Never Call In Sick On Friday, Slacker!


There's nothing more maddening for a manager than getting a last minute e-mail from a subordinate “calling” in sick on a Friday.  At least have the balls to call in and fake a pathetic sick voice!  Sending in an e-mail last minute to say you are sick after partying it up all night is like breaking up with someone over e-mail.

Last minute notifications have managers scrambling to find your backup. Your jealous colleagues who have to pick up your slack will surely resent you as well  The next problem is the law of probabilities. 

Let me explain why calling in sick on a Friday or a Monday is a career-limiting move.

Why Calling In Sick Is Bad On A Friday Or Monday

* There are seven days a week, meaning there's a 15% chance (1/7) you'll get sick on any given day.  Furthermore, what is the percentage chance someone is so sick they can't even come to work for a day?  I say at most 50%.  Take 15% X 50% and you get 7.5%. To suddenly be sick on a Friday right before your weekend is therefore an unlikely 7.5% probability!

* Whenever you call in sick on a Friday, your manager will always think in the back of her mind you're likely playing hooky and flying to Las Vegas Thursday night for a romping weekend. Yes, your manager would like to believe in the 7.5% chance you really can't get out of bed and work, but doubts will linger.  Because there is doubt, you start challenging your manager's trust. Once you lose your manager's trust, IT IS ALL OVER!

* Your manager was once a subordinate. Every single game you try to play, your manager has probably played to some degree. Even better, your manager was once a student. Who doesn't remember playing fake sick during high school? Don't think for one second your manager is so naive!

* You will be labeled. Once you get labeled as a slacker, your career will get short-circuited. Your promotion and pay schedule will be lower. Eventually, you may end up as a quiet quitter who just ships it in. Not bad, if you don't get let go. But also not very motivating either.

If You Must Call In Sick And Play Hooky

Never take Friday off unless you are really dying in bed.  If you are, then you must get a doctor's note. If you can't get to the doctor, call your doctor and have him/her fax to your HR or manager a doctor's note. 

Even if you're just feeling bad, make an effort to come into work for half a day and then go home. This is your absolute BEST solution because it shows your dedication.

Losing your manager's trust is a sure way to never getting promoted. If you must take Friday off, just tell your manager you'd like to take a personal day or a vacation at least two days in advance. 

Your manager will appreciate your honesty, and may more than likely grant you your request provided you've planned out your back up. Don't ever let the manager think you are stealing from the company. Because getting paid if you aren't sick is exactly that, stealing.

Be Smarter About Calling In Sick From Work

It's tough love, I know, but calling in sick multiple times a year is a sure sign you don't care and will highly increase your chances of getting laid off. If you're resorting to calling in sick to stay away from work, then you better find another job because there are plenty of other people who will happily take your spot!

Look, we know it's sometimes too tough to walk in the park and work 40 hours a week. With millions of people out of work, you don't really care because your mentality is that work is just a contract and you already feel underpaid.

Life is tough, I know. But, you're a smart slacker, which is why if you want an extra day to play hooky, and don't want to get fired, you're taking Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday off! 

Just be honest with your manager and use a vacation day. Your career will thank you for it.

No Time To Slack Off Anymore

If you're able to work from home, then calling in sick is more suspect now. Just be careful about abusing your work flexibility.

A recession is here thanks to rising rates, rising energy prices, and slowing corporate earnings. The people who get laid off first are the ones who are the worst performers. Then the manager looks through and sees who's been constantly calling in sick and going on vacation.

The biggest concern with a recession is mass layoffs. With stocks correcting and many tech stocks firmly in bear market, cuts are coming. Now is the time to network more and work harder, not less.

It may be best to look for a new job before you get canned. But at least learn to enjoy your life in a bear market as the Fed ruins the world!

Negotiate A Severance Instead Of Quit Your Job

If you want to leave a job you no longer enjoy, I recommend negotiating a severance instead of quitting. With a severance package, you not only get a severance check, but potentially subsidized healthcare, deferred compensation, and worker training.

When you get laid off, you're also eligible for up to roughly 27 weeks of unemployment benefits. Having a financial runway is huge during your transition period.

Conversely, if you quit your job you get nothing. Check out, How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune By Saying Goodbye.

It's the only book that teaches you how to negotiate a severance. In addition, it was recently updated and expanded thanks to tremendous reader feedback and successful case studies.

Add to Cart

Recommendation To Build Wealth

n order to optimize your finances, you've first got to track your finances. I recommend signing up for Personal Capital's free financial tools so you can track your net worth, analyze your investment portfolios for excessive fees, and run your financials through their fantastic Retirement Planning Calculator.

