Please excuse my absence: 5 outrageous reasons for taking a day off


We’ve all had one of those mornings. The kind when we wake up and, while we’re not absolutely, technically, certifiably sick, we could definitely do with staying in bed and catching up on some ‘me time’. Most of us will indulge in a snooze button hit or two, but some will go so far as to fake illness or invent an elaborate excuse for not going into the office. Need to fake a doctor’s note? There’s even an app for that! And the rule seems to be: The more incredible the better.

For beleaguered business owners and HR managers, keeping on top of employee absence and sick leave is a hard enough job in itself without having to be a human lie-detector too. It’s impossible to be sure who’s pulling a fast one and who’s being honest. Especially when, the truth is stranger than fiction as outrageous circumstances conspire against well-meaning workers to keep them from their desks.

We’ve scoured the internet and compiled a list of the top 5 real-life reasons given for missing a day of work. Read on and enjoy, and next time you’re tempted to pull a sickie, spare a thought for these hapless employees and the HR headaches they created.

1. “My dog’s having a nervous breakdown”

Now, we understand that pets are an important part of many people’s lives, and that owners often boast close psychic ties with their four-legged friends, but this employee took it to an extreme. While we don’t doubt the dog in question may be suffering, it seems to us that the owner could do with a once-over too, so it’s probably best they make a visit to the vet (followed by the doctor).

2. “I forgot I had been hired”

Forgetting your new email password, we can understand. Maybe even your colleagues’ names. But forgetting you got the job? This doesn’t bode well as a sign of the employee’s dedication to the new role, let alone their mental faculties. It’s probably best for all concerned if this false-start new-starter calls it quits, their zero per cent attendance record intact.

3. “My dead grandmother is being exhumed for a police investigation”

We’ve all heard the one about having to go to your grandmother’s funeral – that favourite of schoolday scivers (I knew a boy who, remarkably, had lost ten grandparents before reaching high school). This excuse adds a new twist to the tale, with plenty of intrigue for good measure.

4. “I can’t get to work because my 12-year-old daughter stole my car”

This excuse has all the hallmarks of high drama: family discord, crime, split loyalties and a challenge to overcome. Left without transport, the victim of the crime understandably wanted to keep the police out of it. However, the story does fall a little short in the drama stakes. Our hero did not overcome adversity, remaining carless at curtains. We’re left guessing about loose ends, like whatever happened to the vehicle and the young GTA enthusiast? If any employers find themselves on the receiving end of a similar absence note, we recommend steering clear: best to avoid any risk of being implicated as an accessory or co-conspirator.

5. “I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am”

While I must make clear that at we don’t condone such Bacchanalian excesses, we do doff our HR caps to this employee for his honesty. It sounds like a post-Christmas party hangover that no amount of morning coffee could shift. The question is, did he make it back home before or after his P45 landed on the doorstep?

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Image thanks to Feelart from