Because 14 years of eating dirt is enough. Work Excuses : Cannot Be Bothered

Work Excuses

Intro / Why Calling in Sick is OK

Maybe it’s because I am a very suspicious person, but I rarely believe anyone when they say they were ill. Unless I can visibly see their ailment or pain they are in, I’m not convinced. We’ve all done it, whether it be exaggerating an illness or flat out lying, sick days are expected, and in my opinion to be encouraged.

When you consider how many sick days you are allowed to have over the course of the year, it is obvious that you’d have to be terribly unlucky to genuinely be taken ill that much, and I’m certain your job doesn’t give you enough holiday time, taking a few sick days as holiday just makes sense.

Now I’m not a totally awful person, my level of sick days represents the job and the people I am working for at the time, I happen to think it is an excellent form of job satisfaction feedback: Treat me like crap, and I’ll behave like crap.

I have had the misfortune to have some pretty soul-destroying jobs in my time, I spent over 2 years working in call centres. Dark days. Through this I now know that taking sick days is simply a necessity to keep you sane. As far as I was concerned, each time I was off sick I was doing them a favour by holding off the shooting that would have come about if I’d been there every working day of the year.

So what I am saying is that you are doing everyone a favour by taking the odd day off.

How to Execute a Successful Sick Day ^

Through spending years at western sweatshops I have managed to pick up a lot of useful buzz words and phrases, many of which apply here, no more so than:

Perfect Planning Prevents Pathetic Performance^

If you have the foresight to plan a day off, make sure that you start dropping hints of the excuse developing in the days or weeks leading up to the event. It may sound simple, but it is extremely effective. Nine times out of ten when someone hears that a colleague is off sick, the first thing they will say is: ‘They did say yesterday they weren’t feeling well’.

These are found under each excuse in the ‘Pre Time Off Hints’ field.

An easy, fast path to credibility.

Don’t trust anyone^

If you get a call or texts from friends at work asking where you are, don’t take the bait, tell them you are ill. Just because you are lying on the sofa watching This Morning while they are toiling away without you, there is no need to gloat. It goes without saying to never text colleagues bragging about not coming in, it is just too risky. This is akin to becoming a serial killer and leaving notes for the police, its reckless and unnecessary, just be happy with the kill(day off). One comment from them to another colleague at slightly the wrong volume could ruin all your sick-day’s hard earned believability.

Follow through^

Some people think that after the day(s) off then they are home free, that they can get back to normal and forget about the fake reason, I think that this is limited and short-sighted thinking.

A really nice tip is that if you have gone out with colleagues say you really shouldn’t drink because of the medication you are on, this can also provide an excuse to leave early or not go at all (see section on social occasions) whilst bolstering the believability of your illness.

These are found under each excuse in the ‘Post Time Off Hints’ field.

Know your rights^

Be sure to check your employer’s policies regarding absence, this could save you a lot of hassle in the future.

For instance, I discovered that I had been behaving like a fool when I found out that my performance at a call centre was marked on sickness ‘instances’ and I had always assumed an instance was a day. When I found out that an instance could be any number of days in a row I couldn’t believe my luck! Safe to say that what had previously been the odd day off, became the odd three days, with no extra ramifications!

I later found out that if we were to have too many days off sick them we would be put on a training plan, 3 of these and you can be fired. Oh dear I thought, this could be the end of the road. However, it then became apparent that after 3 months had passed the slate was wiped clean and you could start all over again!

They actually offered this information up to us; they really didn’t make it very easy to come in.

No-one Believes You^

When pulling a sickie it is important to remember that all of your colleagues and bosses will automatically jump to the same conclusion that you are lying. With this in mind it can really take away some of the strain of coming up with an excuse.

I remember when I was working at a call centre I would spend hours agonising over an incredible excuse I was concocting. I was a details man; I would drop comments to my boss through the previous week to help make the excuse a little more believable.

First the phones call on the day, if I was ill I would lie down on my bed before dialling (a classic manoeuvre to make you sound weary. I always steered clear from using the sickly voice however, I feel like that has been overused now, it has become a joke. Instead I would actually attempt to sound upbeat, it was my assertion that the operator would be expecting the usual ’sick’ voice and by sounding normal it would instantly catch them off guard and provide a nifty double bluff to make them think I must have been really sick.

