An employee calls his boss to inform him that he will be absent from work due to the death of his mother. The boss is hit with a case a déjà vu, quickly remembering this is his second time hearing the excuse from this employee.

This is just one of the 25 most bizarre excuses told to bosses revealed in a study carried out by UK experts. Researchers from the Benenden Health Society analyzed situations from 1,000 employees and 1,000 bosses to decide which explanations were considered believable.

"Clearly sickness absence in the workplace, whether through genuine illness or otherwise, does have a significant impact on businesses and so it is important for employers to have a robust procedure for managing absence," said Gill Landon, HR and Developmental Director of Benenden Health.

"If an organization has an effective approach to employee health and wellbeing, this can result in healthier workers who are more productive and who will have lower levels of sickness absence. By adopting a caring approach to their employees' health and having a proper scheme in place, employers can proactively assist in reducing sickness absence in their workplace."

The results of the nationally representative study showed that six out of 10 bosses do not believe their employees who call in sick. Further analysis warranted their apprehension, considering excuses were as ridiculous as needing time off to care for an injured pet and dropping a can of beans on their toe.

For any slackers interested in the most accepted excuses, bosses were more likely to believe employees who cited nausea and vomiting, and viruses and abdominal pain as areas of sickness. Pulled muscles, fatigue, and neck or back pain, however, were excuses that caused suspicion.

"In a tough economy, managing sickness absence becomes vital for businesses, but employers are clearly suspicious about days taken off for illness - perhaps not surprising given the varied excuses presented for absence. This is not helped by the fact that for more than a fifth of the sick days taken, workers admitted they could have actually made it into work," Landon added.

"High levels of sickness absence can have a huge negative impact on businesses - both from a financial perspective and on the effect it has on staff who bear the extra workload. This is naturally causing employers to be more alert to spotting staff who are not genuinely ill, using methods such as checking their social media profiles to catch them out if they are lying or rigorously questioning the reasons they give for their absence."

"However, employers should also show caution - we can see from the findings that being stressed or overworked can result in increased numbers of sick days being taken. Employers need to play their part by ensuring that the wellbeing of staff is dealt with through an effective health and wellbeing policy in the workplace," Landon noted.

Under the government's Office of Personnel Management guidelines, sick leave entitlement is offered under four conditions: personal medical need, family care or bereavement, care of a family member with a serious condition, and adoption-related purposes. You be the judge if any of the excuses used in this study met those requirements:


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've injured myself during sex

8. I slipped on a coin

9. I've had a sleepless night

10. My mum has died (this was the second time the person used this excuse)

11. I am hallucinating

12. I am stuck in my house because the door's broken

13. My new girlfriend bit me in a delicate place

14. I burned my hand on the toaster

15. The dog ate my shoes

16. My fish is sick

17. I swallowed white spirit

18. My toe is trapped in the bath tap

19. I'm in A&E as I got a clothes peg stuck on my tongue

20. I drank too much and fell asleep on someone's floor - I don't know where I am

21. My trousers split on the way to work

22. I'm using a new contact lens solution and my eyes are watering

23. I have a blocked nose

24. I've had a hair dye disaster

25. I've got a sore finger