WASHINGTON - A botched hair-dye job; a bad breakup; and yes, actually being sick.
These are some of the reasons employees call in sick, according to a survey by job search site CareerBuilder.com.
Some explanations for an unplanned day off actually are truthful.
Then there are the outright lies.
Nearly a third of workers reported making false ailments in order to play hooky during the past year, according to the survey of 3,976 employees.
Nearly one in six ditched work "to catch up on sleep." Other reasons included going to a job interview, attending a child's event or not being able to get a babysitter.
CareerBuilder also surveyed 2,494 hiring managers and human resource professionals. Among the most memorable excuses:
- Employee was upset after watching The Hunger Games.
- Employee's dead grandmother was being exhumed for a police investigation.
- Employee's hair turned orange from dying her hair at home.
Some outrageous tales stem from a worker's desire to convince a tough boss that the need for time off is crucial, "so they come up with something very imaginative," says Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder vice president for human resources.
Other times, workers stretch a truthful situation to make it work for them, she says. For instance, an employee may have a funeral to attend but claims it's during work hours to get extra time off.
Often, workers think of sick days as a fleeting benefit.
"They think, 'I've got to use it or lose it,' " Haefner says.
So they take off to do holiday shopping -- December is the most popular month for sick days, according to the survey -- or to enjoy a mental health day at home.
Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits at the Society for Human Resource Management, has heard a slew of dubious excuses during his 20-year career in HR, such as workers calling in sick during the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament.
He understands that a broken heart or sick pet can affect a person's mental state. He also says most colleagues understand when a mental health day is badly needed. Still, he says, "if someone is employing you, you do have a responsibility to show up and be productive."
Fakers who raise a red flag by returning from a sick day with a tan -- or who are tagged in a Facebook photo of a weekday golf outing -- should have concerns. Not only can sick day abuse alienate managers and co-workers who are left to handle the workload, it can also lead to unemployment.
Nearly 30% of employers have checked up on a worker to verify that the sick time was warranted, usually by requiring a doctor's note or phoning the workers at home. And 17% have fired an employee for giving a phony excuse.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )