December is an extremely popular month for pulling a sick day; some are feeling a little tender after the work Christmas party and can’t quite hack a Monday in the office, and others simply want to treat themselves to a day of relaxation before the festive chaos commences.

We’ve collated a list of the top excuses for staff absence over the Christmas period.

Winter bugs

Offices are a breeding ground for germs and illness, so it’s no surprise that the common cold and flu-like symptoms are the main cause of absence in December. Keeping the office environment clean and encouraging staff members to stay at home if they’re sick will reduce your overall absence rates.

Too many mulled wines

Believe it or not, it’s not uncommon for employees to call in sick after the work Christmas party. One UK marketing company has even implemented a ‘hangover leave’ policy, whereby staff can choose to work from home if they’re feeling a little worse for wear.

If you can’t afford to have sick employees over the festive period, ensure your Christmas party takes place over the weekend or manage Christmas beverage intake accordingly.


Stress, anxiety and depression make up 44% of all workplace absence, and with the added financial pressures of Christmas gifting, it’s likely to impact staff absence. If your organisation is taking part in a Secret Santa gift exchange, for example, ensure a budget is set and is a reasonable amount for all to enjoy.

Holiday request refusal

Whilst this isn’t necessarily an ‘excuse’ – it’s important to note that staff absence tends to increase in December when holiday requests are refused. It’s inevitable that employees are going to request annual leave on the same day, which means at least one of them will have to be rejected, and the result can lead to them ‘pulling a sickie’ anyway.

Keep tabs on those who have had their annual leave requests refused, as it wouldn’t be surprising if they suddenly came down with a ‘sickness bug’ on the day they wanted off.

Christmas is hectic enough, without having to monitor staff absences. Implementing an absence management system can take a huge amount of the workload off your shoulders by automating the entire process.

Start your free, 30-day LeavePlanner trial today.

For any queries, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email