Likely because of the peak in the flu season, January-February is among the most popular times of the year for employees to call in sick, research shows.
But according to a year-end survey of 3,900 workers by CareerBuilder.com, 30 percent of workers claim sick days when they're not truly under the weather.
Next to actually being sick, the most common reasons employees call in ill are they don't feel like going to work, 34 percent; feel they need to relax, 29 percent; have a doctor's appointment, 22 percent; want to catch up on sleep, 16 percent; and need to run errands, 15 percent.
Topping CareerBuilder's 2012 list of unusual reasons for missing work are “My sobriety tool wouldn't allow the car to start,” “I forgot I'd been hired for the job,” “My dog was having a nervous breakdown,” “My dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation,” “My toe was stuck in a faucet,” “I was suffering from a broken heart” and “My hair turned orange from dying my hair at home.”
Not so strange
Oklahomans Cyndy Hoenig of Pure PR and Shannon Warren of OK Ethics aren't surprised at the latter two excuses.
“I once had a girl call me on a Monday morning and tell me that she had gone out of town for the weekend, met a new man and couldn't make it in as she was lovesick,” Hoenig said.
Meanwhile, Warren once had a former employee who inadvertently dyed her hair pink, using a dye named Copper Penny.
“She tried to come to work, but after a mean co-worker said something about it, she fled from the office in tears,” said Warren, noting people today probably would think such splotchy pink hues were intentional.
Crystal Drwenski of the Gooden Group can relate.
“I once didn't go to work because I got a spray tan in the early years of the spray tan phenomenon and was turned the exact color of the oompa loompas in the 1970s version of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,'” Drwenski said. “It was horrible. For two days I was out of the office."
A marketing director of an Oklahoma university said employees have sent her the following text messages: “I've had plumbing problems. … came to work yesterday w/o shower or clean clothes” and “Wilson (the dog) has diarrhea and I have to clean it up. Do you want me to send pics?”
Years ago, when he was a supervisor at AOL, Rick Barnes had an employee call in the Monday after the Daytona 500 when Dale Earnhardt was killed.
“She said he was her favorite driver and she was too distraught to work,” Barnes said. “You gotta love those NASCAR fans.”
A former secretary for a state representative, Ella Couture once left a voice message for her boss, saying “Today was canceled due to lack of interest.”
“My boss actually found it humorous,” Couture said.
Cause for dismissal
Other bosses aren't so good-natured. Of 2,400 employers surveyed by CareerBuilder, 17 percent said they've fired a worker for calling in sick without a legitimate excuse. Moreover, 29 percent have required doctors' notes or called employees later in the day to verify the legitimacy of claimed illnesses. Eighteen percent have other employees call those out sick, while 14 percent have driven by sick employees' homes.