.

And some workers just aren’t smart enough to figure out that posting those Facebook pictures of themselves having fun when they’re supposedly ill in bed could be a giveaway.

According to the survey, a quarter have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking social media.

Of those, just over a fifth have shown the employee the door, but more than half only scolded them for the lie.

But while some are wracking their brains for excuses to stay home, there are more who are struggling in to work when they shouldn’t because they don’t feel they can take a day off, the survey suggests.

Some 53% of employees said they’d gone into work when sick because they felt the work wouldn’t get done otherwise, while nearly two in five workers did the same because they couldn’t afford to lose a day’s pay.

So who’s most likely to call in sick? According to the survey, professional and business services employees, with just over a third doing so in the past year, closely followed by those in sales.

IT, retail and leisure and hospitality employees were the least likely to call in sick this past year, with only one in five picking up the phone to make that call.

And when do most sick days get taken? Unsurprisingly, perhaps, in December, January and February, when flu, coughs and colds are doing the rounds.

The survey, conducted for Careerbuilder.com between August 11 to September 5 this year, was based on a sample of about 3,100 workers and 2,200 hiring managers and human resource professionals.

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