Excuses, Excuses, Excuses…

October 28, 2011

A nationwide study conducted by Harris Interactive from August 16 to September 8, 2011, and reported in Career Builder, reported some pretty zany excuses for why employees miss work. The study included more than 2,600 employers and 4,300 workers.

Here are some of the unique reasons employees called out sick:

  • Employee’s 12-year-old daughter stole his car and he had no other way to work. Employee didn’t want to report it to the police
  • Employee said bats got in her hair
  • Employee said a refrigerator fell on him
  • Employee was in line at a coffee shop when truck carrying flour backed up and dumped the flour into her convertible
  • Employee said a deer bit him during hunting season
  • Employee ate too much at a party
  • Employee fell out of bed and broke his nose
  • Employee got a cold from a puppy
  • Employee’s child stuck a mint up his nose and had to go to the ER to remove it
  • Employee hurt his back chasing a beaver
  • Employee got his toe caught in a vent cover
  • Employee had a headache after going to too many garage sales
  • Employee’s brother-in-law was kidnapped by a drug cartel while in Mexico
  • Employee drank anti-freeze by mistake and had to go to the hospital
  • Employee was at a bowling alley and a bucket filled with water crashed through the ceiling and hit her on the head

What would you do if one of your employees called in with an excuse as questionable as these. Certainly, it appears that most of these excuses could be verifiable, but what if they were not? In the same study, 15% of employers said that they have fired employees for calling in sick without a legitimate excuse. Also, 28% of the employers indicated that they have checked up on an employee who called in with a questionable absence. Of those employers, 69% required the employee to provide a doctor’s note, 52% called the employee at home, 19% had another employee call the employee, and 16% drove by the employee’s home.

At the end of the day, it is probably a good idea to have a consistently enforced policy that requires employees to provide some type of documentation to verify the reasons for their absences. If they fail to do so, look to your company’s disciplinary policy on how they should be handled at that point.