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Written by Rolf BaxRolf Bax

Revealed: Sarah and James most likely to pull a sickie!

10 min read
Revealed: Sarah and James most likely to pull a sickie!
Artwork by:Katya Simacheva
In order to determine which names are most likely to “pull a sickie”, Resume.io quizzed 60,000 male and female workers in the UK and asked them if they have ever lied to their bosses to avoid going to work. We also asked them the reasons why, and their go-to excuses.

Research has revealed that 40% of Brits have faked a “sick day”, costing businesses a staggering £5.6bn a year. The trend in employees taking unwarranted days off work has raised concerns for many employers, as the average sickness absence can cost them £107.85 per day.

What’s the best way to pull a sickie?

Not that we encourage this behavior, but maybe you really need a day off. There are good ways and bad ways to go about this. You may be surprised to know that your best bet is to extend your weekend. Call your boss directly on a Monday morning. Not too early, but before work officially begins. You’re least likely to create suspicion if you do it in February. After all, who hasn’t gotten a cold in that dreary, cold month?

Below, we list the most common excuses people use to pull a sickie, but you may also want to try the “no daycare” excuse (if you have children, of course).

Expert tip

Here are answers to some of your other pressing questions:

Can I get sacked for pulling a sickie?

Yes, of course. You’re lying and ditching your job for a day, but if you don’t do it often and you make it believable, the chances of losing your job are slim.

Is it OK to pull a sickie?

Let your conscience be your guide. Don’t call out on a day when your team needs you to finish a big project or when three people are on vacation. Use your head!

What do you say when you call in sick?

As little as possible. Have a reason planned ahead of time in case you are asked. Otherwise, mum’s the word. A simple, "I'm under the weather," may work just fine.

What’s a good excuse for pulling a sickie?

These days any hint of COVID symptoms should do, but be prepared to get a test if you go that route. Food poisoning is good because it lasts about 24 hours. Family or house emergencies also work, but be careful that you can maintain the charade after you go back to the office.

Who pulls a sickie and why?

Interested in finding out the biggest culprits behind pulling a sickie, Resume.io surveyed 60,000 male and female workers in the UK and asked them if they have lied to their bosses about being ill, in order to determine which names are most likely to pull sickies. We also quizzed them on the most common reasons for lying, their go-to excuses, and how often people ‘play hooky’ each year.

Males most likely to pull a sickie 

Our research can reveal that if your first name is James, you are most likely to pull a sickie! Our survey found that a staggering 1,498 James’ admitted to lying to their boss at least once to get out of going to work. Interestingly, the most common excuse to get out of work for the majority of Brits with this name is having food poisoning.

In second place is Steven, with 1,393 coming clean about their white lies when quizzed by our team, citing a bad headache as their go-to excuse. Following closely behind Steven is David, with 1,388 respondents admitting their dishonesty for calling in “sick”, confessing their tried-and-tested excuse is vomiting.

Placing fourth, fifth and sixth are people with the name Peter, Thomas, and John. These three names had more than one thousand workers confessing to telling a porky pie to their boss to get out of going to work, with 1,287, 1,251 and 1,105, respectively. We can reveal that further names prone to pulling a sickie are Mark (986), Robert (813), Craig (764), and Daniel (658).

James 1,498
Steven 1,393
David 1,388
Peter 1,287
Thomas 1,251
John 1,105
Mark 986
Robert 813
Craig 764
Daniel 658

Females most likely to pull a sickie 

Employers of Sarah, beware! Our research uncovered that if your first name is Sarah, you are most likely to fake an illness in order to get out of work. In fact, a whopping 1,327 Brits with this name have admitted pulling a sickie, and their preferred excuse is that they are too unwell to attend work due to having diarrhea.

In second place is those with the name Claire, with 1,293 confessing they have lied to their employer about having food poisoning the most! In third place are workers with the name Laura, with 1,234 admitting they have told a white lie at least once to get out of going into the office, with the most popular excuse being having a migraine.

Fourth, fifth and sixth spot go to Amanda, Rebecca, and Amy, with 1,207, 978 and 912 respondents, respectively, confessing to being untruthful to their employer. Other names partial to pulling a sickie include Jessica (898), Victoria (855), Hailey (713), and Emma (561).

Sarah 1,327
Claire 1,293
Laura 1,234
Amanda 1,207
Rebecca 978
Amy 912
Jessica 898
Victoria 855
Hailey 713
Emma 561

The most common reasons for pulling a sickie

Topping the list as the most common reason for pulling a sickie is due to poor mental health, with an overwhelming 9 in 10 Brits admitting faking a sick day for this reason. Despite work being done to break the stigma surrounding mental health, there’s still a long way to go as the vast majority of employees are still unwilling to tell their boss if they are struggling.

The second most common reason for pulling a sickie was to attend a party, concert, or festival, with 87% calling in with an excuse rather than simply using one of their holiday days. In fact, we found that over half of Brits (56%) have called in sick to avoid using their holiday entitlement!

Our research found that almost 70% of respondents choose to pull a sickie to stay at home and do nothing, suggesting a connection with being overwhelmed at work. A quarter of workers we surveyed admitted to wanting to stay at home due to doing something wrong and avoiding a telling off from the boss (27%), and a further 58% have done so to avoid their commute!

Poor Mental Health 91%
To attend a party / concert / festival 87%
To go to a job interview 74%
To stay at home 68%
Feeling hungover 61%
Avoid commuting to work 58%
Running out of holiday days 56%
Just a headache  44%
Have done something wrong at work and wanted to avoid a telling off 27%

The most common excuses used when pulling a sickie

Most workers 'playing hooky' will stick to normal excuses such as having the flu or a bad headache to take time off work, but what is the most common reason for pulling a sickie?

We found that food poisoning was the most popular lie to tell employers, with 1 in 4 workers using this as their go-to excuse – and getting away with it! The second most popular excuse is vomiting, with 2 in 10 opting for this reason pulling a sickie. This was followed by having the flu (13%), a migraine (10%) and diarrhea (7%).

Food poisoning 27%
Vomiting 18%
Flu 13%
Migraine  10%
Diarrhoea  7%

How often Brits pull a sickie, per year

Resume.io also sought to find out how often Brits pull a sickie at work. Just over a third of respondents (37%) admitted to pulling between 1 and 2 “sickies” per year and, shockingly, almost half of workers surveyed confessed to faking 3 or 4!

As the number of days increase, the number of people pulling sickies decrease, but despite this, 1 in 10 surprisingly admitted to taking a whole working week off per year; 6% of respondents admitted to taking 7 days; and 2% admitted to taking 8!

They do it so often, they even have National Sickie Day, which is the first Monday in February. It is statistically the day people are most likely to call in sick.

1 – 2 days 37%
3 – 4 days 44%
5 – 6 days 11%
7 days 6%
8 days+ 2%


Resume.io interviewed 60,000 workers (30,000 men and 30,000 women) throughout the UK. We asked if they have lied about calling in sick to work to determine the names most likely to pull a sickie. We also asked respondents the reasons they have lied, their most common excuses, and how often they fake a sick day each year.

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