Bathroom horror stories are the surest way of convincing your boss you need a sick day, according to new research, while colds and mental health issues won’t sway anyone.

The study, conducted by UK healthcare provider Benenden, involved 2,500 employers and employees, and found that vomiting was the most acceptable reason to take a day off (73 per cent).

Diarrhoea came in at a close second with 71 per cent.

Fewer than two third of the people taking part in the study deemed the flu a valid reason for a day off, while a vague “sick bug” was only convincing enough for 53.2 per cent of participants.

Stress? Forget about it. Only 19 per cent of participants accepted stress as an excuse for sick leave, while other mental health issues were accepted by just 17 per cent. A head cold (11.4 per cent) also won’t win you much sympathy.

If the research definitively proved one thing, it’s that you have to come up with some sort of excuse for chucking a sickie — only six per cent of participants thought feeling “under the weather” with no specific symptoms was a good enough reason to stay home.

Benenden director Inji Duducu told The Independent that the study highlights problems with the way mental health is perceived at work.

“There seems to be a clear lack of understanding from some employers in terms of employee well-being,” she said. “There is a strong commercial case for having a healthy and engaged workforce, yet employers are evidently ignoring the impact of an employee’s physical and mental well-being on productivity, absenteeism and [length of service].”

The study also revealed that women are more likely than men to call in sick, with 54 per cent of women taking a sick day compared to 43 per cent of men.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, absenteeism was more frequent among younger people (aged 18 to 35).

Luckily for business owners, sick days aren’t as much of a problem in Australia as it used to be, with a separate study released last week by absence-management firm Direct Health Solutions confirming that absenteeism has dropped to its lowest level since the global financial crisis.

The average worker now takes 8.6 days of sick leave per year, which is still enough to cost Australia’s national economy $32.5 billion a year in lost wages and productivity.

The most convincing excuses for taking a sick day

  1. Vomiting (72.9%)
  2. Diarrhoea (71.0%)
  3. Flu (58.1%)
  4. Sick bug (53.2%)
  5. A migraine (36.5%)
  6. Stress (19.0%)
  7. Mental health issues (16.9%)
  8. A head cold (11.4%)

Have you chucked a sickie recently? Get it off your chest in the comments below!