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5 Most Common Excuses for Missing Work

Missed days are anticipated in any workplace. After all, employees get sick, they need to attend to routine doctor appointments, family emergencies crop up and so does the need for a “mental health” day every now and again.

But, just how often do employees embellish their excuses or provide untruthful facts about their motives for taking a day off, and what excuses do they use when they do?

That was the focus of a survey from CareerBuilder. The popular website for jobseekers uncovered some interesting statistics about those days when employees “call in sick,” while shedding light on some of the most common excuses for doing so.

CareerBuilder’s survey revealed that while plenty of people call in when they are indeed sick or have another true need to attend to, 28% of respondents admitted to faking it. While that number was down from the company’s 2013 survey result of 32%, the fakers are still out there. Workers cited a number of reasons for faking. Some 29% said they just wanted a day off to relax while 21% had a doctor’s appointment to attend. Another 19% said they wanted to catch up on sleep while 11% said bad weather made them want to stay at home.

Days before holidays, sports competitions and other major events, along with Mondays and Fridays, saw an increase in unplanned absences, according to a 2014 survey from the Society for Human Resource Management and Kronos Incorporated.

When employees do call in, the excuses range from the mundane to outlandish. While employers in the CareerBuilder survey reported hearing such excuses as being stuck in a blood pressure machine at a store and “accidentally” getting on a plane, most excuses are legitimate especially if they are used appropriately. Here is a look at five common excuses employees use to get a day off from work.

1. I’ve Earned It

Burning the midnight oil on behalf of an employer can very well add up to a reason to take a day off to recoup. It’s recommended, however, that employees who’ve gone above and beyond negotiate the day off in advance by simply asking their employer for a day of mental rest to make up for the extra effort put in.

2. I Have a Doctor’s Appointment

Most employers fully understand that it can be difficult to take care of medical appointments and other similar things outside of working hours. It is best, however, to use personal and/or sick days to cover the time or negotiate coming in to work early or working late to cover the lost time.

3. I Have an Illness/Injury

Most employers prefer that workers who are contagious stay home, and those with injury obtain medical attention. That makes this excuse legitimate and quite expected in the daily routine. If allotted sick days have already been used, however, employees are well served by getting a doctor’s note to back up their claims.

4. I Have a Family Emergency

This excuse is also considered legitimate and is anticipated in the course of business, especially for employees with children. If allotted personal and/or sick days have been used, be sure to get a doctor’s note to back up the claim.

5. I Am Having Trouble with My Vehicle

The need for using this excuse can be quite legitimate, but employees often use it when it’s not. To cover the bases, it’s best to get the vehicle taken care of and find an alternative means into the office if repairs will require more than an hour or two of time.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons that require an occasional day off from work. While most people use their days off wisely, some will feign illness or emergencies to “play hooky.” And while organizations plan for employees to be occasionally absent, there are hidden costs to taking time off. The SHRM/Kronos study found that absences cost companies between 20.9% and 22.1% of payroll. Unplanned absences brought about a 36.6% loss of productivity on average, as other workers pick up the slack.

To avoid being seen as a pretender, it is best to cover bases with notes or negotiate in advance for an extra day off, if needed.

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