Those who are on top of their finances build much greater wealth longer term than those who don't. I've used Personal Capital since 2012. It's the best free financial app out there to manage your money.

Planning for retirement when paying for private grade school
Link up your accounts and see whether you're on track to retirement in great shape or in poverty

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 50,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. To get my posts in your inbox as soon as they are published, sign up here

58 thoughts on “Never Call In Sick On Friday, Slacker!”

  1. “Losing your manager’s trust is a sure way to never getting promoted.” Well this was the weirdest article ever. Then I noticed the comments were from 2009 and it all makes sense.

    Being a “financial samurai” means you would never get “promoted” by a boss. You’d get promoted through a diagonal transfer aka applying for a higher position elsewhere. The early 2000s were all about the “loyalty grind”.

    I switch jobs every 2 years:
    1) Im ultra competitive because of all my skills/successful projects
    2) Im out of there before those projects move to the resource heavy “maintenance” phase
    3) None of my lies have caught up with me yet
    4) Ive found those 2-3 coworkers that are worth keeping in touch with long term

    The economy is fake, “producing value” doesn’t mean anything when idiots are measuring the value produced, and exploiting companies is the function of any job

    1. Ah, you’ve stumbled upon a post I wrote back in 2010, two years before I left my job. Brings back fond memories!

      Yes, switching jobs every 2-3 years will definitely increase your pay and promotion schedule.

      And hopefully, you’ll eventually find a job you will enjoy for a while. Or better yet, retire early and do what you want!

  2. There’s nothing more maddening for a normal person to read some weirdo whining on the internet about someone taking a day off, except when they call someone “subordinate”, that’s even more maddening, because it’s even more retarded.

    Are you stuck in 1933, calling workers “subordinates”? Get over yourself, you’re not that important. Nobody is.

  3. @Steved
    LOL, that’s great! For the math challenged:

    40% of sick days are taken on Fridays or Mondays, likewise if you pick any two days in a 5-day workweek it’ll be 40% as well (like Tues & Thurs).

    Those are the odds you’d expect when you are talking about purely random picking of two days.

    There is only a slim 22% chance that if you miss three days of work out of a year, none will be a Friday or Monday. Nothing worse than a manager with a bad grasp of statistics, and using flawed calculations to define ‘trust’.

  4. “Study shows that 40% of sick days are taken on a Monday or Friday!”

    Just another example of real life emulating Dilbert.

  5. Brian @ My Payday Loan Cash

    thank u so much for this post.. hated when co-workers pulled this move, also hate when they pull it on mondays..

    its so obvious that your being a slacker

  6. Miguel @ Great Stops

    With my team, I try to give extra personal days off to help fight the “sick of work” feeling. I personaly try to come in if I can, because it just seems like things pile up and the next day is even worse. But I much rather someone be upfront with me and tell me, I just need to be off, then to fake it, and lie to me. Breaks that bond of trust.

    1. Miguel – Good stuff. It’s all about trust. Extra personal days off helps. I guess the key is timing or forewarning by individuals who feel like they are getting sick to notify their manager beforehand. Thnx for stopping by! Sam

  7. I’m with Andrew. I didn’t have a single sick day when I worked for the man. Seeing other people taking the p- was one reason why I went freelance!

    Obviously if someone is sick they’re sick (being sick when self-employed is no fun — you don’t get paid, and you let clients down, and it’s since happened to me) but it’s funny how the same people seem to get sick all the time… either footloose party types (who FS is calling out) or miserable grumps, in my experience.

    1. Monevator – Some people are just “sick of work” ya now? I think we all are to some extent on a weekly basis. Some just choose to take it to the extreme and just not come in!

      Whatcha do freelance now?

  8. I’ve always found missed Mondays to be only slightly deadlier to your career ambitions than missed Fridays. Anyways, put me in the camp that takes a day when sick, no matter which day it is.

  9. I think working in an environment where we have “unlimited” sick days actually serves to deter people from abusing any policies. As it is now, people will question if they are being too aggressive even if they have only taken a few days that year.

    That may just be indicative of my co-workers, though.

  10. @The Genius Apparently I’m not getting your drift. You said “call in sick ALL 3 times on a Friday” (emphasis mine).

    Anyhow, If you miss 3 days a year, there is about a 50/50 chance that at least one of those days is a Friday (80% not Friday ^ 3rd power). Extrapolating, if you miss 9 days, there is a 50/50 chance that 3 of the 9 were Friday.

    Even if someone misses 6 days, and 3 happen to be Friday — that is not so far fetched: they only missed 1 more Friday than expected (a likely outlier).

