Bosses have also been told: “I am hallucinating”, “I am stuck in my house because the door’s broken” and “My new girlfriend bit me in a delicate place”.
The excuses were found in a study of 1,000 workers and 1,000 bosses commissioned by the mutual healthcare provider Benenden Health.
Another employee rang their manager to say they wouldn’t be in work that day as they were in A&E with a peg stuck on their tongue.
“My dog has had a fright and I don’t want to leave him” and “I’ve injured myself during sex” also made the list of reasons to skip work.
Results revealed six out of ten bosses don’t believe employees’ excuses when they call in sick.
It also emerged one in three managers scour social media after receiving a sickie call-in to see whether the staff member is well enough to post updates.
Gill Landon, development director at Benenden Health, said: “In a tough economy, managing sickness absence becomes vital for businesses.
“But employers are clearly suspicious about days taken off for illness – perhaps not surprising given the varied excuses presented for absence.
“This is not helped by the fact that for more than a fifth of the sick days taken, workers admitted they could have actually made it into work.
“High levels of sickness absence can have a huge negative impact on businesses – both from a financial perspective and on the effect it has on staff who bear the extra workload.
“This is naturally causing employers to be more alert to spotting staff who are not genuinely ill, using methods such as checking their social media profiles to catch them out if they are lying or rigorously questioning the reasons they give for their absence.
“However, employers should also show caution – we can see from the findings that being stressed or overworked can result in increased numbers of sick days being taken.
“Employers need to play their part by ensuring that the wellbeing of staff is dealt with through an effective health and wellbeing policy in the workplace.”
The study also found that one in four rigorously question those who do not sound ill enough or who give weak excuses, while factors like the weather being nice or the person seeming fine the day before also arouse suspicion.
The study found certain excuses stand up better than others – vomiting bugs, viruses and abdominal pains are more likely to be believed.
Although, trying to take a day off sick for neck or back pain, because of a pulled muscle or fatigue will be looked on a lot less favourably.
The research also found six in ten bosses trust certain employees a lot more than others when it comes to people calling in sick.
Two thirds of bosses still demand their employees ring them when ill and are adamant that a text or email is not tolerated.
But bosses are more suspicious when the weather is good – aware of the temptation to run to the park or beach, while one in two bosses start to ask questions if the absentee seemed fine the day before.
The biggest effects of sickness were the demotivation caused to those covering absent team members, while many chiefs admitted that the lack of an internal sickness policy regularly takes its toll.
More than half of employees dread making a sick call to their boss.
Yet workers admitted they could have made into work and done their job well in over a fifth of the sick days they have taken so far.
The research showed that the average person has completely skived off work on four occasions in their life to date – faking sick when they weren’t ill at all.
But three in ten workers have been forced to take a day off sick because they were suffering from stress and an exhausted quarter have had to stay at home as a result of fatigue from being overworked.
A third say their company is in no shape to cope with illness and has too small a staff to cover people, while a quarter have experienced an illness due to trying to work too hard.
List of excuses in full:
A can of baked beans landed on my big toe
I was swimming too fast and smacked my head on the poolside
I’ve been bitten by an insect
My car handbrake broke and it rolled down the hill into a lamppost
My dog has had a big fright and I don’t want to leave him
My hamster died
I’ve injured myself during sex
I slipped on a coin
I’ve had a sleepless night
My mum has died (this was the second time the person used this excuse)
I am hallucinating
I am stuck in my house because the door’s broken
My new girlfriend bit me in a delicate place
I burned my hand on the toaster
The dog ate my shoes
My fish is sick
I swallowed white spirit
My toe is trapped in the bath tap
I’m in A&E as I got a clothes peg stuck on my tongue
I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am
My trousers split on the way to work
I’m using a new contact lens solution and my eyes are watering
I have a blocked nose
I’ve had a hair dye disaster
I’ve got a sore finger
- Humorous Work Excuse Charts – The ’16 Excuses for Being Late To Work’ Guide Offers Funny Stories (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
- Employees scared to take sick leave (brodies.com)