The Fine Art of Calling in Sick

Posted October 26, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder recently published a hilarious list of “The Most Unusual Excuses for Calling in Sick.” They included:

  • 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 was upset after watching “The Hunger Games”

I think we can all agree these are some heinous excuses for a sick day. But the inevitable idea that comes up is this: at least they were honest. How does one call in sick without raising eyebrows or causing resentment or annoyance from your boss or coworkers? Here’s how:

  • Only call in sick when you’re sick or truly cannot go to work. If you’re really sick, don’t go to work. No one wants to get what you have and you’ll be unproductive anyway. Same goes for injuries. If you can’t walk because of a sprained ankle or the like, don’t go to work. But also, don’t call in sick when you aren’t sick or could go to work. Easy, right?
  • Be as honest as you can without sharing too much information. Your boss doesn’t want to hear every detail of your illness, especially if it could potentially turn their stomach. But they also need to believe you’re really sick. So be honest. If you’ve been praying to the porcelain gods since dinner last night, say something like, “I’ve been up all night with a stomach bug.” If you’re hacking up green goo, say, “I’ve come down with a nasty cold and need time to rest and heal up.”
  • Ease back in.If you’ve been out for a day or two, you might want to stay home a third or fourth day, but consider easing back in rather than taking the whole day off. Work from home for a few hours on day three, go in for a half day on day four. Your boss will appreciate you taking the initiative to stay on top of things even though you’re not 100%.

What’s the worst excuse you ever used for calling in sick? Was it anything like those above?

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."