And the Number One Answer Is: A Chicken Attacked my Mom.
It is a stretch, but considering the fact that our fine-feathered friends are known harbingers of dangerous flu strains that can jump to one human and infect millions, perhaps one could make the argument that this excuse for taking a sick day is not too outrageous. However, that being said, the folks at iCIMS’ partner CareerBuilder, who just compiled their annual list of the wackiest excuses employers received from employees calling in sick, listed the "chicken attack" as their number one choice. Other notable responses included a finger stuck in a bowling ball, a foot stuck in a garbage disposal, and my personal favorite, just not feeling very clever that day. Unusual excuses aside, most employers did report believing their workers when they called in sick, while 29% checked up on the sick employee, and 16% said they had fired an employee whose excuse had not quite panned out.
Growing up with a mother who is a physician, I learned early on that I could not feign an illness and score a day off from school as I suspected some of my friends did, and that ethic has carried over into my working years. No crazy excuses about bowling balls, poultry, fake coughs and sniffles on the phone when I call the office. I appreciate the ability to take time off when I am feeling under the weather and use the privilege sparingly. However, it is important as we again enter cold and flu season (as evidenced by the timing of the annual CareerBuilder survey, and even my colleague’s blog from this time a year ago) to take that day off when seasonal viruses start flying around the office. During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, for example, about 8 million American workers went to work with the flu, spreading the infection to an estimated 7 million more workers. The ability to take paid sick days is more than just a benefit for individual employees, it also serves an important public health purpose and probably saves employers money thanks to less lost productivity.
With such strong evidence to support the case for paid sick time, however, many workers simply do not have that ability. They either have jobs that don’t offer paid time off or actually fear they may lose their jobs if they call out. To remedy this situation, many locales, including New York City and Philadelphia, are considering legislation to mandate paid sick days. In San Francisco such legislation has been on the books since 2007. Of course, many business owners argue that extending such a benefit would harm their business, despite the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the real cost for paid sick days would work out to about 8 cents an hour for private sector jobs.
For those employers who do offer paid sick days, whether by mandate or not, be sure to let prospective talent know it by touting it on your Career Portals. And if it seems like you have heard the excuse about the chicken attack before, start tracking how many run-ins with renegade barnyard fowl that your employees have experienced (as well as their more conventional sick day excuses) with an Employee Management System.
What are some of the best excuses that you have received from employees calling in sick? Be sure to list them in the comment section below.