online shopping
Photograph by John Lamb—Getty Images

More Employees are Getting Fired for Shopping Online at Work

Updated: Dec 01, 2015 4:46 PM UTC

Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday are behind us, but that won’t stop anyone from buying gifts online—including when they’re supposed to be working. CareerBuilder’s new poll of 3,321 U.S. employees found that half (50%) admit to Internet shopping at the office, up about 3% from last holiday season.

Most likely to play Santa on company time: Salespeople (63%), financial services workers (62%), and IT staff (57%). Maybe in an attempt to sidestep company monitoring of web surfing—which has increased about 4% since last December, to 36% — almost half (42%) of shoppers say they use their personal devices, up from just 27% in 2014.

But bargain hunters beware: employers are in a Scrooge-like mood. Apparently fed up with what the study calls “the ever-looming distractions offered by technology,” almost one in three (28%) of the 2,326 managers CareerBuilder surveyed said they’ve fired someone for using the Internet for “non-work-related activity,” up from 24% last year.

About 42% of the people shopping in their cubicles say they’ll spend an hour or more this month visiting online stores, but at least they’re physically at work. That's not the case for the 38% who confess they’ve called in sick when they weren’t in 2015, a jump from 28% in 2014.

December is the most popular month of the year for going AWOL, pollsters found. About 40% of those missing work said they “just didn’t feel like going.”

When CareerBuilder asked managers to recall the weirdest excuses they’ve heard lately from someone taking a sick day, here’s what they said. The employee..

  • …claimed his grandmother had poisoned him with ham.
  • …said he was stuck under a bed.
  • …broke his arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich.
  • …said his wife found out he was cheating, and he had to spend the day retrieving his belongings from a dumpster.
  • …poked herself in the eye while combing her hair.
  • …was going to the beach because her doctor said she needed more vitamin D.
  • …said her cat was trapped inside the dashboard of her car.
  • …chugged a bottle of mouthwash, thinking it was a sports drink, and was ill as a result.
  • …said his girlfriend threw a pan of hot grits in his face.
  • …had a parakeet with the flu who needed to be taken care of.

Some bosses aren’t laughing. More than one in five (22%) told CareerBuilder they’ve fired someone for calling in with a dubious excuse, up from 18% last year. Note to would-be malingerers: Don’t post selfies. About one in four managers (26%) say they’ve fired a supposedly sick staffer who was having too much fun on social media.