Can You Top These Crazy Excuses for Calling In Sick?

Almost a third of Americans use a sick day when they aren't really ill.

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The old "toe-stuck-in-the-faucet" excuse, eh? That's just one of a bevy of bizarre excuses American workers used last year to play hooky, according to a new survey.

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Almost one third of workers skipped work when they weren't actually ill, according to online career site CareerBuilder, about on par with figures seen in previous years. While a simple hoarse phone call to the boss or a brief pleading E-mail suffices for most, some workers came up with more "colorful" explanations. Here's a look at some of the more interesting alibis workers used to get out of their 9-to-5:

  • Employee's sobriety tool wouldn't allow the car to start
  • Employee forgot he had been hired for the job
  • Employee said her dog was having a nervous breakdown
  • Employee's dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation
  • Employee said a bird bit her
  • Employee was upset after watching the film "The Hunger Games"
  • Employee got sick from reading too much
  • Employee was suffering from a broken heart
  • Employee's hair turned orange from dying her hair at home

But beyond all the outlandish explanations for an absence, the real underlying reasons are much more simple. Roughly 34 percent of people said they called into work just because they didn't feel like going. Another 29 percent felt they "needed to relax," and more than 20 percent took the day off so they could go to a doctor's appointment. About 16 percent said they needed to catch up on sleep and another 15 percent used the time to run errands.

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As the holidays draw nigh, employers are expecting an uptick in sick days--legitimate or otherwise--with nearly one-third of companies reporting an increase in absences around the holidays. December is the most popular month to punk out of work, according to the survey, with July a close second followed by January and February.

While it's certainly not novel to play hooky, it's not all fun and games. Twenty-nine percent of employers have checked up on employees to make sure they were really ill, usually by requiring a doctor's note or calling the employee later in the day. Some even reported driving by the employee's home (creepy, much?) or contacting another employee to help expose a suspected faker.

But for those thinking about using a sick day to sleep in, be warned that it could cost you your job. About 17 percent of employers reported firing employees for giving fake excuses.

Meg Handley is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can  follow her on Twitter or reach her at