Sometimes we all need a day off work. Family issues, not feeling well, car problems or need of rest after working late nights for over a week – these are just a few of possible reasons for not attending work. Not all of them will be seen positively by your boss, though. It is considered a good etiquette that you call your boss in advance and explain the reason for not showing up. However, in our working culture skipping work – even due to the reasonable excuse – is considered negative and can even have an impact on your career. The next time you need a day off (due to a real excuse or when stretching the truth to have a day for yourself), you’ll need to think of a proper reason and the right way to approach your boss to save your positive reputation. And the below guidance from our best professional resume writers will help you out.
Statistics behind the sick days
As a part of the employment package, private sector employees have 8 days of sick leave per year in average. The employers, in their turn, would rather you to use as little of the days offered as possible. According to their golden standard, best employees take no more than 2 days off a year. (For more facts on the qualities of model employees from the employer’s perspective, read here: https://resumeperk.com/blog/watch-and-learn-top-15-qualities-of-the-ideal-employee). It’s hard to stay within this limit when you have multiple commitments, but keep in mind that everything that’s over 9 days per year is likely to portray you as a poor worker who steals the credit of team work.
This doesn’t prevent Americans from taking sick days – 40% of employees admitted calling in sick when they were healthy. 28% felt the need of making up an excuse despite the fact they had paid days off and didn’t need the specific reason.
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Honesty is the king
The best policy when calling off work is being honest whenever possible. Honest excuses are easy to check, they sound natural and you’ll unlikely blurt it out one day at the cooler. (There are taboo topics to discuss in the office – check them up: https://resumeperk.com/blog/top-taboo-topics-you-should-never-discuss-with-colleagues). However, if you feel that the real excuse won’t work with your boss, make sure that your story sounds credible – fantastic stories always sound suspicious.
What if you get caught? Bosses often check the excuses of their subordinates. What is more, 26% of them have the experience of firing someone who had used a lame excuse. The result of your overuse of sick days will depend on the corporate policy in your organization (and on your boss’s attitude to you and your contribution), but it’s a surefire fact that you’ll lose credibility and your reputation will suffer. So, whenever possible, avoid using fake reasons and you won’t have to learn tips on resume formatting and professionally update your resume to look for a new job elsewhere.
The weirdest reasons for missing work
Some people’s unwillingness to go to work is so strong that they invent unbelievable stories. Below, we have collected the list of the most curious and funniest real excuses collected by CareerBuilder that people used to stay in. They aren’t the best examples of calling off work, though – just the opposite, never use such kind of excuses as your boss is unlikely to believe you.
- Employee ate cat food instead of tuna and felt terribly sick.
If you had had too much pizza or cake, you probably don’t need to say this aloud to your boss. Mentioning that you have a stomach ache is more than enough.
- Employee had a bowling game of his life and couldn’t interrupt it to make it to work.
His job probably had nothing to do with bowling or sports at all. However, your athletic past can actually help you get a new job – learn how to sell your athletic experience during the interview: https://resumeperk.com/blog/9-ways-to-present-athletic-experience-during-the-interview.
- Employee’s roots were showing and she had to keep her hair appointment
Appearance at the workplace matters, but putting your job at stake for a reason like that isn’t probably worth it.
- Employee was scared by a giant spider and had to stay at home to cope with stress
There’s a scientific reason behind this excuse – a fear of spiders is called arachnophobia. Moreover, when we experience a chronic stress our mental state becomes unstable which can cause phobias, depressions, etc.
- Employee said he had better things to do
Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? If you ever get fired for not showing up at work due to the reason like that, here’s how quit your job in the right way: https://resumeperk.com/blog/how-to-quit-your-job-in-the-right-way.
- Employee couldn’t come to work because she got on a plane by occasion
She had chosen quite an extravagant way to get away from work routine. However, we bet that her boss didn’t appreciate the creativity.
- Employee’s false teeth flew out of the window while driving
Drive safely! And keep in mind that even if this really had been the case, nobody is going to believe it.
- Employee was bitten by a duck
If ducks are mean to you, you’d better spend days in the office rather than coming up with the excuses like this.
- Employee had a headache after visiting many garage sales
Practicality, communication and saving costs are great personality skills. It’s even better to demonstrate them at the workplace.
- Employee woke up in a great mood and didn’t want to spoil it
Maybe, he has finally overcome a career crisis or found the love of his life?
- Employee forgot that he was hired for a new job
The job search and interviewing processes must have been pretty tense and stressful. Can you imagine forgetting to show up for a new job at all?
