The first Monday in February has been dubbed ‘National Sickie Day’ as statistically it’s the day most employees are likely to call in sick.

Following a gloomy January after the festive season and the end of ‘Dry January’ for many, there are a whole host of reasons people call in sick – some genuine, some funny and some a little bit more serious.

Last year, research from The Fine Bedding Company found that 69% of people would “love a duvet day” on the first Monday in February, with likely excuses ranging from the most popular “because of bad weather” to “not feeling very well”, having a hangover and “just needing a lie in”. More serious reasons included feeling overworked and stressed.

Absence in the workplace is an issue that costs the economy billions. Stress is the most common reason for people to be off long-term according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE report 11.3 million working days were lost to stress, depression and anxiety in 2013/14, an average of 23 days per case and the Centre for Economics and Business Research has suggested the cost of work related stress to the economy is £6.5 bn.

The CIPD’s Absence Management Report 2015 says that the average level of employee absence has increased slightly compared with 2014, from 6.6 days to 6.9 days per employee. In the public sector average incidences of sickness however are now 50 per cent higher than in the private sector. The reports highlights that stress absence was one of the top five reasons for absence in the workplace.

The CIPD’s report also suggests that whilst nearly three-quarters of organisations believe it’s possible to reduce employee absence and two-fifths have a target in place to do so, only just a quarter achieved their target in 2014.

To manage absence effectively, companies need a robust, online system that tracks and manages all kinds of absences – from sickness, through to holiday requests, flexible working, maternity and paternity leave and even dental appointments. That way, the HR department, managers and colleagues can see at a glance the whereabouts of their teams and colleagues, plan resources according and ensure the business is always adequately staffed.

Organisations with absence management systems can expect to see almost an immediate reduction in sickness absence as well of between 20 to 30 per cent, simply because there is a formal system for recording and managing it.

Whilst National Sickie Day is a bit of fun in the media it does create awareness around employee absence and hopefully encourages companies who aren’t doing so already to start managing sickness absence in better ways. Doing so can generate huge savings as well as help companies create a happy working environment where no one wants to call in sick unless they really need to.

Eliminating the need for employees to call in sick with silly excuses should be the aim for all organisations in 2016. Activ Absence has put together some of the most outrageous excuses employees have called in sick with:

The most bizarre sickie excuses

  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 slipped on a coin
  8. I’ve had a sleepless night
  9. My mum has died (this was the second time the person used this excuse)
  10. I am hallucinating
  11. I am stuck in my house because the door’s broken
  12. I burned my hand on the toaster
  13. The dog ate my shoes
  14. My fish is sick
  15. I swallowed white spirit
  16. My toe is trapped in the bath tap
  17. I’m in A&E as I got a clothes peg stuck on my tongue
  18. I drank too much and fell asleep on someone’s floor – I don’t know where I am
  19. My trousers split on the way to work
  20. I’m using a new contact lens solution and my eyes are watering
  21. I have a blocked nose
  22. I’ve had a hair dye disaster
  23. I’ve got a sore finger

By Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director, Activ Absence