Jennette Ballas and Aliza Elbert

Dilemma: I’m not gonna lie. Last night, I went out big and I was so hungover this morning I had to call into work sick. I know if I did go, I wouldn’t be able to function. So I made the call before my shift and told them that my roommate had fallen down the stairs and I was the only person able to take her to urgent care. Obviously, this wasn’t ethical, but just how bad was it to not go to work? “Alexa W.

We bet that you are soooo productive at work on a regular basis, the office would completely fall apart without you there – or will it? We know it’s hard to believe, but most workplaces really can survive in the case of an employee’s brief absence. “Presenteeism” – going to work when you’re sick – is a trend that millions of Americans fall into because of our fast-paced lifestyles. In fact, one estimate shows that more than 75 percent of people still go to work with the common cold or other problems. Isn’t that assuring to know?

Although you may think that calling in sick might reflect a poor work ethic, you also don’t want to be the employee that spreads the whooping cough to the entire accounting department down the hall. Use common sense and good judgment when faced with whether or not to call in sick. If you have a migraine, chills/sweats, fever, pinkeye or major stomach problems, we highly recommend using a “sick day.”

In addition to being sick, it is also important to keep one’s sanity. Everyone has those days where they can’t bear the thought of going into work and if they force themselves to go, they will be far less productive. Personal priorities may not always match up with those of the company you work for. Just be aware that calling in sick when you in fact are not, won’t rack up brownie points with the co-workers who will spend the day picking up your slack. To help you save face and your sanity, here are some recommendations with what to tell the boss:

I have a doctor’s appointment

I’m working from home

I have cramps – who can argue? It’s the excuse no one challenges. One important note: Don’t use this one if you’re a man. It’ll never work.

Excuses to avoid:

I have a personal emergency. This one is so vague it rarely works.

I can’t come into work today because of eye trouble – I can’t see myself working today.

There’s been a death in the family. Don’t ever use this excuse if it’s not true. Your employer will lose all trust in you. “I had an employee whose mother died – twice,” said David Wear, a Virginia PR executive. “He also had the misfortune of losing all his grandparents – 12 of them – during a two-year period.”

Don’t come back to work the next day with a suntan, pictures, stories, etc. If you share what you have done with your coworkers, they may turn on you and tell your boss. Worse, they may steal all of your good excuses!

Also, try not to call in “sick” on too many Mondays or Fridays – extended weekends tend to stick out in the minds of bosses and coworkers as well. Calling out on the occasional Tuesday is far more credible.

The Bottom Line: No matter which excuse is used, try not to lie because it always comes back around.

It’s Karma.

Aliza Elbert and Jennette Ballas are both marketing concentrations with a knack for changing the world- one ethical dilemma at a time. This article is written on behalf of SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise). For more information go to

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