Flu is the excuse bosses are most likely to believe, a new survey shows.
Flu tops the chart as the most understandable justification, followed by back pain and injury caused by an accident.
But even flu only satisfied just over four in 10 bosses surveyed, with the majority unconvinced.
The new survey asking 1,000 senior business leaders also shows that bosses can be highly suspicious about their employees excuses for not coming in.
‘Staffs are much more likely to lie if their boss is suspicious and if they need time off for mental health issues than they are for physical health problems.’
The research sets out what employers think are 'serious enough reasons' for an employee to be absent from work .
Stress is the next most reasonable excuse in the eyes of employers, with depression and surgery such as hip or knee replacements narrowly behind.
According to the Liverpool Echo , common colds, anxiety and migraines only convinced just over 20% of business managers and owners in the study.
Almost 8% said they were not convinced by any of the health problems.
Worryingly, employers scepticism seems to explain why many workers hide the real reason they are asking for time off.
And researchers found staff are much more likely to lie if they need time off for mental health issues than they are for physical health problems.
Less than half the workforce would tell their line manager they were calling in sick because of stress, anxiety or depression, according to the survey.
By contrast, more than 80% would feel comfortable asking for time off because of flu, being injured in an accident or back pain.
People who work for small and medium-sized businesses are particularly likely to expect not to be believed, fear being judged or simply want to keep it private over mental health issues.