I will always remember the first time I phoned up, I was greeted with ‘are you calling about lateness or sickness?’, to which I would respond with ’sickness’ or ‘neither’(if I was feeling particularly sassy and had come up with a cracking non illness related excuse). At this stage I was be getting amped up to deliver my flawless monologue that I had rehearsed when they would say ‘how long will you be off for?’ to which I would usually say: ‘hopefully just today’ and they would say ‘o.k. We’ll let your line manager know, goodbye’. That was it; no excuse needed, no tests, nothing. On one hand I was happy that they would let me off so easily, but on the other I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to showcase my acting skills by delivering a scintillating excuse.

It was in the ‘Back-to-work’ interview that you would need to showcase the acting abilities, where you would have to sit down with my team leader and explain the cause for your absence. It was in one of these that a friend of mine once delivered a breathtaking excuse; a convoluted and frankly bizarre story about a friend falling and hurting her wrist and him having to take her to the hospital with many twists and false endings. It was a ridiculous excuse, but so absurd that I think it was actually pretty believable. After he’d delivered his brilliant finish the team leader just looked at him and said: ‘I’ll just put down headache shall I?’

The point I am trying to make with this example is that when pulling a sickie it is important to remember that all of your colleagues and bosses will automatically jump to the same conclusion; that you are lying. With this in mind it can really take away some of the strain of coming up with an excuse, just take relax, and give it your best shot.

Disclaimer about following excuses^

The following excuses have been compiled by someone with medium level intelligence and no medical knowledge. These would probably not fool a nurse but thankfully the middle managers you will have to deal with to execute your time off don’t have an ounce of a nurse’s intelligence. Hopefully these will provide enough little bits of info and symptoms to make you seem believable and stop them giving you too hard of a time.

Please contribute any excuses you have had any success with, or let me know if there are any glaring errors in the below excuses.

Sick Day Excuse List^


Diarrhoea: ^

Summary: “In most cases, diarrhoea eases and goes within several days, but sometimes takes longer. The main risk is dehydration. The main treatment is to have lots to drink to avoid dehydration. You should also eat as normally as possible. See a doctor if you suspect that you are dehydrating, or if you have any worrying symptoms such as those which are listed below.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms):
  • Stomach Pains
  • Cannot stop going to the toilet.
  • Vomiting.
  • Head-ache.
What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’:
  • Repeat symptoms.

Treated with:

  • Lots to drink
  • Ate several small meals.
  • Anti-Diarrhoea Pills
Pre Time Off Hints: Not much you can do – sudden onset. Post Time Off Hints: Lots of toilet breaks, Drink a lot of water.
Props: Lots of water/Diarrhoea pills
Time span: 1 day to 2 weeks (Over 7 days requires Dr note) Reusable Excuse? Could be caused  by Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Haemorrhoids (Piles):^

Summary: “Haemorrhoids (piles) are swellings that develop from the lining of the anus and lower rectum (back passage). Symptoms range from temporary and mild, to persistent and painful. In many cases, haemorrhoids are small and symptoms settle down without treatment. If required, treatment is usually effective.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): You have an onset of piles – extreme pain visiting the toilet, cannot sit down. What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Constipation in the lead up – often sets it off.

Treated with: Dietary – lots of fibre & fluids.

Cream/ Ointment

Pre Time Off Hints: You could be constipated in the lead up but not necessary. – Otherwise sudden. Post Time Off Hints: Uncomfortable sitting down.

Lots of fluids

Props: Lots of water.
Time span: 1 week – more would require Dr treatment. Reusable Excuse? Yes. Can be caused by Irritable Bowl Syndrome.

Ear ache/ Infection:^

Summary: “Ear infection is common in children, but can occur at any age. The main symptoms are earache and feeling unwell. Painkillers are the main treatment. Antibiotics are not usually needed but are prescribed in some cases. The infection usually clears within a few days. Earache is a common symptom of ear infection. However, not all earaches are caused by an ear infection. If a child has earache but is otherwise well, an ear infection is unlikely. A common cause of mild earache is a build up mucus in the middle ear after a cold.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): Call on speakerphone.

