How likely are Americans to fake a sick day?

We’ve probably all contemplated phoning in sick with a made-up illness to take a personal day, but how many Americans have actually followed through – and what are their reasons for doing so? We decided to find out!
We surveyed 1,000 Americans across all industries and states, to determine how many people have called in sick with a fake illness, and the reasons why.

How many people fake illness for a day off work?

According to our findings, we can reveal that an incredible 50% of Americans have admitted to faking a sick day from work. This is evenly split between men and women, with half of each claiming they’ve called in with a pretend illness.

Interestingly, though, 12.40% of Americans aren’t permitted any holiday at all , and perhaps instead feel forced to lie about their health to take a day off, while less than a third (31.50%) are entitled to 0-9 days.
By age group, 25-34-year-olds are most likely to take an impromptu sick day (53%), followed by those in the 45-54 (51%) and 18-24 brackets (50%). Meanwhile, 55-64-year-olds (40%) and those 65+ (45%) are least likely to fake illness for a day off work.

Intriguingly, when we break down the data by seniority level, it’s actually owners and CEOs who are most likely to take an unneeded sick day, with almost two thirds (64%) admitting to having done so in their current role. Who’d have thought the boss would need to lie?

Following the trend, President- and Vice President-level employees are second likeliest (60%), while entry level (48%) and non-management level staff (48%) are least inclined to fake a sick day. Curiously, though senior management (49%) are slightly less likely than middle management (50%) to feign illness.

By state, 100% of participants from Montana, Vermont, and Wyoming admitted to skipping work due to a fake illness, followed by North Dakota (75%), New Jersey (69%), and New Mexico (67%).
Meanwhile, the worst sector for fake sick days is charity and volunteer work (74%), ahead of property and construction (63%), social care (62%), science and pharmaceuticals (60%), law (57%) and law enforcement (57%), and business management (57%).

sick days stat

Why do Americans fake sick days?

We now know what proportion of people have faked illness to claim a sick day, but what are the main reasons Americans choose to skip work?

Well, we can reveal that the most popular reason that people fake illness when they should be at work is to attend family events or occasions, whether that be a wedding, christening, or party. In fact, 29% of Americans revealed they’ve used this excuse before, with 18-24-year-olds (33%) most likely!
Ranked as one of the most common reason, we have appointments of all kinds, whether they be at the salon, the dentist, or even an interview for another job. While 23% of Americans overall have used this excuse, women (29%) are much likelier than men (17%) to skip work to attend an appointment.

Finally, 12% of Americans have called in sick with a made-up illness to go on holiday, with 18-24-year-olds (17%) the biggest culprits. Meanwhile, men (14%) are marginally more inclined to skip work for a trip away than women (9.3%).
While almost half of Americans claim to take fewer sick days in the hybrid working era than pre-pandemic (47.90%), it’s interesting to see how many continue to fake illness, and their reasons why. For even more expert insight like this, head on over to our blog.

sick days hybrid