A new report has revealed that sick days cost UK businesses over £23 billion a year. And while no doubt there are those who are rendered incapable by a bout of something serious, around £9 million of this is lost because people are pulling a sickie. In fact, the report claims that one in three people have done this in the course of their career.
And some of the excuses they use are impressively inventive.
The report, by PricewaterhouseCoopers, found that the most common real reason for pulling a sickie was a hangover - given as a cause by almost one in three people. This was followed by a quarter who took time off to go to a job interview, a quarter who simply couldn't be bothered to turn up because they're so bored with their job, one in ten who took the time to watch a sporting event, one in ten who couldn't be bothered because it was a Monday, and one in ten who decided they wanted to enjoy a burst of good weather instead.
However, perhaps wisely, they decided that phoning in to explain that they hated their job too much to show up wasn't a good idea, so a range of alternative excuses were brought into service. The most common (unsurprisingly) is simply saying that they are too ill to work.
"I was attacked by ants"
"My dog has eaten my keys"
"I got a rash from eating too many strawberries"
and a male employee who claimed "I've started the menopause"
The same survey last year produced another bumper crop of great excuses, including:
"A can of baked beans landed on my big toe"
"I was swimming too fast and smacked my head on the poolside"
"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 slipped on a coin"
"I burned my hand on the toaster"
"My toe is trapped in the bath tap"
and "My trousers split on the way to work"
Why?The report concluded that UK employees take three times as many sick says as people in Asia, and nearly double the number of people in the US, so something needs to be done to address sickie-taking.
The company thinks the solution lies in persuading people that work is a great place to be. Jon Andrews, head of human resources consulting at PwC, said:"Our research shows that when it comes to reducing absence levels, carrot rather than stick is the best approach. Having a flexible working culture can go a long way to breaking the cycle of people feeling that they are entitled to days off outside of their holiday allowance and encouraging better employee engagement. The change in law that means anyone now has the right to request flexible working should help more people achieve the work/life balance they need without impacting on organisations' productivity."
However, there are those who highlight that traditionally the parts of the world with lower absence rates tend to be those with less generous sick pay policies. So, for example, 39% of American workers in the private sector don't get sick pay - which would make you think twice before deciding to stay in bed.
But what do you think? Have you ever pulled a sickie? And what was your most creative excuse?