More workers have been calling in sick when they aren’t actually ill, according to a new survey by human resources company CareerBuilder.

The survey, which polled more than 2,200 full-time hiring managers and human resources professionals and almost 4,000 full-time employees in the United States, found 40 per cent of workers had called in sick when they weren’t actually feeling under the weather during the previous 12 months. That was up from 35 per cent in 2016.

Read: Top 12 excuses workers have used for being late

The most unique reasons that employers had heard for why employees wouldn’t be at work included:

  • An employee called in “fat” because a uniform didn’t fit;
  • An employee ate a toothpick at a restaurant;
  • A worker’s phone exploded and injured their hand;
  • A worker felt it would be safer to stay home because they were unsure of the effects of the pending solar eclipse;
  • An employee didn’t have enough gas in their car to get to work;
  • A worker left their clothes at the laundromat;
  • The dog swallowed an employee’s keys, so they needed to wait until they came out; and
  • The worker was afraid to leave the house because of a bear in the yard.

In terms of what employees actually did on those days when they called in sick, the survey found a mix of answers. The top reason was attending a doctor’s appointment, cited by 30 per cent of respondents, followed by 23 per cent who said they just didn’t feel like going to work. Twenty per cent cited a need for relaxation and 15 per cent felt the need to get more sleep. Another 14 per cent had to take care of errands, eight per cent wanted to clean the house and the same number had plans with family and friends.

Read: Top 10 strange reasons for calling in sick

More than a third (38 per cent) of employers have checked up on employees who called in sick to make sure they were actually ill. When checking up on employees, nearly half (43 per cent) of human resources professionals caught them in a sick day fib via social media. Other methods of checking up include having a co-worker call sick employees to check on their illness (25 per cent); driving past the sick worker’s home (22 per cent); and requiring a doctor’s note from the employee (64 per cent).

In terms of repercussions, 26 per cent of employer respondents have terminated an employee for lying about being sick.

Among employee respondents, the survey found 37 per cent have come into the office while ill to save their sick days for times they’re feeling healthy; 58 per cent said they go to work while sick because the job won’t get accomplished if they’re away; and almost half came in sick because they couldn’t financially handle missing a day of work.

Read: A third of U.S. workers use fake sick days

Copyright © 2022 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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