CHICAGO, Oct. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Employers expect to see more empty seats around the office as the holidays approach, a new CareerBuilder survey finds. One-third (33 percent) of employers reported that workers call in sick more often during the winter holidays.
While the cold and flu season is a heavy contributor to workplace absences this time of year, some workers may be using sick days to take care of some holiday shopping or visit with family. Twenty-nine percent of workers have admitted to already playing hooky from the office this year, citing errands and plans with family and friends among the top reasons for calling in sick when they were well. The nationwide study was conducted by Harris Interactive from August 16 to September 8, 2011 and included more than 2,600 employers and 4,300 workers.
Top time of year for absenteeism
While employers reported heightened absenteeism around the holidays, the prime time of year when companies say employees call in sick is in the first quarter:
- January through March – 34 percent
- April through June – 13 percent
- July through September – 30 percent
- October through December – 23 percent
Texting in sick
When it comes to notifying employers that they are taking a sick day, some workers reported they are bypassing a phone call to the boss and relying on digital communications.
- Phone call – 84 percent
- Email – 24 percent
- Text message – 11 percent
Most unusual excuses
When asked to share the most unusual excuses employees gave for missing work, employers offered the following real-life examples:
- 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 a 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.
Checking up on employees
Calling in sick without a legitimate excuse can have serious consequences. Fifteen percent of employers said they have fired a worker for this reason. Twenty-eight percent have checked up on an employee, citing the following examples:
- 69 percent required a doctor's note
- 52 percent called the employee
- 19 percent had another employee call the employee
- 16 percent drove by the employee's home
"While outrageous events are known to happen, frequent absences and over-the-top excuses can start to bring your credibility into question," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. "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. This is especially evident post-recession when employees have taken on added responsibilities and are working longer days. Your best bet is to be up front with your manager."
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,696 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals and 4,384 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) ages 18 and over between August 16 and September 8, 2011 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 4,384 and 2,696, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-1.48 and +/-1.89 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset - their people. Its online career site, CareerBuilder.com®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 40 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world's top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and data analysis to recruitment support. More than 9,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder's proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit www.careerbuilder.com.