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Charlie Duff

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Sickie Monday – did you notice a high number of sick workers?


Some 350,000 British employees are estimated to have called in sick to work on ‘Sickie Monday’ (the first Monday in February), costing businesses around £30 million in lost revenue.

According to research by the Employment Law Advisory Service (ELAS), 25% of employers now accept emails or text messages from staff to say they are ill, instead of the traditional phone call, making it easier for employees to fake it.

ELAS’s Peter Mooney said: “The traditional phone call was always a way for bosses to decipher whether staff members were bluffing or genuinely ill.

“But now, as our research shows, many employers are dispensing with it, which leads me to think that the system will be open to more abuse than ever”.

Truly engaged employees are often reluctant to take time off work even if they feel ill, and sometimes stressed employees behave in the same way although their motives are different (and stress makes people more likely to fall ill). However, HR professionals know that encouraging staff to take time off to rest and recuperate rather than infecting everyone is undoubtedly a good idea – and maybe there is something ‘going round’ which might explain the high number of absences. However, just for fun, we present a list of the worst excuses one HR director has ever heard.

Bizarre excuses
“You would have thought that the recession would have helped people realise how lucky they are to have a job compared to the two million on the dole; yet some will still come up with some pretty mad reasons to avoid a day of hard work”, commented Charlie Mullins, managing director of Pimlico Plumbers, which today revealed some of the bizarre explanations offered by its workers over the years as reasons for a day off work.

Among the excuses offered were:

  1. “I got run over by a car three years ago and it weakened my bones. That’s why when my dog banged into me, my tooth fell out”.
  2. “I’ve swallowed a hot sausage last night and it’s burnt my throat so badly I can’t breathe properly”.
  3. “My Grandad died in Spain, I went out there to visit my Grandma for the funeral, but she died whilst I was there, so I went and got drunk”.
  4. “Me and my cousin were in the pub and we had an argument because he’s a druggie. I was so mad I stormed out the bar and didn’t look the right way when I was stepping out and I got run over by a car doing 70mph”.
  5. “I’ve got a suspected broken back, the doctor said it’s because I’ve done excessive painting”.
  6. “My Dad couldn’t get me into work because his moped broke down at the weekend”.
  7.  “I bought a dog, it’s a staffie-bull terrier cross, it’s only four months old and it was in the front garden and it jumped the fence. It ran into the road and a police car knocked it over and killed it. I need the day off because I’m suing the police”.

“I just couldn’t make this stuff up, although I suspect some of these former employees might have done!”, said Dominic Ceraldi, HR director for Pimlico Plumbers.

What’s the strangest excuse you’ve ever heard for not turning up to work? Tell us below!

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Charlie Duff


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