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40 Percent of Workers Took a Fake Sick Day This Year

Topics: Work Culture
fake sick day
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Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t want to go to school? Once in a while, you may have even pretended to be sick in order to get out of going. Well, it turns out that adults like to play hooky, too — and they’re not above faking a sick day to do it.

In fact, 40 percent of workers said they were sick when they weren’t within the last 12 months in order to stay home, according to a recent study from CareerBuilder. Have you ever done the same?

Everyone Needs a Break Once in a While

Part of the problem might be corporate culture. Workers often feel pressure not to use their paid time off. Twenty-eight percent of workers with a PTO program said that they still feel the need to make up an excuse in order to take time off. But, this can cause bigger problems further down the road.

“Life is busy – and occasionally taking time off is necessary in order to show up to work mentally and physically prepared to have a positive impact on productivity,” Rosemary Haefner, CHRO of CareerBuilder, said in a statement. “Your reputation is very important and you should always be upfront and honest with your boss about the time you need off. Outlandish excuses for calling off work can raise red flags and can lead to trust issues, so avoid them at all costs.

Everyone needs time off once in a while. Taking time away from the office has been proven to help workers be more creative and more productive. However, a lot of businesses don’t embrace this and many workers feel tremendous pressure to put in long hours and not take much, if any, time off.

This puts workers in a tough spot. They either need to forgo a much-needed break, or lie to their employer in order to claim the time. The latter choice could potentially jeopardize their integrity and reputation.

Sometimes, Workers Get Caught

Perhaps because it’s such a common phenomenon, workers sometimes get caught ditching work and lying about their reason for being absent. Thirty-eight percent of employers surveyed said that they have checked up on a sick employee in order to verify their excuse. Twenty-six percent said that they’ve fired an employee for calling in sick when they weren’t.

Bosses have different means for checking in with “sick” employees. Sixty-four percent said they’ve required a doctor’s note. Another 46 percent have called the employee to check on them and 25 percent had a coworker call. Twenty-two percent of employers admitted to driving past a worker’s house or apartment in order to check up on their status.

Additionally, almost half of employers, 43 percent, said that they have caught an employee lying about being sick simply by checking in with their social media accounts.

Going in Sick

The allure of a fake sick day is so powerful that a lot of workers actually head into work when they really are under the weather. More than a third of workers, 37 percent, said they’ve gone to work when they were sick in order to save up their sick days for when they were feeling well.

Of course, other pressures also contribute to sick workers showing up when they’re feeling ill — for instance, being among the 32 percent of U.S. private-sector employees who don’t have access to paid sick time. Forty-eight percent of respondents to CareerBuilder’s survey said that they come to work when they’re sick because they can’t afford to miss the payday.

Other workers said that they said they come to work when they aren’t feeling well because the work wouldn’t get done otherwise — 58 percent of respondents chose this option.

Employers should empower their workers to stay home when they’re sick and take time off when they need it for other reasons, too. In the meantime, workers must navigate the tricky landscape of time off in their workplaces. Although, it might be wise to save a few of those sick days for when they’re really needed.

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