- Employee couldn’t decide what to wear
Can’t figure out what to wear either but don’t want to skip work because of it? Check our rules of what to wear for a job to make a positive impression: https://resumeperk.com/blog/what-to-wear-for-a-winning-job-interview.
We have listed the above reasons just for fun and strongly not recommend using likewise absurd excuses to skip work. Your boss might not appreciate your sense of humor and this can cost you a job all in all. It’s always better to come up with more realistic issues if you need a day off work.
Poor reasons for not showing up
As we’ve mentioned above, honesty is the best policy. However, not every honest reason should be used as an excuse for missing work. Some of them (such as hangover or headache) are not sufficient to warrant you a day off, and some will simply portray you as an irresponsible personality. Collected below are the examples of poor reasons for skipping work. Although they may be true, they shouldn’t be used when you call your boss and ask for a day off.
- A hangover after the night out
Your colleagues and boss shouldn’t be responsible for your part of the job as you party heavily in the middle of the working week. There are multiple ways to overcome the symptoms of hangover, such as cold showers, caffeinated drinks, fresh fruit, and medications. You’d better take responsibility for your yesterday’s spree and go to work – next time you’ll think twice before going out for a few cocktails on Wednesday.
- Headache, PMS, stubbed toe, etc.
Although these all are health issues, they are insufficient to take an entire day off work. Everyone experiences minor health issues without using them as an excuse for skipping work. If you start experiencing specific symptoms frequently, it’s a sign that you need to take proper care of your health.
- The workload is too heavy
Someone resigned from the job, you were given extra responsibility or the new project was approved, and you have so much work to do that you literally can’t handle it. However, one day at home won’t save the situation and will only postpone the inevitable disaster. Try talking to your boss, explain the situation that you need more time and discuss the possible resolution. Ask for help from co-workers. Don’t shy away from work and don’t refuse working late hours if necessary.
However, if the amount of work doesn’t minimize over time, and you feel that they are taking advantage of you without paying you extra or giving you a promotion, it’s time to consider quitting the job. Here are the main reasons people quit jobs, by the way: https://resumeperk.com/blog/15-common-reasons-why-people-quit-jobs.
- The job is boring and uninteresting
If you experience lack of motivation to do what is required from you, this is none of your boss’s business. On the contrary, problems with workplace motivation mean that you need to take steps and make changes into your daily routine. Taking extra responsibility, gaining knowledge or outside experience or even changing job can work. Taking a day off to lie on the couch and watch TV shows cannot.
- Minor personal event or issue
Is your favorite band coming to town? Or maybe, you plan on meeting with your friends from high school? Anyway, above are not the reasons to skip work. The best tactics is to schedule the event outside of working hours. If that’s impossible and the upcoming event is highly important for you, inform your boss about it a few months in advance.
- Non-urgent errands and appointments
Getting a new hairstyle and manicure, taking care of your car insurance and lawn mowing or going to the bank can – and should – be arranged not in working hours. Your problem with managing your time is not your boss’s problem. Asking to skip work due to minor issues of any kind will make you look irresponsible and not enough committed to the success of the team. These aren’t the traits to demonstrate if you want to build a successful career, are they?
- Bad weather
When it’s showering and the cold wind is giving you chills, it’s so tempting to stay in bed… Unfortunately, your boss doesn’t think like this, as well as your coworkers and your company’s clients. Poor weather (unless there are truly severe conditions when the roads are blocked) isn’t an excuse for calling in sick.
The reasons we’ve just listed are bad for missing work because they only indicate your poor time management, inability to handle your job duties properly or lack of motivation for working. Minor issues of any kind should be taken care of in non-working hours – an appointment with a hairdresser’s isn’t worth loading your colleagues with your urgent tasks.
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Examples of good reasons to skip work
We’ve considered all bad excuses for skipping work above. Now, it’s time to get to the good ones. If you have a reasonable excuse for not showing up (or just need a day off work), it’s important to sound realistic and minimize the possible impact on your career. Below are the best excuses for skipping work. Most of them refer to the urgent issues which need your urgent attention or can’t be resolved in non-working hours.
- Appointment with doctor
All health related issues such as doctor/dentist appointment, medical procedures (such as colonoscopy) or any kind of medical examination are usually respected by bosses.
- Urgent family issues
A new baby in the family, babysitter problems, child’s appointment with the doctor or any other kind of family urgent issues can’t be resolved without your presence.
- Household problems
Leaky pipes, heating system issues should be taken care of immediately. Keep in mind, however, that if resolving those takes a few hours only, boss might ask you to show up as soon as you’re done.
