Your Co-Workers Are Watching. Are You Faking It to Take a Sick Day?

Your Co-Workers Are Watching. Are You Faking It to Take a Sick Day?
Image credit: Claus Rebler | Flickr

Delta Airlines recently said goodbye to its longest serving pilot, Captain "Cal" Flanigan, who retired after 45 years on the job. He never missed a day of work. 

Imagine never taking a day off. Many of us have faked illness for a sick day. You might have something to do or just need a break from the office. While an employer may be fine with your sick day, it turns out co-workers are the first ones to raise an eyebrow when a fellow employee calls in sick.

According to a new survey of 1,000 people conducted by ColdEEZE, a whopping 80 percent of Americans admit that sometimes they don’t think their co-workers are telling the truth when they call in sick, and 7 percent think co-workers are always lying. Forty three percent say a co-worker has confessed to them about faking sickness. 

More than half of those surveyed -- 57 percent -- admitted to calling in sick when they weren’t sick. Four percent confess to doing it “often.”

Related: 5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Sick Days

One respondent admitted, “Five days a week I was a bookkeeper, and five nights a week I bartendered. I was extremely tired after a few weeks. So I called my day job and told them I had the flu, and I told the night job the same thing.”

So why would your co-workers care about whether you're faking or are actually sick? Well, in some cases your co-workers may have to pull some of the slack when you are not in the office -- and nobody wants to do extra work.

Now, if you decide to fake sickness and use any of your sick days, make sure you plan it just right since the survey reveals that there are big red flags when it comes to fake sicknesses. Common excuses include calling in sick on a Friday, Monday or the day after a holiday. The next flag is not sounding sick enough. If you call in sick, make sure you sound the part -- no chirpy hellos when you answer your phone. Make sure to start sneezing, wheezing and blowing your nose, and you definitely shouldn't appear fine the days before, so the sudden sickness is believable. Repeatedly calling in sick is a dead giveaway.

Three is the magic number when it comes to faking sickness. Respondents said they fake sickness on average three times per year, and although 92 percent say they have never been caught, it’s that 8 percent that, unfortunately, had to take the heat.

With cold and flu season right around the corner, there is a good chance you are going to get sick. 

“It’s clear that people call in sick for a variety of reasons, some less honest, but everyone will catch a cold at some point and legitimately need the time off," said Ted Karkus, CEO for ProPhase Labs, the manufacturer of Cold-EEZE. "Don’t squander your sick days crying wolf.”

If you are one of those people who don't get sick and want to take a day off because you need a break or have plans, know your co-workers are watching. Obviously, no posting on social media.

Eighteen percent surveyed were bold enough to confront a co-worker or employee when they became suspicious. Seven percent say they’ve tried to find proof, mostly by scouring social-media accounts or calling the worker at home.

One annoyed co-worker needed to say her piece: “I told her that she knew it was a very busy time, and I was stuck doing all of her work for an entire week when she pretended to have food poisoning, and she was posting pictures on Facebook partying with friends.”

Related: Sick at Work? You're Not the Only One.

Here are the top “fake” sicknesses/excuses:

1. I just don’t feel well

2. Stomach digestive problems

3. Migraine headache

4. Sore throat/laryngitis

5. “Issue” with the house/apartment

6. Claim to be sick themselves but really have to care for a sick family member

7. Food poisoning

8. Menstrual cramps

9. Dental issue/toothache

10. Injury, such as a sprained ankle

Here are the top “sick day” activities:

1. Relax/take a “mental health” day

2. Sleep

3. Watch TV

4. Take care of a loved one

5. Spend quality time with a spouse/children

6. Hang out with friends

7. Go shopping

8. Do work for another job

9. Go to the movies

10. Go to the gym

Related: How I Haven't Taken a 'Sick Day' in 5 Year