Brits searching for sickie excuses have increased significantly over the course of 2023, with ‘Work excuses for missing work’ and ‘Best reasons to call in sick’ making the top of the list.

At the start of February, in a single day it’s estimated that 1.6 million people called in sick, with many experts citing the end of dry January playing a role. Recently, we saw Man United striker, Marcus Rashford fined £650,000 for missing a match while claiming to be ill. YouGov dug into this and found that 44% of Brits admit to having pulled a sickie in their time.

In light of this, commercial property and office experts, Making Moves have investigated the top searches by Brits for calling in sick, and how these searches have increased in popularity since January 2023.

Top searches for Brits sickie excuses

Search term YoY % change since January 2023
Work excuses for missing work 100%
Best reason to call in sick 99.00%
Reasons to call in sick 97.00%
Great excuses to call off work 93.00%
Ring in sick excuses 91.00%
Top excuses for missing work 79.00%
How do I call in sick to work 75.00%
Good sick leave excuses 75.00%
Sicknesses to get out of work 72.00%
Calling in sick to work excuses 67.00%


Brits researching for more sickie excuses than ever

The results show a staggering increase for these searches over the last year, indicating that Brits are researching for more sickie excuses than ever.

According to the ONS, 185.6 million days were lost due to sickness across the UK in 2022 alone, working out at 5.7 days per a worker. In 2023, we saw this increase to an average of 7.8 days per a worker, according to a joint study by The Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) and health cash plan provider Simplyhealth.

Interestingly, the ONS data shows that since 1995, women are more likely to call in sick than men, which could be due to pressures ranging from unpaid domestic labour, to menstrual-related sickness. Another recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) of 2,000 women found that over half said they had to miss work due to period symptoms, with one in five having to take sick leave. At the time of the survey, just 12% of organisations provide support for menstruation and menstrual health.

Director of Operations at Making Moves, Sally Evans has said:

It is sad to see that UK women are more likely to take more sickness days than men, and that this is largely unchanged over the past 29 years. While roads have been made to support women more in the workplace, this data shows there is clearly a lot more to be done.

Sally Evans, Director of Operations at Making Moves

If you find your team are taking more sick days than previously, Making Moves have included their top tips on how to best approach this:

1. Create an environment that fosters and encourages an inclusive culture. Employees should feel welcomed, valued, empowered, and appreciated. Ensure your policies are clear and fair, and that as an employer, you recognise and value differences in your team members.
2. Empower supportive line managers. A line manager can make or break a team member’s experience of your workplace, so ensure your line managers have the appropriate training, and treat their team with dignity and respect. Empowering your line managers to make positive decisions for their team goes a long way and can encourage better performance and retention from their teams.
3. Implement mental health first aiders. This is a great way to upskill team members who are interested in supporting staff, equipping them with a framework and the knowledge to do so.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.