The first Monday in February is traditionally the day on which the greatest number of employees "pull a sickie" and take the day off work.

The day is nicknamed National Sickie Day, and it is estimated that just under 215,000 people will skive off work today after a weekend of drinking post Dry January, according to the Daily Telegraph.

It is also claimed that many employees shirk work at the start of February because they are attending a job interview.

Employees considering taking the day off work, however, should be careful about the excuse they give their boss.


Previous research has found that just one in five bosses consider a headache or migraine serious enough to warrant a day off, while back pain, an injury caused by accident and even elective surgery, such as a cataract operation or hip replacement, also fail to arouse sympathy out of managers, with only 37 per cent considering these ailments adequate excuses for missing work.

According to medical insurance provider Axa PPP Healthcare, which surveyed 1,000 business owners, managing directors and chief executives about their attitudes towards employees' sick leave, the flu is the most acceptable ailment for staff to stay at home – even though it won sympathy from just 41 per cent of bosses.

A poll of Telegraph readers concurred, with the majority of respondents (37 per cent) saying that flu was the most justified reason for sick leave, while only 5 per cent said the common cold was a good enough excuse to say home.

Mental illnesses, such as stress, depression and anxiety, were not viewed more or less kindly by managers, the survey found, and employees are significantly more likely to lie about non-physical health.

A poll of 1,000 non-executive employees found that 7 per cent would tell their boss a lie if they had to miss work for a physical ailment such as back pain, flu or accidental injury.

However, they were almost six times more likely to lie if they called in sick due to stress, anxiety or depression, with 40 per cent saying they would not tell their manager the truth.

Read more: Employers' union says Monday sickie could get you sacked

Employment law experts ELAS also published its annual list of worst excuses given by employees for absence in 2017, which range from "I have to move house today and only found out last night" to "there's a mouse in my kitchen, I'm terrified of it and have to find a way to get it out".


Enrique Garcia at ELAS Group, said: "We've heard some outrageous excuses for absence over the years and, once again, 2017 didn't disappoint. As incredulous as some of these excuses sound, they are all real calls that were taken by our ELAS consultants in the last year.

"It is acceptable to challenge employees on their reasons for or levels of absence, especially if you identify a pattern that may lead you to believe these absences are not caused by genuine sickness."

ELAS said there was a new trend for increased absence on Mondays throughout the year, with January, November and December the months employers should watch out for. The absence rate on Mondays remains almost double that of Fridays (23.5 per cent compared to 13.2 per cent), based on a survey of 9,700 employees at 81 companies across the UK.

April is the month with the fewest number of absences, the firm said.

Most acceptable reasons for calling in sick in 2017:

1. Flu
2. Back pain
3. Injury caused by accident
4. Stress
5. Elective surgery
6. Depression
7. Anxiety
8. Common cold
9. Migraine

Worst excuses for calling in sick in 2017:

1. I have to move house today and only found out last night
2. I've broken my fingernail and my finger is sore
3. My daughter has booked for me to go to the Emmerdale set today as a Christmas gift
4. There's a mouse in my kitchen, I'm terrified of it and have to find a way to get it out
5. I fell off a stepladder while getting boxes out of the loft and injured my arm. I could have broken the fall but didn't want to damage the Christmas decorations
6. I'm unable to come to work today as the sun is making me feel sick
7. My dog has heatstroke
8. I've got indigestion
9. I'm too sunburnt
10. I went to a wedding over the weekend and am still too hung-over