- An interview with another company
Although this is a decent reason for skipping work, be careful with this one. Your boss may question your loyalty and this will affect your career with the previous company. So, you might want to use another reason to have a few hours off. By the way, here are the tips to help you win a job interview.
However, anytime you use a good excuse (or fake one) to skip work, you need to do it in the right way so that your reputation won’t be damaged.
The golden rules for calling off work
- Be careful – your boss might be checking
As we’ve mentioned above, 34% of bosses are checking the excuses of those missing work. And it can cost you a job if you get caught. Therefore, use a real excuse or stick to the one which is hard to check (such as house problems). Moreover, don’t use the same excuse for several times as the next time boss is unlikely to believe you.
Do you have a suspicion that your boss is spying of you? There are surefire signs on spying at work – check them to be aware of the situation.
- Use social media carefully
If you called in sick, sharing the beach pictures in your Instagram is probably not the best idea. Most fake excuses for skipping work are revealed through social media posts. Moreover, avoid sharing your little secret with anyone at work, even if you are friends with your coworker. They might blurt it out by occasion, and your reputation will suffer. Being silent is the best tactics.
Social media can also make or break your job search – learn how to use social media to build your positive digital reputation.
- Be realistic
In addition to sounding trustworthy, your excuses should look realistic as well. For instance, if you claimed to have a cold, it will look suspicious when you show up with no signs of illness the next day. Being realistic implies that the amount of sick leave should be appropriate to the scale of problem that you use as an excuse. For instance, a doctor’s appointment might not guarantee you the entire day off work – if your boss hates leaves, they might convince you to return to the office as soon as you’re done.
- Be honest and brief
If you have a true, legal excuse for staying in, stick to it. Give your boss the most critical details on the situation, but don’t over explain – otherwise, the boss might decide that you are hiding something and therefore trying to excuse yourself. However, be firm – don’t say something like “I might be not comfortable coming to the office today” as you leave the door open for your boss to convince you to come anyway. They may also promise to let you leave earlier as soon as your most urgent tasks are completed.
Debating with your boss isn’t something you need in this situation. Therefore, say “I will not be coming to the office today” and give your reason.
- Call early
If the problems arise in the evening, no need to wait till next morning to inform your boss that you’re not coming. In the morning, it’s better to call as early as possible – around 7pm is a good option. Informing them in advance gives your boss time to find someone to take on your duties so that your absence wouldn’t let the business down. Briefly speaking, it shows dedication – you give your coworkers some time to address the possible problems caused by your leave.
- Take care of your work to get done
Organizing the completion of your responsibilities while you’re away might soften the consequences caused by your leave. If you plan using a sick day in advance, reschedule the important meetings or events and complete critical tasks in advance and your absence won’t cause many problems. If you’ve arranged the sick day in the morning, ask a colleague to cover your work. It’s a good idea to write e-mails or call explaining your key tasks so your coworker wouldn’t have any problems completing them.
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- Act naturally the next day
If you told the truth when calling off work, you don’t need to do anything special the day you return to work. Be ready, though, that this day may be a bit more busy if you have to catch up after the day you’ve missed. However, if you made up an excuse, be cautious.
First, don’t go deep into details. Details are hard to keep in your head, therefore, chances are you’ll stumble upon your own words or give different information to different people. Upon arrival at the office, keep the story short. Secondly, plan your day depending on the excuse you gave – the classic situation when you return to the office with a good tan still works against you.
Don’t overuse your sick days
Whatever your reasons for skipping work are, remember not to overuse this option. It’s better to stay under 8 sick days per year, as we’ve mentioned above. Bosses usually take leaves negatively – even if you have a proper reason to take them. Therefore, the abundance of sick days works against your career.
Moreover, if you feel the need to take sick days often, this may be the indicator that you lack inspiration for working. You are probably unhappy with your current job and are looking for whatever reason to avoid showing up in the office. If you recognized yourself in this description, our career services can help you prepare for a new job search. We provide top professional resume writing services at low cost and will prepare your application documents that present you best to the hiring managers. Get a winning resume and find the job you’ll love – at a very affordable fee.
Skip your work in the right way
Skipping work in order to attend to our personal issues or to have a proper rest. However, you need to create a proper excuse to maintain an image of success-driven, hard-working individual. Avoid using curious or weird reasons to skip work, as they sound trustworthy and the boss probably won’t appreciate your sense of humor. Be honest (or realistic), don’t overuse the number of sick days per year and follow the rules above when calling off work.
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Have you ever skipped work? What was the weirdest excuse you’ve used to call off work?