Feeling dizzy / nausea.


What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Repeat symptoms.

Treated with: Painkillers

A lot of sleep

Pre Time Off Hints: Ear ache can be caused as by a cold, good excuse to use after a mild cold at work. Post Time Off Hints: Use phone on left ear, or say you cannot use the phone for a couple of days.
Props: Painkillers
Time span: 1 – 3 days. Reusable Excuse? You can say it is caused occasionally by a build up of ear wax pressing on your ear drum – rare though. Can be used regularly if your job requires heavy phone use.

Food Poisoning:^

Summary: “Food poisoning occurs when food or water contaminated with harmful microbes (germs), toxins or chemicals is eaten or drunk. It usually causes diarrhoea, with or without vomiting. However, other symptoms or problems can be caused by eating contaminated food. In most cases, symptoms clear away over several days, but sometimes it takes longer. The main risk is dehydration. The main treatment is to have lots to drink to try to avoid dehydration. Sometimes antibiotics or other treatments may be needed.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): Stomach cramps.

Keep being sick

Cannot keep any food/drink down.

High temperature.

What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Repeat symptoms.

Treated with: Lots of water.

Could say that you think it could be the fish you ate the night before.

Pre Time Off Hints: Nothing, sudden onset. Post Time Off Hints: Not much, should have all cleared up
Props: Lots of water
Time span: 1 -2 Days Reusable Excuse? Risky as you’d have to be pretty unlucky, possible though,

Tooth ache:^

Summary: “A toothache, also known asodontalgia or, less frequently, as odontalgy, is an aching pain in or around a tooth. In most cases toothaches are caused by problems in the tooth or jaw, such as cavities, gum disease, the emergence of wisdom teeth, a marginally cracked tooth, infected dental pulp (necessitating root canal treatment or extraction of the tooth), jaw disease, or exposed tooth root.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): Extreme pain in tooth/gum area.

Could not get any sleep last night.

What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Repeat symptoms.

Treated with: Called NHS Direct and took a rotation of Ibuprofen and Parecetamol.

Have booked a dentist appointment to see what the issue is.

Pre Time Off Hints: Complain about the pain, take painkillers in the run-up. Post Time Off Hints: Mention booking a dentists appointment – painkillers.
Props: Painkillers – Bonjela.
Time span: 1 – 3 days. Reusable Excuse? Can lead to needing dentist appointments etc. Can escalate.

Back Problems:^

Summary: “About 8 in 10 people have one or more bouts of low back pain. In most cases, it is not due to a serious disease or serious back problem, and the exact cause of the pain is not clear. This is called non-specific lower back pain.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): You pulled something whilst reorganising your room.

Or you have a reoccurring back problem and its flared up.

What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Repeat symptoms.

Treated with: Called NHS Direct and took a rotation of Ibuprofen and Parecetamol.

Have booked a dentist appointment to see what the issue is.

If it is a reoccurring thing say you have an appointment with the Dr.

Pre Time Off Hints: Nothing to say if it was of an onset of heavy lifting. If reoccurring problem you could complain of back pain. Post Time Off Hints: Could ask for a back support for the chair. – Say you cannot lift anything heavy – take painkillers
Props: Painkillers
Time span: 1 day to a week. Reusable Excuse? If back pain is not treated and can come back easily. If it is an ongoing illness you can use it whenever.

Insomnia :^

Summary: “Insomnia is a symptom which can accompany several sleep, medical and psychiatric disorders, characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep and/or difficulty staying asleep. Insomnia is typically followed by functional impairment while awake.”

“Transient insomnia lasts for less than a week. It can be caused by another disorder, by changes in the sleep environment, by the timing of sleep, severe depression, or by stress.”

What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): You were unable to get any sleep that night

Bad headache.

What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Repeat symptoms.

Treated with: pain killers

Considering getting some sleeping pills if problem persists.

It has been diagnosed in the past as ‘Transient insomnia’

After getting over the insomnia can say your sleeping pattern was all off – took a day to fix.

