When it comes to getting a day off in the middle of a crazy week at work, people tend to become as creative as they can in coming up with weird, but maybe justifiable, excuses.
Americans are, in general, a diligent lot. But there are days when even the hardest-working employee needs time off and that need doesn't always coincide on a Friday. When this happens, employees often find themselves calling in sick even if they don't really require medical attention. Some are not even ill. Sick and tired, maybe. But definitely not sick.
Employers also practice due diligence when it comes to handling sick calls. Some odd excuses can trigger much suspicion but more often than not, employers rely on old-school detective work when they want to confirm if the employee really is sick, as per CareerBuilder's survey.
Old-fashioned detective work includes checking the employee's social media account - nearly one-third of surveyed employers do it. So if your sick leave excuse is Vitamin D deficiency, do be smart and don't post your beach OOTD (outfit of the day) on Facebook and Instagram.
Sick? Or Just Sick and Tired?
CareerBuilder teamed up with Harris Poll to survey 3,321 full-time employees and 2,326 hiring managers and human resources personnel in the United States from Aug. 12 to Sep. 2, 2015. The participants come from a vast range of company sizes and industries.
The study found 38 percent of employees took a sick leave in the past year even when they were feeling well. In the previous year, about 28 percent of employees did the same. Twenty-seven percent said they needed to see the doctor for a scheduled appointment. An honest 26 percent told their supervisors that they needed a breather; some needed to get some shut-eye (21 percent) and some blamed the bad weather (12 percent). The increase may be due to two improvements in the workplace.
"One reason may be that people are feeling more secure in their employment situation. Also, many employers have broadened the definition of a sick day to include mental health days," said CareerBuilder spokeswoman Ladan Nikravan.
Among the employee participants, 52 percent have a Paid Time Off (PTO) program wherein they can take a day off any time they wish. However, 27 percent of these PTO employees still feel the need to make up some health-related excuse to justify the need to take a leave from work. The practice has increased given that some of them just started in the organization.
Fifty-four percent of the employees drag themselves to work despite feeling ill because they feel the work they leave behind won't be done in time. Forty-eight percent of the employees admitted that they can't miss work because they need the money.
A Season for Fake Sick Calls
The survey also found a 'season' for faking a sick call. December topped the list at 20 percent, followed by January (15 percent) and February (14 percent).
While some employees said they never faked sickness during the holidays, for those who did fake it, spending time with family (68 percent) proved to be the main reason. Some 21 percent said it's because they wanted to shop for the holidays - a good tactic to avoid holiday rush - when the rest of the workforce is stuck behind the desk. Some 9 percent said they just wanted to decorate.
Busted! Employers Know If You're Faking It
CareerBuilder's survey showed that 33 percent of employees do check if an employee's sick call is legitimate. Asking for a doctor's note is the top tool of trade (67 percent), followed by making a personal phone call (49 percent) and checking social media activities (32 percent). Approximately 22 percent of employers have fired someone over a fake excuse.