Human Resources



The worst excuses for calling in sick

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Since proof of being sick is not mandatory, the sickie culture is vibrant and prevalent in the British workplace with 80% of surveyed working Britons having pulled a sickie last year, with only 14% being called out on their excuses.

British employees notified their managers of their “illness” via phone (80%), email (20%) and WhatsApp (16%).

The perceived underlying reason of a sickie is an employee’s negative mental state, which could be triggered by their jobs or private lives. A quarter of respondents pinpointed a bad relationship with seniors or colleagues as the reason for the sickie culture.

Here are the excuses, ranked from the best to worst:

1. Injury: I fell over in the shower and knocked myself out.
2. External: My partner threw the TV remote at me last night and I chipped my tooth.
3. Injury: I fell down the stairs and broke my coccyx (added implication – can’t sit).
4. Careless mishaps: I thought it was Saturday today.
5. Careless mishaps: I accidentally ate cat food instead of tuna and fell terribly ill.
6. External: My doctor’s appointment was delayed by two, then four, then eight hours. Then finally when it was my turn, I was in the toilet, so I kept waiting.
7. Chance: I got lucky last night and didn’t know where I was in the morning.
8. Political: I needed a day to catch-up on Brexit deals and learn how to apply for permanent residency.
9. Careless mishaps: I dreamt I was at work. As I thought I was there I just stayed asleep.
10. Mental health: I had a bad dream and needed the day to recover.

Timing and severity of the excuse dictates whether an employee successfully pulls it off or not – 10% and 20% were sacked or received a formal warning respectively.

“Having and enforcing a clear sick leave policy not only makes legal sense and allows you and your business to track absenteeism, it also means you can keep a pulse of your company’s health and signal to employees that you take their wellbeing seriously and are always looking for ways to proactively help them,” said Hannah Sims, product manager at Perkbox Medical.

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