Pre Time Off Hints: Not much, can act stressed. Post Time Off Hints: If you really want to convince you can purposefully not get much sleep the night before returning to work.
Props: No
Time span: 1 Day – several weeks (Over 7 days needs Dr note) Reusable Excuse? Yes. Insomnia can be triggered at any point by stress, depression etc.


Summary: “Migraine causes attacks of headaches, often with feeling sick or vomiting. Treatment options include: avoiding possible ‘triggers’, painkillers, anti-inflammatory painkillers, anti-sickness medicines, and triptan medicines. A medicine to prevent migraine attacks is an option if the attacks are frequent or severe.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): Chances are you will know the symptoms and can identify symptoms as migraine over the phone. What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: You took painkillers and tried to get some sleep – lay in the dark.
Pre Time Off Hints: No, sudden onset. Post Time Off Hints: No. Should have fully recovered.
Props: Painkillers
Time span: 4 Hrs to 3 days Reusable Excuse? Yes. Migraines can be triggered at anytime.


Summary: “It is a worldwide condition that can affect any age group with no gender, ethnic or social preponderance. Although it is generally a reasonably trivial problem, it can have a considerable impact on lost work time”.
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): Red eyes.


Watering of the eyes.

Discharge around eyelids.

What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Could say it was infectious so you had to stay at home.
Pre Time Off Hints: Can be caused by cold, excuse could be used post cold. Post Time Off Hints: None. Should have cleared up before returning.
Props: No.
Time span: 2 – 5 days Reusable Excuse? Not really, usually caused by infection.

Panic Attack:^

Summary: “Panic attack has been described as an episode of incredibly intense fear or apprehension that is of sudden onset… If you have an occasional panic attack, no treatment other than explanation and reassurance is usually needed.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): Heart palpatations/Chest pains.

Hot flush

Short of breath

Pins and needles


What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Can say it runs in the family.

Reocurring problem

Happens when you get really stressed

Can offer up vague reference to something bothering you in your personal life.

Pre Time Off Hints: None. Post Time Off Hints: No
Props: no
Time span: 1 day. Reusable Excuse? Yes. Can happen anytime as are triggered by mental health problems.

Flu-like Illness:^

Summary: “Various viruses can cause a flu-like illness. There is usually a seasonal outbreak of influenza (flu) in the UK each winter…Flu-like illnesses typically cause a high temperature, aches and pains in muscles and joints, a cough, and various other symptoms.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): Temperature / Fever

Aches and pains in muscles & joints

Sore throat, cough


Feel sick

Bed ridden

Can say you think it is probably flu

What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Repeat symptoms.

Treated with: Lemsip, a lot of time in bed.

Pre Time Off Hints: Could use standard cold as the beginnings of flu. Post Time Off Hints: Difficult one to sell as it is hard to take cold and flu symptoms. Better to say you are all better.
Props: Cold medication
Time span: 3 days – 2 weeks (Dr note required over 7 days) Reusable Excuse? Happens randomly.

Sprain/Twisted Ankle:^

Summary: “A sprain is an injury to a ligament. ‘PRICE’ (Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) and avoiding HARM (Heat, Alcohol, Running, and Massage) is commonly advised for the first 48-72 hours after a sprained ankle. Painkillers may be needed. Most sprains heal within a few weeks.”
What to Say on The Phone (Symptoms): If you play any sports they are aware of, say you strained your ankle whilst doing this, or make one up. What to Say in your ‘Back to work interview’: Repeat symptoms

Treated with: Lots of rest

Kept ankle elevated and iced.

Pre Time Off Hints: Could mention the day before that you were playing the sport that evening. Post Time Off Hints: Difficult one, will need to maintain a fake limp for a while.
Props: Painkillers, could wear a tubigrip.
Time span: 2 – 3 days Reusable Excuse? No, will seem unlikely, only re-use at a push.

Non illness:^

Flat problems^

eg boiler breaks down – leaking roof – vandalism



Witnessed a crime^


Been burgled^


Broke key in door^


Cannot find shoes^


Wardrobe Malfunction^


Stuck in Traffic^


Bike Puncture^


Train delay^


Go home early^

Allergic Reaction to sting:^

Hay fever^