The 14 most ridiculous excuses people have used to call in sick

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“My grandmother poisoned me with ham.”
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LearningLark/flickr

“Hi boss. I can’t come into work today. My grandmother poisoned me with ham.”

While that may sound like a completely ridiculous excuse, an employee actually used it this year, according to a new survey from CareerBuilder.

The survey, which was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,326 hiring managers, found that 38% of employees have called in sick when they were feeling well over the last 12 months.

Some just “didn’t feel like going in,” while others “wanted the day to relax” or “needed to catch up on sleep.” A few even played hooky because of bad weather.

“In some companies, people don’t feel comfortable telling their managers they need personal time off, so they will think of an elaborate excuse to get out of work,” says Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s vice president of human resources. “The more flexible the work environment, and the more open and honest the communication is across the company, and the less likely it is employees will feel the need to lie.”

The excuses below aren’t necessarily lies – but they’re certainly odd and sound suspicious.

If you do need to take a day off, your best bet is to be honest, but not share too many details with your manager, Haefner says. “Many employers are more flexible in their definition of a sick day and will allow employees to use them to recharge and take care of personal needs.”

If you choose to fib to get out of going to work, beware: While the majority of employers give their employees the benefit of the doubt, 33% said they have checked to see if an employee was telling the truth, and about 22% said they have fired an employee for giving a fake excuse.

The survey asked hiring managers and HR professionals to share the most suspicious excuses employees have given for needing to miss a day of work. “It never fails to surprise me what they say employees have revealed to them in order to get out of work,” Haefner says. “The excuses have become increasingly creative over the years.”


Employee said he broke his arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich.

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Flickr / slgckgc

Employee said they were stuck under the bed.

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melalouise/flickr

Employee said the universe was telling him to take a day off.

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flickr via marcygallery

Employee said his wife found out he was cheating, so he had to spend the day retrieving his belongings from the dumpster.

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Mark Turnauckas/flickr

Employee claimed his grandmother poisoned him with ham.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture/flickr

Employee said she poked herself in the eye while combing her hair.

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krista/flickr

Employee said his wife put all his underwear in the washer.

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jim212jim/flickr

Employee said the meal he cooked for a department potluck didn’t turn out well.

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Robert Couse-Baker/flickr

Employee said she was going to the beach because the doctor said she needed more vitamin D.

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Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Employee said her cat was stuck inside the dashboard of her car.

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Sean MacEntee/flickr

Employee said they chugged a bottle of mouthwash thinking it was Powerade and was sick as a result.

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Vox Efx/flickr

Employee said they were kicked by a llama and suffered a broken leg as a result.

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REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

Employee said his girlfriend threw a pan of hot grits in his face.

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Neil Conway/flickr

Employee said their parakeet had the flu and needed to be taken care of.

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Cristóbal Alvarado Minic/flickr