This Is the Day You’re Most Likely to Call in Sick

Sick days are sometimes contagious, as any boss can tell you. Find out when workers are more likely to be missing.

Certain days of the year seem to be plagued by an epidemic of absent employees. Most bosses will attest that there are definite patterns to when workers are more likely to call out sick.

Career website Zippia analyzed their website traffic for the entire year of 2019 to see when most people were home taking a day off from work. They paid particular attention to the activity logged on a page that provided tips for calling in sick. Their data revealed some interesting findings.

Holidays are hotbeds of absenteeism

The majority of the top ten sick days fell around a holiday. “I was surprised to see just how drastic the increase in sick days was near holidays,” said Kathy Morris of Zippia.

“Obviously, holidays carry with them certain stressors, such as family, and can involve schedule changes, and overindulgence in food and drink,” Morris says. “People may be genuinely sick or exhausted and simply need a break. It may also be an attempt to spend time with family who has more generous holidays or related to childcare.”

A wave of post-Christmas callouts

The day after Christmas was by far the most popular sick day of 2019, seeing a surge of almost 400 percent over a typical day. “That is huge,” says Morris. “The average was much closer to 100 percent fluctuation day over day.”

In addition to the holiday-related factors mentioned above, there could be another reason for holiday no-shows at the office. Gatherings involving a lot of people are environments where germs can spread easily. So if one person in your holiday get-together is sick, it’s likely that a few others will soon also feel under the weather. When you are under the weather, follow these rules for calling in sick at work.

The day after Easter

The second-highest sick day surge was on April 22, which in 2019 was the day after Easter. Seems like many people weren’t so eager to hop right back to work after the Easter holiday. In many areas, students have this day off from school, so it is possible many parents decided to stay home with the kids.

January 2nd

It’s probably not a big shock that many offices are a bit emptier than usual on January 2. Some employees may still be nursing a hangover or otherwise recovering from their New Year’s revelry. Parents may stay home because kids have no school and they don’t have childcare. Others may just want to try and stretch out the winter holidays as long as they can.

Nobody likes Mondays

It seems like many people have trouble getting motivated on Mondays. Twenty percent of the sick day searches happened on a Monday. “The increased call-outs on Monday suggest that people value time off more when it’s clustered together,” says Morris. “In today’s modern world, people are more connected to their jobs than ever. Disconnecting can be almost impossible. It may be that a ‘bonus’ three-day weekend allows workers to function at their best and increases productivity.” Somewhat surprisingly, Fridays didn’t see as much of the “sick time syndrome” as you might expect.

The day after Mother’s Day

In 2019, May 13 was the day after Mother’s Day, so it was both a Monday and the day after a holiday. Some people might be surprised to learn this day came in at #4 on the list. You might not immediately associate Mother’s Day with being a catalyst for skipping work, but maybe a lot of moms decided to extend their special weekend. Or perhaps some wanted to spend a little more time with their own moms or be at home for a day of self-care when the kids were at school.

Rounding out the top ten of sick days were the day after St. Patrick’s Day, the Monday after New Year’s, and the Monday after July 4th. Next, read on to find out the boss-approved reasons for calling in sick.

Bobbi Dempsey
Bobbi Dempsey is a freelance writer, editor and content specialist whose credits include NY Times, Forbes, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and many others. She has written both consumer-facing and B2B content for numerous companies in the technology, healthcare, education, and personal finance industries.