Staffers behaving badly: Crazy sick day excuses

Sometimes it takes some examples of truly awful employees to remind us that maybe we don’t actually have it so bad. 

CareerBuilder’s always-hilarious list of crazy excuses for missing work was recently announced, and it had some real doozies on it this year. Take, for instance, the employee who was surprised to find that after a weekend at a casino they still had some money left over … so they did the logical thing and called in sick on Monday to spend that.

Other instances of crazy responses:

  • Employee just put a casserole in the oven.
  • Employee’s plastic surgery for enhancement purposes needed some “tweaking” to get it just right.
  • Employee was sitting in the bathroom and her feet and legs fell asleep. When she stood up, she fell and broke her ankle.
  • Employee woke up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it.
  • Employee had a “lucky night” and didn’t know where he was.
  • Employee got stuck in the blood pressure machine at the grocery store and couldn’t get out.
  • Employee had a gall stone they wanted to heal holistically.
  • Employee caught their uniform on fire by putting it in the microwave to dry.
  • Employee accidentally got on a plane.

In fairness, we can’t tell you how many times we’ve accidentally cleared airport security and boarded an airplane.

‘Presenteeism’ is also an issue

Of course there are times you kind of wonder why an employee bothered showing up to work in the first place . Just being at work doesn’t necessarily mean work is getting done. This there-but-not-all-there situation is often referred to as presenteeism – and it can hurt productivity just as much as workers being out of the office.

A recent example: A New York City government IT worker recently had a 20-day unpaid suspension upheld by a labor judge. It seems the help desk tech was sick of people calling with computer problems, so he answered his phone in a monotone, robotic voice. (“Hello. You. Have. Reached. The. Help. Desk.”)

Frustrated users who were expecting to get a real person who could help them with their problem either hung up or tried leaving a message with the human answering machine. The tech claimed that he was only doing it to hide his heavy Brooklyn accent, but the judge said “Fuggedaboudit.” (Sorry. We had to.)

Sick or not, set expectations

These won’t be situations you’ll ever have to face, hopefully. But either way, it’s important to stress to your team what it means to take a sick day and what it means to be in the office.

Make sure your department’s policies cover:

  • Notifications. Who should workers inform when they need a sick day? What’s the proper channel for taking one?
  • Expectations. When workers stay home, their primary focus should be on getting better. Avoid the phone calls asking them for “just one thing.”
  • Replacements. Who fills in for each worker when they’re sick? This should be decided ahead of time, and prepared for with cross-training, and
  • Good decision-making. There are times when there’s just nothing to be gained from an employee showing up sick or in no condition to work. Make sure they take these days off rather than trying to tough it out.

Make Smarter Tech Decisions

Get the latest IT news, trends, and insights - delivered weekly.

Privacy Policy