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“My fish is sick” and other equally legitimate excuses for missing work

We’ve all been there. You wake up in the morning and poor Nemo is floating upside down. You’ve owned him for two weeks so clearly investigating the cause of his disequilibrium and anxiously waiting through the subsequent convalescence is more important than that business deal you’ve been working on, right?

A survey of 1000 workers and 1000 employers conducted by healthcare provider Benenden Health revealed that it was, or allegedly was, for one aspiring animal healer.

The survey showed that 6 out of 10 bosses don’t believe the reasons provided by employees when they phone in sick, but that certain excuses are more readily accepted than others: vomiting bugs, viruses and abdominal pains are more likely to be believed than neck or back pain, a pulled muscle, or fatigue. There appears to be some direct correlation between the credibility of the excuse and its unpleasantness!

The survey showed that employers were more likely to suspect foul play when there was good weather (not likely to have much of an impact in Scotland) or if the individual seemed fine the previous day.

The biggest concern in relation to staff sickness was the adverse effect on the remaining members of staff providing cover for the absent employee.

But what of our heroic animal healer? Are they alone in the world of ridiculous excuses? From the results of the survey it would appear not:

Financial crisis – “I slipped on a coin”

When one door closes… – “I am stuck in my house because the door’s broken”

I think you put bread in it… – “I burned my hand on the toaster”

The ‘Rebecca Adlington’ – “I was swimming too fast and smacked my head on the poolside”

The ‘Ray Mears’ – “I’ve been bitten by an insect”

Fido’s progressed from homework – “The dog ate my shoes”

I told you that would happen… – “My toe is trapped in the bath tap”

Is this a phone? – “I am hallucinating”

Scaredy dog – “My dog has had a big fright and I don’t want to leave him”

How are you making this call? – “I’m in A&E as I got a clothes peg stuck on my tongue”

Always read the label – “I swallowed white spirit”

This last one is by far my favourite – it doesn’t need a quip: “I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am”.

If ever you think about saying this to your employer you should probably grab a few hours more kip on that floor.


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