  11. Oh, and I vastly prefer Mondays off anyway. I’d rather have a long weekend followed by a short week than the other way around. Somehow it feels like more time off :-)

  12. Sick days are part of your benefits, and they expire, so you should be taking them all even if you’re not really sick.

    I’ve used them on days where I have regular doctor’s checkups, eye exams, or dental appointments so I can take the whole day off. This means that the majority of the time my sick days are planned in advance so they know it’s coming. There have been a very few other times where I left early, but where I work they aren’t going to make you report that time unless it’s going to put you behind on your work/deadlines, in which case you should report it so that you can get an extension on whatever deadline, which is easily granted.

    If it’s been awhile since your last vacation, our manager will come to your office and strong-arm you into taking time off. It’s the best office culture ever.

  13. @Marc
    “If you call in sick all 3 times on a Friday this year, I promise you your manager has you at the bottom of the curve. But, you’re right, so be it!”

    I’d say fire the manager, because an employee who ONLY MISSES 3 DAYS a year should be set for a raise — I don’t care what 3 days he misses, he is still showing up for nearly 99% of the workdays.

  14. Andrew – If I ever start a company, I’d like to interview you as a potential employee if interested!

    B – The good thing is, if you are truly sick, you only have a 15% chance of being sick on a Friday, so you don’t have to worry! Once is fine, but when it starts getting in the 2, 3+ range, just get a doctor’s note and try and stay in contact and work at home. It is what it is.

    Tyrone/The Genius – Glad you got my back and agree!

  15. I understand why some employers would be skeptical, especially if someone has made a pattern of shady behavior/work ethic…but as someone who gets sick a lot, but rarely actually takes a full day off, and still gets all her work done I’d like to say that your math is bogus.
    You can’t use probability to calculate when people will get sick…I know you are saying these people are NOT sick…but maybe SOMETIMES someone really is sick on a Friday. If I have a migraine, or the flu, or some really bad cold, and it happens to be a Friday I think it’s annoying to have to be concerned that my manager will no longer trust me.

    Granted, if I don’t come in I don’t need to be covered for, and I can do a lot of work from home (if I feel well enough to be awake). But I have been legitimately sick on Fridays….and Saturdays and Sundays, Christmas Eve…my immune system doesn’t seem to care what day it is, and doesn’t respect your probability calculations! haha

  16. @BG

    Agreed re: US employers. I definitely have to fight with myself to use all my vacation days. Probably why no one really abuses sick days here.

  17. Andrew @ Financial Services

    I’m not trying to sound like a saint here but I never call in sick. As long as I can get up, I’ll go to work. I just hate the feeling of seeing a deduction on my paycheck for being late or absent.

  18. Millionaire Acts

    I agree with this. I think anyone would be angry with you if you just called your boss late without prior notice most especially if there’s a lot of work.

    But I guess this is the tactic of a lot of empoyees as the next day is Saturday, therefore no work (unless you are required to work overtime).

  19. Marc,
    7 days a week is 7 days a week, including Sat/Sun. From an employer’s point of view, you have Sat Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, and Thurs to be sick so how can you always be sick on a Friday?

    Even if there was magic land where there wasn’t a Sat and Sunday, 20% is still a low percentage.

    If you call in sick all 3 times on a Friday this year, I promise you your manager has you at the bottom of the curve. But, you’re right, so be it!

    The Genius

  20. Your math doesnt make sense to me .. no manager cares if employees are sick on sat/sun… He only has to worry about sick employees 5 days out of the week.. so if an emplyee calls in sick the probability is 20% it is friday…

    Your “50%-rule” applies to tuesdays as much as it does to fridays, and is therefor irrelevant to fridays

    I think i call in sick maybe 2 or 3 days a year, if i am sick on a friday, so be it..

  21. Interestingly the same principle applies to shift workers. The day doesn’t matter, but people often taking off the ‘last night shift’ or ‘earlies’ are viewed with the same derision, regardless of reason!

  22. @Charlie
    Hangovers as an excuse… hahaha, love it. You must have some early 20-something year old employees then Charlie? After I puked 6 times during college one year bc of too many Tequila shots, I’ve been very careful not to over do it!

    CLM = Career Limiting Moves! Who spends $6 bucks for a beer anyway, when you can just go to Safeway and buy a can for a buck! FS

  23. @LeanLifeCoach
    Well said. Interesting perspective on “anything that goes wrong is the manager’s fault.” Sounds like you are a great leader, and take blame honorably with no excuses Lean!

