The top excuses to ‘pull a sickie’ in South Africa

A new survey by Pharma Dynamics has found that almost 40% of South Africans said they’re planning on “pulling a sickie” over the course of June or July.

The study which surveyed more than 1,500 working South Africans across the country, found that a combination of miserable weather and the spate of colds and flu to be expected in winter most likely makes June and July the most popular months of the year to take a duvet day.

“Nearly a third of those polled admitted that they’ve pulled a sickie before – 45% of whom said they do so two to three times a year, while a few chancers (15% in fact) do so even more often,” said Pharma Dynamics’ Nicole Jennings.

“The 40% whose conscience probably gets the better of them, can only bring themselves to do so once annually”.

“What makes matters even worse is that they don’t do so on their own… More than a whopping 51% rope in their partners and/or children to take a duvet day with them – 20% either didn’t have a partner or a child, which implied that if they did, they’d probably get them to bunk with them too.”

“The remaining 29% preferred to do so solo,” said Jennings.

Top excuses for calling in sick include:

  • Coming down with a cold or flu, stomach bug or migraine (78%)
  • Personal reasons (27%)
  • Home emergencies, such as a burst geyser, alarm problems etc (19%)
  • Stress and/or burn-out was tied with having to look after a sick relative or partner (15%)
  • Transport difficulties – bus, train, taxi running late or car trouble (8%)
  • Overslept (7%)
  • Making an appointment weeks ago that you forgot to inform the office about and can’t cancel at the last minute (5%)
  • Hangover (4%)
  • Broken out in a rash (1%)

Because of the commonality of these excuses it may be possible to spot a growing trend, noted Jennings.

In such cases employers are perfectly within their right to challenge the authenticity of an excuse by requesting a doctor’s note or ask for evidence if they start to notice a pattern of absenteeism, which should keep the habit in check.

However, the report also notes that gone are the days when sick employees had to phone the boss or office manager directly to offer an explanation.

These days the most popular way to call in sick by far is SMSing or sending a WhatsApp (62%). Less than a third (30%) still does so telephonically (probably as a result of strict company policy) and 7% informs work of their absenteeism via email.


Read: Why abusing your sick leave is a terrible idea – and what you should do instead

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The top excuses to ‘pull a sickie’ in South Africa