NEWS FLASH: Many Feign Illness to Take a Day Off!

Everybody knows that many employees take a sick day when they are not sick. A recent survey confirms it.

The CareerBuilder report, released yesterday, states that in the last 12 months, 40% of workers called out sick when they weren’t. Some of the report’s findings:


  • About 37% of employees go to work sick to save their sick days to use when they are not sick.
  • Woman are more likely than men to fake a sick day, by a 43% to 35% margin.
  • Almost 40% of employers have checked on a “sick” worker to make sure the employee was actually sick. Methods include requiring a doctor’s note, calling the employee, having another employee call the employee or driving past the employee’s residence.
  • Remarkably, at least to me, 43% of employers “have caught an employee lying about being sick by checking out their social media posts.” One would think that an employee who fakes a sick day would realize that he or she should avoid posting information about their activities on the fake sick day. Obviously not.
  • 26% of employers have terminated an employee for calling in sick with a fake excuse.

For those bent on pulling a sickie, as they call it in Australia, social media offers advice about how to pull it off without getting caught. An actress who has been a “simulated patient” in medical schools for more than 25 years” offers advice about “how to best fake ill-health.”  Among her suggestions: if you are going to pretend to have a particular medical condition, watch YouTube clips of people with that condition.

Part of the strategy for pulling a sickie is knowing the best time to call out and the best excuse to use. One study reports that the time to call out which raises the least suspicion is Tuesday at 6:38 a.m.  The study also reports that the best excuse is “stomach problems,” perhaps because an employer is less likely to ask follow-up questions about the symptoms.

Once the employee planning a sickie has the logistics in place, there’s one more essential ingredient.  To quote the late George Burns: “Sincerity. If you can fake that, you have it made.”