The 19 most ridiculous excuses people have used to call in sick

Business Insider US
One employee claimed his grandma had poisoned them with ham.
  • 35% of employees reported having called in sick to work when they felt totally fine. Some reasons for taking the day off, however, sound more realistic than others.
  • These strange and outlandish excuses for calling in sick to work may get you the day off, but they'll also raise a few eyebrows.
  • Here are 19 funny and ridiculous excuses people have used to call in sick.
  • For more stories go to

"Hi, boss. I can't come into work today. My grandmother poisoned me with ham."

While that may sound like a completely ridiculous excuse, an employee actually used it, according to a survey released by CareerBuilder.

The survey, which was conducted online in 2016, found that 35% of employees said they have called in sick when they were feeling well.

Here are 19 ridiculous excuses people have actually used to call in sick, according to past surveys from CareerBuilder.

Employee said the meal he cooked for a department potluck didn’t turn out well.

About 35% of workers surveyed by CareerBuilder said they have called in to work sick when they were actually feeling fine.

Employee said her cat was stuck inside the dashboard of her car.

When asked why they called in "sick," 28% said they "just didn't feel like going in to work."

Employee said they were kicked by a llama and suffered a broken leg as a result.

Another 27% of those surveyed said took the day off to attend a doctor's appointment.

Employee said his girlfriend threw a pan of hot grits in his face.

Meanwhile, 24% said they just needed a day to relax.

Employee said their parakeet had the flu and needed to be taken care of.

About 18% said they needed to catch up on sleep.

Employee said her roots were showing and she had to keep her hair appointment because she looked like a mess.

And 11% said took the day off to run personal errands.

Employee said he broke his arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich.

The CareerBuilder survey asked hiring managers and HR professionals to share the most suspicious excuses employees have given for needing to miss a day of work.

Employee’s pressure cooker had exploded and scared her sister, so she had to stay home.

"In some companies, people don't feel comfortable telling their managers they need personal time off, so they will think of an elaborate excuse to get out of work," said Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder's former vice president of human resources.

Employee said they were stuck under the bed.

"The more flexible the work environment, and the more open and honest the communication is across the company, and the less likely it is employees will feel the need to lie," Haefner added.

Employee said the universe was telling him to take a day off.

The excuses below aren't necessarily lies - but most are certainly odd and sound suspicious.

Employee said his wife found out he was cheating, so he had to spend the day retrieving his belongings from the rubbish bin.

If you do need to take a day off, your best bet is to be honest, but not share too many details with your manager, Haefner told Business Insider.

Employee claimed his grandmother poisoned him with ham.

"Many employers are more flexible in their definition of a sick day and will allow employees to use them to recharge and take care of personal needs," Haefner said.

Employee said she poked herself in the eye while combing her hair.

If you choose to fib to get out of going to work, beware: While the majority of employers give their employees the benefit of the doubt, 33% said they have checked to see if an employee was telling the truth.

Employee said they chugged a bottle of mouthwash thinking it was Powerade and was sick as a result.

About 22% of those surveyed said they have fired an employee once discovering they had lied and given a fake excuse.

Employee said his wife put all his underwear in the washer.

"It never fails to surprise me what they say employees have revealed to them in order to get out of work," Haefner said.

Employee said she was going to the beach because the doctor said she needed more vitamin D.

Boston Globe/Getty Images

"The excuses have become increasingly creative over the years," Haefner said.

Employee ate cat food instead of tuna and was deathly ill.

The CareerBuilder study found that nearly half (47%) of employers do not have a flexible PTO policy, where sick days, vacation days and personal days are all lumped in together.

Employee said she wasn’t sick but her llama was.


CareerBuilder says this type of inflexible scheduling "may put an employee in the position of having to fake a cold and take an entire day off when he or she only needed a few hours to take an elderly parent to a doctor's appointment."

Employee ate too much birthday cake.

Remember: the next time you're tempted to call in sick when you are actually feeling fine, you're better off being honest about why you need a day off.

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