National Sickie Day – Good and stupid reasons to take a day off work.

According to national statistics the first Monday in February is the day when people are most likely to pull a sickie.

One of the factors attributed to this is the first payday since Christmas, meaning people have been out celebrating all weekend with a particularly heavy one. Another theory is that people have a tendency to re-evaluate their career path in January, meaning that a lot of these sickies are actually to attend interviews. These factors combined have been linked to the estimated 350,000 absences from work on the first Monday of February last year.

According to Hyper Recruitment Solutions, a quarter of February’s interviews take place on this day. This is because many people re-evaluate their life after Christmas and spend January planning any new career changes ready for February interviews.

The figure this time around is predicted to be higher than previous years thanks to a combination of factors.  These include it falling after Super Bowl Sunday, the first weekend after Dry January, the first post-Christmas pay day and the recent snowy weather.

It is predicted this will cost the UK economy around £45million, thanks to lost hours, wages and overtime.

I don’t know about you but I’ve never taken a sickie but wherever I’ve worked, there were always certain people who we knew were prone to using the slightest excuse to avoid coming in to work.

With the odd exception, before I started my own company, I’ve worked for mostly terrible managers or organisations in general.  Even when it was a good place generally, I’d be one of the unfortunate people who work for the one horrible and generally inept personality in the building.

I remember one time of being accused of both planning to be ill and making up the fact that I’d been ill despite being obviously ill for a week or two after I couldn’t come in one day.  I went to see my doctors that day and I was told I really should be intensive care and he was amazed when I told him what was going on at work.

Happily most workplaces have managers that are slightly down the scale from the Hitler types that I’ve worked for and according to a survey by AXA PPP, flu satisfied four out of 10 bosses, followed by back pain and injury caused by an accident when calling in sick.

Although eight per cent of managers were not convinced by any of the nine ailments listed below.

Good Excuses

1. Flu
2. Back pain
3. Injury caused by accident
4. Stress
5. Elective surgery
6. Depression
7. Anxiety
8. Common cold
9. Migraine
10. None of the above

Of course we all know of people who are less than ethical with their approach to work and below is a list of actual and yet totally pathetic reasons given last year by people who couldn’t come to work.

  1.  I can’t come in today because my flatmates took my door handle off and I can’t get out.
  2. All of my work clothes are wet so I can’t make it in today.
  3. I’ve managed to secure a parking space outside my house and I can’t risk losing it.
  4. Goats got into my garden.
  5. I’m stuck in the bathroom. (These pesky doors!)
  6. My mum was hoovering the stairs and I couldn’t get past.
  7. My hamster’s poorly.
  8. Death of a distant relative (often found out later to be very much alive).
  9. My trousers split on the way in.
  10. I swallowed a hot sausage last night and it burnt my throat so badly I can’t breathe today.
  11. “My only pair of work trousers is in the wash”
  12. “It’s my dog’s birthday and I need to arrange a party for him”
  13. “The dog ate my shoes”
  14. “I got arrested”
  15. “I lost my PPE”
  16. “I stayed out partying last night and haven’t had any sleep”
  17. “My friend is on annual leave so I can’t get a lift”
  18. “I have no way to get to work”
  19. “My wife earns more than me so I have to look after the kids”
  20. I need new tyres on my car, so it would be illegal to drive to work
  21. I can’t afford to put petrol in my car to get to work
  22. The weather is too bad to cycle to work
  23. I am too tired to cycle to work 
  24. My grandfather has died (the company’s HR manager bumped into the grandfather, who was very much alive and well)
  25. My dog has chewed my shoes
  26. I’m trying for a baby
  27. I am still over the limit
  28. I have to move house today and only found out last night
  29. There’s a mouse in my kitchen 
  30.  The sun is making me feel sick
  31.  My dog has heatstroke
  32.  I’ve got indigestion
  33. I’m too sunburnt

I must say, if I received one of these excuses then that person likely wouldn’t have a job in my office for much longer.  Employers are perfectly entitled to challenge the authenticity of an absence; if an excuse seems too far-fetched then ask for evidence if appropriate.

Many workers pull sickies due to the weather, tiredness or “they just don’t feel like it”

Over half aren’t asked for proof of sickness (57 per cent) and of those who were, consequences were as diverse as getting fired (one in 10), a formal warning (one in five) or no implications at all (one in three).

When asked how they communicated this to their managers, one in five said they’d simply email, 80 per cent called and 16 percent WhatsApped – an average that’s slightly higher in London and Manchester at around 25 per cent. However, only eight per cent said they would log it into their HR reporting system and some would even go as far as reporting their sickness to their managers over Facebook Messenger.

44 per cent of those surveyed believe the ‘sickie’ culture may be heightened by employees who have a zero work ethic and are abusing the system. After all, nearly one in 10 of those who were asked for proof of sickness last year faked it and nearly a quarter believe having an awful relationship with their managers and/or colleagues may be a key reason why this behaviour arises in the first place.

On the flip side, nearly half of those polled believe the reason why employees pull sickies is because they are unhappy, depressed and overworked in their current jobs or in their private lives.

You can read more about the downsides to being in an office here 50 Top Grumbles From Working In An Office.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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14 Responses to National Sickie Day – Good and stupid reasons to take a day off work.

  1. One of the best ones I ever heard was …. I’ve cut my self shaving. What he mentioned to a mate that worked with us was that the cut ones on his privates.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ankur Mithal says:

    I think sick leave should be on yr own time. Increase entitlement of leave and let employees decide whether they want it for sickness or travel or anything else.


  3. I like the hoovering the stairs Excuse!! Hahaha! We are all ill here it’s been quite the week! Wish I had a partying excuse but sadly not! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tribal gypsy says:

    my work is deep cleaning had no choice but to take it off.. unpaid… so hear I am reading and writing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The best I have heard was – my mother’s budgie died! Not as silly as it seems. The budgerigar was out of its cage and the mother trod on it. Apparently she worked herself up into a state over it (possibly reliving the fatal moment over and over) and did need quite a bit of support.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: National Sickie Day – Good and stupid reasons to take a day off work. | Stephen Liddell –

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