Four of the Best Reasons to Call in Sick

With the unemployment rate hovering at 5 percent, "calling in sick" or taking unplanned time off has fallen out of fashion to such an extent that employees are coming to work even when they shouldn't


That's right. There are legitimate reasons to miss work…and some not so legit reasons.


Good reason #1: Contagious illness, such as the common cold or flu.

There's no better reason to stay home than legitimate sickness, especially if it's of the contagious variety. A sick employee is typically not a productive employee, and will spread germs all over the office.


Do yourself, and coworkers, a favor and chill out at home until you are feeling better.



Not so good reason: You’re hungover.

Your organization and co-workers shouldn't have to pick up the slack for your good time.


Take a shower, have a strong cup of coffee, and suck it up. And vow to make better decisions on work nights, for everyone's sake.


Good reason #2: You need a mental health day.

When you start to feel blah or burnt out, schedule a mental health day off. You will benefit from a day off to recharge your batteries and planning it in advance won't leave coworkers hanging.


If a spur-of-the moment mental health day is dire, it's okay to use sickness as an excuse. Just don’t make a habit of it. Remember to keep your reason simple, don't go into detail and choose an illness that is quickly resolved -- like a migraine or food poisoning.


Not so good reason: Opening day of a major sport.

Hailing from the state where football is life in the fall, we know this one sucks. But it's hard to justify missing work for an important sports outing, concert (even if it's your fourth-grader's band concert), or other significant celebration.


If the event is important, you should know well in advance of when it's occurring to plan for your time off.


Good reason 3: Family issues.

Many workplaces are understanding of a few family-related absences per year. Sick kids, lack of childcare, or a spouse with a sudden medical condition are all valid reasons to miss work.


Not so good reason: Beach issues, such as you would rather be on one.

And so would everyone else in the working world. But unless you’re posing for the next Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit issue, your job is not to frolic in the sand. Instead of following the call of the ocean,  get to work early, be productive, and request to cut out a little early—enjoy the extra couple hours in the surf.


Good reason 4: Loss of a family member or loved one.

This has long been one of the most acceptable reasons for calling in sick. In fact, many companies offer a bereavement leave (if you’re unsure on your policy contact the HR department).


And it should go without saying, never use this excuse if it isn't true. Calling in sick with a hangover excuse would be more acceptable.


Not so good reason: You wish you could lose your boss.

Instead of focusing on your manager's behavior, focus on your own.


Staying at home with your head under the covers won't make your work go away, it will actually prolong your misery. Instead, show up to work with your game face on and use your frustration as energy to fuel your production. Commit to checking off all your tasks ahead of schedule and really impress your boss.


Calling in sick may not always be an easy choice—and sometimes it’s the right choice.


Before picking up the phone consider your reasons carefully, and determine the positive or negative impacts of staying home for you, your co-workers, and your organization.


And if for some reason you do end up losing your job over taking too many sick days, we have a list of the top 210 job search sites for 2016. Bookmark it, just in case!

Last Updated: March 2, 2017
About the author

    Alexandra Hoeflicker

    Alex is a Tucson-raised, Austin-based brunch aficionado. She enjoys a solid cup of coffee and browsing used record stores.