Top 5 most bizarre reasons for absence in 2022, as revealed by BrightHR

We’ve all heard some weird and wacky reasons for absence in our time. But in 2022, HR technology firm BrightHR had some particularly, let’s say eye-catching entries.

Here are the top five most bizarre words and phrases given as reasons for absence last year, as recorded by BrightHR’s absence management software.

• Potentially inspired by the Netflix smash hit Stranger Things, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of people booking annual leave to go ghost hunting. The word ghost featured frequently in annual leave and sickness absence requests and spookily, so did alien abduction. Whether or not that was a genuine reason for absence is still up in the air…….

• From food poisoning due to undercooked or ‘dodgy’ sausages, to people taking time off to attend Sausage and Cider Festivals, the humble banger sizzles swiftly into second place, both in terms of sickness absence and annual leave requests.

• They may have been extinct for millions of years, but that doesn’t stop dinosaurs taking third place on our list. From taking time off for museum visits to throwing dinosaur parties for little ones, it’s clear that these prehistoric creatures continue to fascinate and entertain.

• We can certainly see a lot of clown-ing around with our fourth entry. From a fear of clowns making people too scared to come in to booking time off to attend clown school, employers will clearly need a sense of humour when they hear some of the excuses people give for not attending work….

• And finally, the dog ate…’s an excuse as old as time. Who, at one time, hasn’t tried to get out of an assignment by blaming the dog? And it seems many an innocent pooch is still taking the blame long after their owners enter adult life. While some absences are certainly genuine, with people taking time off for emergency vet visits after the dog has eaten something they shouldn’t have, others are much more tenuous. It appears ‘the dog ate my bus pass’, and ‘the dog ate my timetable’ are fast becoming the adult version of ‘the dog ate my homework’.

Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR, says, “Employees are free to do whatever they want with their time off, and this certainly shows. It’s great to see life returning to normal again with people prioritising time with families and looking to pursue their hobbies.

“However, we’ve also seen some quite frankly laughable excuses for absence and the side-hustle continues to be an area to watch for many employers. As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, it’s only natural that people will look at ways to make extra money. But when the so-called side-hustle starts impacting on employees’ full-time roles then that becomes a concern.

“Unplanned absences can cost business around £522 per employee, so it’s important to make sure that all procedures are followed properly. Encourage employees to take their full allocation of annual leave and make sure that any periods of sickness absence are followed up with return-to-work meetings, ensuring that staff are healthy and fit for work as well ensuring reasons given for absence are genuine.”


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