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I Can’t Come Into Work Today Because

Have you ever called into your job and taken a sick day without really been sick, well then you are not alone. A survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Kronos Incorporated, found that about half of all Americans have taken a fake sick day.

Australia and Canada are about level according to this survey, it also revealed that 71% of Chinese workers have called in sick (when they weren’t) and interesting to note that in France this number is only 16%.

Perhaps this is mainly due to the fact that in general the French tend to get more holidays and bank holidays than other counties, could it then be reasoned that people in general need a certain amount of time away from their jobs every year!!

The majority of people I spoke with in the run up to this article admitted that when they rang in sick it was mainly due to stress, extreme fatigue or just unable to ‘face the day’.

Also according to this survey “When asked why they have ever called in sick when they were not actually sick, the overwhelming response in every region was that employees felt stressed/needed a day off: 71 percent in Canada, 62 percent in the U.S., 60 percent in China, 57 percent in the U.K., 53 percent in France, 51 percent in Australia, 46 percent in Mexico, and 44 percent in India.”


When those interviewed were asked what their employees could do to help reduce sick days the largest response was the possibility to work ‘flexible hours’, the possibility to work from home 1 day per week or a certain number of ‘duvet days’ per year, where one could take a day off without the added stress of having to make that ‘Fake Sick Call’…

Julie Sue Auslander – President / Chief Cultural Officer of cSubs | Subscriptions Simplified had this to say –

“For the last 10 years we have a “Flex Day” policy. Under this policy you have 10 days a year to do with as you please. Sick, hung-over, mental health, kids school trip, vacation, it doesn’t matter. We don’t care & they don’t tell. Employees can also split up their flex time for partial days, carry them over from year to year & work from home if they need to.

We believe that if you are working you are an adult & you can make the best decisions for you and the job will get done sanely.”

I ask a number of people to share with me the excuse they gave when ringing into work and the reality – below are the most amusing

Chris Wise from Customer Rave

Excuse: I can’t come in to work today because my son is having an allergic reaction to some sort of a bug bite.

Reality: We were at Disney World and he was having an awesome reaction to riding all of the rides, eating tons of junk food, and meeting his favorite characters.

David from London

Excuse : I can’t come to work today because my cat fell from my balcony window and broke her leg, I need to take her to the vet.

Reality: I’m playing golf with my friends

Pat from Ireland

Excuse: The chip pan caught on fire yesterday while cooking dinner causing a terrible amount of damage in the kitchen.

Reality: I spent the evening in the pub, was so drunk that I was unable to get the key in the door and had to sleep on the front steps until daybreak.

(To be honest Pat I think I may have preferred to go to work in your case) 🙂

So what’s the best excuse you’ve ever used or heard….

“Image from Tupungato /Shutterstock.”

I am a Stress Management Coach (also a Holistic & Natural therapist and teacher). I am dedicated to managing stress, resilience and well-being, my training courses and consultancy are designed to help create a working (or home) environment where resilience is enhanced and well-being is protected, allowing people to respond positively to challenges and perform at their best. I provide in-house training courses, consultancy and workshops to private and public sector organisations (also one-on-one sessions). I specialise in providing practical training for managers and employees aimed at minimising the risk of stress and enhancing well-being within the organisation.

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  • LOL! Hi Catherine, what a funny post! I’m afraid I’ve not got any to match your examples which are fantastic. I think the insight as regards ‘flexible hours’ is something a lot more businesses could/should take on board.

  • Andrea Donnelly

    In my younger day I actually phoned into my boss pretending to be my flatmate who was phoning on my behalf because i was too sick to come to the phone (Public phone at the end of the road) – we were both from Ireland living in London and i thought he’d just think all Irish girls sound alike anyway and that it was too bizarre that i would phone in pretending to be someone else!- how young and foolish was I, I’m sure he knew rightly!

    But i think that is the beauty about working for yourself – no need to ask permission to take time off and you know its up to you to make the time up to get the work done.

  • I do think flexible hours are the future, I see more and more companies using this system in France, certainly if it can aid in reducing stress and the amount of sick days that employees take then it surely is a good thing.

  • I giggled at your example Andrea, I had some wonderful and wacky examples in the run up to this article… seems everyone, at some point of their lives, have had a ‘fake sickie’ 🙂

  • Connor Keppel

    Great post… This is a crass but hilarious example.  My brother’s college buddy once rang into his part-time work saying he couldn’t come into work because he was sick.  When asked how sick he was, he simply replied “I’m in bed with the neighbour’s dog”. He never worked there again…  

  • I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!

  • Oh my gosh I’m laughing out loud here Connor 🙂

  • Great post Catherine – I am somewhat surprised by the stats – I would not have thought the Canadians to be a naughty race – would expect to see Ireland at 71% yes. The Americans get the least holidays that I am aware of, and many work in very controlling environments, I am sure it contributes to their high % in those stats.

    I would still love to see where we (Irish) stand in those figures 🙂

    Here’s what happens when your boss rings in sick – enjoy 🙂

  • I love that video, so funny.  Yes it would be interesting to see the Irish stats on such a subject, however to really get a clear picture I would envision a survey aimed just at Ireland, as an educated guess I’m imaging more than half of the population have, at some point, taken a ‘fake sick day’ but I may be generous in that calculation.  Might be worth investigating for a future article 🙂

  • Great article, Catherine. With the state of the ecomony and the jobs market, employers seem to be piling more and more work onto their employees, adding to the stress and fatigue that will ultimately damage things like motivation and loyalty.

    Managers need to understand and realise that we’re all humans at the end of the day – we need to re-charge our batteries.

    I bet if a company gave all its employees just ONE duvet day a year, their productivity would increase greatly – sure, they look one day’s productivity from every member of staff, but it’s a great incentive that could improve their productivity for the remainder of the year, making up for that day off and then some!

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    Thanks for the warm welcome! It’s good to be back!

    When I ran across that quote, I thought it was absolutely perfect! It’s extraordinary how many opportunities to collaborate are present and it seems that people are less reluctant to explore mutually beneficial relationships.

  • Couldn’t agree more. Luckily for us, cloud applications lend themselves so elegantly to this concept, allowing us to forge great relationships with companies like Receipt Bank and DropBox to provide complimentary products for our customers seamlessly integration with our own. And it gives us the opportunity to discuss business growth and exchange mutually beneficial contacts with our collaborators.  Basically making new friends!

  • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey


    Very true about Tweak My Biz! No matter where we are geographically, this community has demonstrated a willingness to partner up, support, answer questions and have fun. This lays the foundation for good opportunities for collaboration.

    Perhaps channeling our competitiveness or the mindset that business must be about winning all of the marbles is what has to change. I love the image of leaving our fears and pride in the dishwasher with our cereal bowl. 🙂 That’s an excellent first step!

  • Tim Harwood

    Thanks William – Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Tim Harwood

    Thanks Herby – I really believe you only learn when you are ‘doing’

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