“I need to miss work because …”

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Let’s be honest with ourselves here: no one wants to go to work ALL the time. Some days it’s all one can do just to bulldoze through a day, and no one knows that better than a truck driver trying to cover 600 miles on rainy or wintry day while suffering from a cold.

Indeed, it’s unsurprising that sick days – legitimate or otherwise – become more frequent around the winter holidays, with nearly one-third of employers reporting more employees call in sick during this time period than any other, according to a new online survey of 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals plus 3,976 workers across a variety of industries and company sizes conducted by CareerBuilder and polling firm Harris Interactive.

Heck, one of the most popular movies of the 1980s – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – revolved around the adventures of a Chicago high school student who called in sick in order to “play hooky” for a day.

[Mathew Broderick, who played Ferris Bueller in that movie, wonderfully spoofed himself and that long-ago role earlier this year in a TV advertisement for Honda’s new CR-V compact SUV.]

In this case, of course, art is actually a reflection of life (though not nearly with such good camera angles) as CareerBuilder’s survey discerned that 30% of workers called in sick over the past year when not actually ill – a statistic on par with previous years, the firm said.

The best part of this survey, though, is when the researchers asked the participants to share the “most memorable” real-life excuses given for missing work [and I couldn’t stop laughing over these!]:

  • 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's toe was stuck in a faucet
  • Employee said a bird bit her
  • Employee was upset after watching "The Hunger Games"
  • Employee got sick from reading too much
  • Employee was suffering from a broken heart
  • Employee's hair turned orange from dying her hair at home

Here are some other interesting bon mot’s taken from the CareerBuilder/Harris poll:

  • 31% of employers notice an uptick in sick days around the winter holidays. This helps make December the most popular month to call in sick, with 20% saying their employees call in the most during that month. July is the next most popular month to skip out on work, followed by January and February.
  • Next to actually being sick, the most common reasons employees call in sick are because they just don't feel like going to work (34%) or because they felt like they needed to relax (29%). Others take the day off so they can make it to a doctor's appointment (22%), catch up on sleep (16%), or run some errands (15%).
  • 29% of employers have checked up on an employee to verify that the illness is legitimate, usually by requiring a doctor's note or calling the employee later in the day. Some employers have had other employees call a suspected faker (18%) or even gone so far as to drive by the employee's home (14%). 
  • 17% of employers in this survey said they have fired employees for giving a fake excuse.

Tell you one thing: when freight’s got to go, few truckers in my experience will make excuses not to roll – with none of them, in my estimation, even remotely contemplating not hitting the highway because of a “broken heart.”

[Indeed, a great tune by Leland Martin, called Workin’ Class, sums up pretty well the work ethic of most truckers, I think.]

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What's Trucks at Work?

Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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