    Great attitude. I think you’d be someone I’d like to work for! FS

  24. There will always be people that will play hooky – that’s why it’s good to have some limits to the amount of sick days. I agree that people who consistently call in sick on Fridays and Mondays are faking it – and hangovers are not excuses to miss work. It frustrates me that some people really don’t take care of their health & abuse unlimited sick days. They are cutting their careers and lives short.

  25. As an employer, you have to be realistic; sometimes a person is going to want/need a day off. If your employee feels they need to “play hooky” and mislead you to do it, there was no trust to begin with. It is a two way street.

    I learned long ago, as a manager, anything that goes wrong is the manager’s fault.

    My approach is that open and honest communication is the rule. If you want a day off, tell me, we will work it out if at all possible. If you are going to lie, you can do it at another company! I don’t need you.

  26. @The Genius
    the rest of my post has the explanation:

    “Salaried employees are still expected to get the job done (meet schedules / deadlines), whether that means working weekends or over-time is really the employees problem. Perhaps my company is different from the environment you are describing. When I’m out sick, I don’t need to be replaced by a backup. I just need to work extra to make up for lost time.”

    So, if I play hooky — I’m just screwing myself by having to make up the work on nights/weekends anyway. Perhaps I’m a special case, but I think most salaried employees are in the same boat I am, there just is no incentive for me to play hooky, therefore I don’t.

  27. FinanciallySmart

    Agree with you. Why calling in sick on a friday then monday you are smiley and happy. Losing your manager trust is what will keep you back in the job. Sometimes persons does things without thinking of the consequences but yet again if it is a job that they only going for the money then he/she will not care.

  28. BG – Your arguments are off again. You write, “Most employees at my corp are salaried employees, so it doesn’t make sense to “play hooky”. ” HUH?

    If you are a salaried employee, that’s precisely why it makes sense to play hooky! That’s the definition of hooky, you get paid anyway even if you’re not there.

    The Genius

  29. @Geek
    I get 3 weeks vacation as well (unlimited sick days). I believe I’ll finish the year with a few vacation days left unused (no carryover), and I was out 1 day due to illness this year. Actually, I know quite a lot of people who don’t have the time to use all of their vacation days, and they work in unrelated fields.

    It is unheard of in Europe for people to finish the year with unused vacation days…US employers have it made better than they know.

  30. There is “truly sick” and “50% sick”.
    It depends on where you work and what the culture is. I never take a sick day I don’t need, or substitute sick days for vacation days. I suppose I’m lucky to have a nice work environment. 2 weeks of sick leave and 3 weeks of vacation+2 personal days *starting*. It gets better with seniority.
    I am, for the record, still expected to complete all of my projects and make up lost work as best I can.

    Is anyone here from Europe, where vacation times and sick leave policies seem(to me) a bit more reasonable?

  31. @admin
    Most employees at my corp are salaried employees, so it doesn’t make sense to “play hooky”. Salaried employees are still expected to get the job done (meet schedules / deadlines), whether that means working weekends or over-time is really the employees problem. Perhaps my company is different from the environment you are describing. When I’m out sick, I don’t need to be replaced by a backup. I just need to work extra to make up for lost time.

    My wife works in a role where she is a part-time hourly employee (no paid sick days). When she is out sick, her boss expects her to find someone else to take their spot that day (so they are not short staffed). That system seems to work pretty well: the employees cooperate to make the weekly schedule, and to make corrections as needed when people are sick. She usually works an extra shift a few times a month to backfill for others who are out (totally her choice whether to do that or not). There is no incentive in that environment to “play hooky” either — you are only paid when you work, and there are plenty of people wanting extra hours.

    I’m guessing you are coming from the standpoint of a full-time hourly employee with paid sick/vacation days. As long as the sick/vacation days are lumped together in a single basket, then I don’t see a problem with someone using one of those days to “play hooky” and start a vacation early, but I can see the problem if people are not planning their vacations ahead of time to stop the confusion. My mother’s job is similar to this, but she has a hostile management chain that refuses to grant (at least to her) her requested vacation days — so, in the end, she just “plays hooky” to use her earned sick/vacation days.

    But that is more indicative of a general attitude problem with management that is causing the employees to do that (employers don’t trust employees, and vice-versa). If you don’t want employees “playing hooky”, then give then their requested days off — seems simple.

  32. I think it is better for them to at least call in than do nothing. Today we had someone just not show up….no call or anything. I am a teacher and with all the swine flu madness we are short substitutes….so we did not have anyone who was available to come in. We are swamped and at least if the person had called in we might have had a chance to get someone in.

    1. Lulu – Not even calling is a big time no no! That is disrespectful and selfish. S/he should be disciplined, or at least not given an apple next time s/he comes to school! FS

  33. @admin
    I don’t think playing hooky is a big problem, but lets assume it is.

