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Yorkshire's 25 Worst Excuses For Taking a Day Off Sick

Clocks going back

8:37am 25th April 2013

Suspicious managers in the Yorkshire region believe their workers are lying to them in nearly half of the ‘not coming in’ calls they receive - it was found today in a study commissioned by mutual healthcare provider Benenden Health.

The research shows that Yorkshire-based workers admit they could have made it into work and done their job well in a fifth of the sick days they’ve taken so far, with the average Yorkshire person shown to have completely skived off work on four occasions in their life to date, faking sick when they weren’t ill at all.

More than one quarter of employers in Yorkshire rigorously question those who don’t sound ill enough or who give weak excuses, while factors like the weather being nice or the person seeming fine the day before also arouse suspicion, according to the study.

It also emerged almost of a third of bosses in the region always scour the social media profiles of those they suspect to be taking a sickie, looking for proof they are ill – or ways to catch them out.

Yesterday, Gill Landon, HR & Development Director at Benenden Health said: “In a tough economy, managing sickness absence becomes vital for businesses, but employers are clearly suspicious about days taken off for illness – perhaps not surprising given the varied excuses presented for absence.

“High levels of sickness absence can have a huge negative impact on businesses both from a financial perspective and on the effect it has on staff who bear the extra workload and this is naturally causing employers to be more alert to spotting staff who are not genuinely ill.

“However, employers should also show caution - we can see from the findings that being stressed or overworked can result in increased numbers of sick days being taken. Employers need to play their part by ensuring that the wellbeing of staff is dealt with through an effective health and wellbeing policy in the workplace.”

The study of 1,000 bosses and 1,000 employees in the UK found six in ten bosses don’t believe their employees’ excuses when they call in sick – with the most bizarre across the UK including “my dog has had a big fright and I don’t want to leave him” and “a can of baked beans landed on my big toe.”

The Benenden Health research also revealed certain excuses stand up better than others – vomiting bugs, viruses and abdominal pains are more likely to be believed. Although, trying to take a day off sick for neck or back pain, because of a pulled muscle or fatigue will be looked on a lot less favourably, according to the survey.

It was also revealed six in ten bosses trust certain employees a lot more than others when it comes to people calling in sick. Two thirds of bosses still demand their employees ring them when ill and are adamant that a text or email is not tolerated.

But bosses are more suspicious when the weather is good – aware of the temptation to run to the park or beach, while one in two bosses start to ask questions if the absentee seemed fine the day before.

The burden of sickness absence was revealed in the results, say Benenden Health, with almost one in three businesses lacking the resource to manage staff illness. They add that a quarter of managers say there is a real problem with coping with staff absence in their workplace.

The biggest effects of sickness were the demotivation caused to those covering absent team members, according to the survey results, while many chiefs admitted that the lack of an internal sickness policy regularly takes its toll.

A third say their company is in no shape to cope with illness and has too small a staff to cover people, while a quarter have experienced an illness due to trying to work too hard.

Perhaps that’s why, say Benenden Health that 49 per cent of employees in the Yorkshire region dread making a sick call to their boss.

Gill Landon added: “Clearly sickness absence in the workplace, whether through genuine illness or otherwise, does have a significant impact on businesses and so it is important for employers to have a robust procedure for managing absence.

“If an organisation has an effective approach to employee health and wellbeing, this can result in healthier workers who are more productive and who will have lower levels of sickness absence. By adopting a caring approach to their employees’ health and having a proper scheme in place, employers can proactively assist in reducing sickness absence in their workplace.”



  1. A can of baked beans landed on my big toe
  2. I was swimming too fast and smacked my head on the poolside
  3. I’ve been bitten by an insect
  4. My car handbrake broke and it rolled down the hill into a lamppost
  5. My dog has had a big fright and I don’t want to leave him
  6. My hamster has died
  7. I’ve injured myself during sex
  8. I slipped on a coin
  9. I’ve had a sleepless night
  10. My mum has died (this was the second time the person used this excuse)
  11. I am hallucinating
  12. I am stuck in my house because the door’s broken
  13. My new girlfriend bit me in a delicate place
  14. I burned my hand on the toaster
  15. The dog ate my shoes
  16. My fish is sick
  17. I swallowed white spirit
  18. My toe is trapped in the bath tap
  19. I’m in A&E as I got a clothes peg stuck on my tongue
  20. I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am
  21. My trousers split on the way to work
  22. I’m using a new contact lens solution and my eyes are watering
  23. I have a blocked nose
  24. I’ve had a hair dye disaster
  25. I’ve got a sore finger
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