96% of Employees Have Lied to Get Out of Work

96% of Employees Have Lied to Get Out of Work

More than 8 in 10 have feigned sickness at least once
A man texting

Honesty may be a virtue, but most workers appear to be willing to stretch the truth if it’ll land them time off.

Nearly all Americans (96%) have lied to their employer to get out of work, according to new research by career website Zety.

Respondents have used seven excuses on average at various times, suggesting that dishonesty in the workplace may be more common than one thinks.

Most employees have faked illness to skip work

More than 8 in 10 employees (84%) said they’ve told their employers they felt sick when they really didn’t, to get out of a workday. That lie was followed by:

  • Family emergencies (65%)
  • Personal issues (60%)
  • Doctor or dentist appointments (60%)
  • Car breakdowns (48%)

Nearly 4 in 10 respondents (39%) said they’ve lied about having a contagious disease, an untruth that takes on greater significance in the age of COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, workers have expressed a reluctance to return to the office because of fears of being exposed to the coronavirus.

Some employees have untruthfully cited their need to leave work to take care of or meet others:

  • 37% said their kids were sick
  • 32% said they needed to pick up their kids
  • 29% said they had to be home because a repair professional or important delivery was coming

Nearly a third of respondents (31%) even lied about a relative dying to avoid work.

Some employees may feel compelled to lie because they believe employers are asking too much of them. An earlier survey found that nearly half of adults would lie about having access to technology to avoid checking in at work while they’re on vacation.

Younger workers more likely to lie again

While 59% of respondents said they wouldn’t lie again to get out of work, more than half of Generation Z workers (56%) said they would. To compare, 46% of millennials, 37% of Generation X workers and 27% of baby boomers said they’d tell a fib in the future to take a day off.

Most respondents (91%) said they have never been caught when telling a lie to get out of work. However, men were more likely to be caught than women, with 12% of men failing to get away with the lie, compared with 8% of women. Also, only 6% of Gen Xers and baby boomers have been caught in a lie, compared with 12% of millennials and Gen Z workers.

Of those who got caught, 70% regretted telling the lie in the first place. However, only 27% of respondents who lied said they regretted making up the false excuse to get out of work, suggesting that most workers have no shame about stretching the truth if nobody's the wiser.

Methodology: Zety surveyed 1,034 adults. The generational breakdown among survey respondents was as follows: Generation Z consisted of respondents 24 or younger; millennials consisted of respondents ages 25 to 38; Generation X consisted of respondents ages 39 to 58; and baby boomers consisted of respondents 59 or older.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.