    If you think employees are “faking sick” — perhaps you could call the employee (at home) mid-day to “check up on them”, or stop by their home with some hot soup instead? Taking it up a level, you can make it clear to the employee that you will be calling them (at home or relative’s house) later in the day and get the appropriate phone number (and a good time) from them when they call in sick.

    Or institute a policy of requiring a doctors note (but you better be providing damn good health insurance if you are going to require a doctors note).

    1. Yes, because passive-aggressive management style works so well.

      If your employee is performing well you give them the benefit of the doubt. PERIOD. If you don’t trust your employees then you have bigger issues. If the employee is a problem then playing hooky is irrelevant; their performance will tell you all you need to know.

      The person above who said their company kept a “blacklist, ” if that were me, upon mention of the “blacklist” I think I would have laughed in their face and walked out.

      I realize these are older post that were written at the height of the recession, but still…a blacklist? That’s is laughable and not a company you would want to spend any length of time at. I bet “they” don’t even understand their high turn over rates.

  34. Folks, I guess half my point isn’t being properly telegraphed. I firmly believe the MAJORITY of people who call in sick on a Friday aren’t truly sick!

    Hence, at least come into work and FAKE SICK it for a bit before flying off to Vegas and party! :)

    B/c people are fake sick, there’s no fear of spreading a cold!

  35. Mrs. Micah – You’re lucky you’re healthy and have such an understanding manager!

    Often times I think it’s absolutely worth coming in, just for an hour and have your manager look at you funny, and then send you home.

    Stay well!

  36. BG – Why can’t we just get a long? :)

    I like your work policy, but you are naïve to think nobody abuses the policy. Then again, I donno how large your company is, and how to the culture either.

  37. “but calling in sick multiple times a year is a sure sign you don’t care about your job.”
    “I say BS — if you are sick DO NOT GO INTO WORK — and any smart manager will tell you this. I’d rather have one employee home sick today, than my entire staff home sick next week.”

    I concur with BG. If you care about your company, don’t come into work sick. If you care about maintaining appearances at all costs, including the health and productivity of your coworkers, by all means come in.
    My work group maintains that if you think you will perform less than optimally due to illness, you should stay home and prevent the spread of that illness, which will hurt more than your day(s) of attendance helps.

  38. Agree, better to just be honest about the day off. Just ask for a half day instead so you will be able to head off for the weekend, and you won’t lose your boss’s trust.

  39. I don’t know if I’ve called in sick on a Friday. Fortunately I haven’t had to use many sick days because I’m normally in good health.

    But my manager has a clear “If you’re feeling sick, you belong elsewhere because you are NOT going to get ME and the rest of my staff sick” policy, which helps me make up my mind when calling in. If I think she’ll look funny at me the whole day, I call out.

  40. John DeFlumeri Jr

    Excellent advice, we’ve all known lazy slackers like that. They label themselves for years with that kind of behavior. Reputation follows them to the next job too.

  41. My work actually puts you on a ‘blacklist’ if you take a sick day on a friday or monday. They review all time off you take for the next year. If you do it twice you are reprimanded. A little overkill if you ask me.

  42. If people are healthy 95% of the time, then they are sick 18.25 days out of the year (13 are weekdays), which means they’ll miss nearly 2.6 Fridays (out of 52 a year) which is 5%.

    Granted a LOT of people are out this Friday due to the swine flu epidemic going on, and they should not be coming into work if they think they are infected.

    “but calling in sick multiple times a year is a sure sign you don’t care about your job.”
    I say BS — if you are sick DO NOT GO INTO WORK — and any smart manager will tell you this. I’d rather have one employee home sick today, than my entire staff home sick next week.

    If you don’t trust your employees, you’ve got another problem altogether. My employer doesn’t even have sick days — we take what we need, and to my knowledge nobody abuses it. Very unprofessional to play hooky.

  43. Neal@wealthpilgrim


    Love it. First, anytime you can reference Ferris Bueller (Spelling?) you have a great post.

    As a small business owner, I am proud to say that my staff doesn’t abuse “sick days”. It would be a huge red flag to me if someone called in sick on Friday. I would actually take it personally because I look at our firm as a team. I would feel let down. I imagine many small business owners feel that way.

  44. Hey Neal! You’re showing your age brother, but then again, so am I?

    You bring up a very good perspective regarding small business vs. big corporations. I have to imagine that employees in small businesses have a closer affinity to “the greater good.” I think that’s what big businesses constantly strive to instill in their employees through stock options, sabbaticals, and other benefits.

    Thnx for sharing!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *