34 Best Excuses to Get Out of Work (Or Miss Work)
Are you looking for excuses to miss work? Needing to get out of work and informing your employer about it can be a tricky process. At times, you might not feel entirely comfortable sharing the truth. And so you need a “white lie” to tell that doesn’t hurt your standing of being a good employee. But also gets you out for the day.
Let’s start with what makes up a good excuse to call out of work and what makes up a bad excuse to call out of work.
Good Excuses vs. Bad Excuses
A good excuse is something believable. And won’t require you to continue to tell a lie over time for your employer to believe it.
For example, a bad excuse to call out of work would be a death in the family (family emergencies). This is a bad excuse to get out of work. Your employer will most likely care about the fact that someone passed away in your family. And will follow up with you regarding it. This means you’ll have to tell more lies in the future, which isn’t great.
A good excuse is relatable, believable, and somewhat honest. It is something that has an expiration on it.
For example, a good excuse would be telling your employer that you simply aren’t feeling well. This can be the best way to get out of work last minute. And even if you needed to take the day off in advance, you could tell your employer that you aren’t feeling well last minute.
If they follow up with you and ask why you don’t sound stuffy or something along those lines. Then explain what type of illness or bug it was and move on.
Best Excuses to Miss Work
Do you want to get out of work last minute? Or call in sick? Here are the best excuses to use and how you might be able to tell them to your employer. And with the COVID-19 pandemic presents new opportunities for excuses. It's advised not to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a work excuse.
Not feeling well
Say something like, “I woke up this morning and didn’t feel well. I’m not sure what’s wrong. But I was hoping I could take a day off today.” Be sure to inform everyone on your team that you’re taking the day off. And move all of your appointments. If you're not feeling well, it's best not to go to work. Take a sick day!
If you aren't sure how to describe why you aren't feeling well, use one of the following:
- Back pain.
- Might have a fever.
- You are sluggish.
- About to vomit.
- Can't stand up.
- Have body aches.
- Neck or back pain.
- You are "cloudy" or not in the right mindset to work.
- For 2022: Have symptoms of COVID-19 and need to quarantine.
Family member is in need (family emergency)
Say something like, “My mother needs me for some family matters today. It seems like today would be a good day to take off. If it has to be one of my vacation days, I’m also okay with that.” Be sure you inform all members of your team, as well.
Need to care for your animal
This doesn’t just have to be an animal. It could be that you have a lot of personal appointments, like a dentist's or a veterinarian's appointment.
Bring up that you have a few of these on this day, and it’s better to take the day off.
Say something like, “I have a dentist and veterinarian appointment that I forgot about. They happened to both be on the same day. Is it okay if I use this as a vacation day?”
Mental health day
This isn’t a bad excuse. Most employers and team members will understand. But when you inform everyone about a mental health day, be sure you only express this to your manager or boss vs. your colleagues. Colleagues might not need to know this information. Say, “I’m not feeling myself today. Is it okay if I take a vacation day today?”
What If I Need to Take Off in Advance
Suppose you need to get out of work in the future and know the date. Then you can use a last-minute excuse the day you need to use it. Or decide it’s better to take a vacation or unpaid workday.
Most employers will be okay with a last-minute vacation day. And if you don’t receive vacation days, they’ll be okay with last-minute needs you must address. It's okay to take an escape from your job. And refresh yourself.
Employers have changed their policies dramatically about this. Flexibility is one of the top benefits that Generation-Z and Millennials appreciate in the workforce. This has caused a shift in the workplace. They are making it more common for employees to be seeking time off and last minute flexibility.
The point is, don’t overthink it. The need to take time off is okay. And, understandably, sometimes you don’t need to share the reasoning.
All Excuses to Miss Work
While the list above is some of your best options for missing work, you might need a few more ideas. Here are more ideas and reasons for missing work.
Top excuses when calling off of work
- Doctor's appointment and not being able to reschedule.
- Food poisoning and letting your employer know you need time to recover.
- Jury duty and informing your employer that you'll need to attend by law.
- A sick child and informing your employer that they will be home from school or daycare.
- Flat tire and inform your employer you'd like to work from home or miss today's work. Or general car trouble.
- General car issues and informing your employer you won't be able to attend work.
- Pink eye and inform your employer that you'll need to stay home.
- A car accident.
- Attending the dentist for extended periods during the day.
- Attend the optometrist for extended periods during the day.
- Needing to be part of your church group during the day.
- Needing to be part of your volunteer work during the day.
- Staying at home for cable service.
- Staying at home for a delivery that requires a signature.
- Internet service outages which are preventing you from working from home.
- Attending a veterinarian appointment which could take the entire day.
- Needing to have your computer looked at or serviced.
- Having your car serviced.
All other excuses for missing work
- Needing to travel for extended periods during the day.
- Needing to perform annual accounting, which can take up large portions of your day.
- A general emergency. And when this is the case, you might not need to explain what it is to your boss and mention it is private.
- Running personal errands all day.
- Needing to take a sick leave day.
- A child at home that's feeling ill. And need to address the children's needs.
- Parents or parents who have emergency issues. And need to address those issues.
- Needing to take a personal day.
- Having a "house emergency," including water, heat, air conditioning, or other mechanics.
Excuses to miss work when working remotely
- Having computer trouble.
- Poor internet connection and need assistance.
- Having issues with children at home.
- Needing to go to the doctor's or see a doctor.
- Leaving for the day to donate blood.
- Required to be part of funeral arrangements.
- General pet emergency and needing to go to a vet appointment.
Consider the excuse, first
While all of these are decent reasons or a good excuse for missing work, try to keep them plausible. Keep in mind that your employer may ask for proof. This means a doctor's note from your doctor or a photograph of your car accident from the service agent.
Additionally, it is always better not to lie to your employer to develop better relationships with them. If you can, try not to lie.
It's always best to say that you aren't feeling well versus using a fake reason just for playing hooky. And if you don't feel like you need to miss work. Then you can always suggest working remotely until you feel well enough to return to work in the office.
What to Do After Getting Approval for Taking a Day Off
If you get approval from your manager or boss about taking a day off, don’t forget to inform your team. This can be a way to ensure that you get future days off. And if your day off happens to disrupt the rest of the workplace's productivity. Then your employer might be less willing to give you time off in the future.
The way to handle this is by informing each of your colleagues that you will take the day off. Moving any scheduled meetings that you are leading. Or informing those meetings that you will not be in attendance but will have someone fill in for you instead.
If you are not feeling well, be sure to inform those attending the meeting of that reason. All you have to say is, “I’m moving this meeting because I’m feeling under the weather. And I don’t feel like I’ll be able to create a productive meeting for everyone. Let me know if this alternative time works instead.”
How to Inform Your Manager or Boss (Tell Your Boss)
Choosing the right venue to inform your manager or boss is important. The best time to tell them is as soon as you can. For example, if you know the night before that you aren't feeling well. Or plan not to feel well the next day. Then inform them that night. They won't be available or online at the time, but that's okay.
And if your company uses the instant messaging service Slack. Or any other type of instant messaging service to communicate. Then send your manager or boss a direct message through that. And if you aren't sure they'll be on Slack the next day, email them.
If they don't use any of these tools, you might have to make a phone call early in the morning. Ideally, they don't pick up, and you'll be forced to leave a voice message, which might benefit you anyway.
How to Tell Your Colleagues
As mentioned, informing your colleagues and attendees of meetings is critical to taking the day off. Here's what you'll want to do:
- Contact them on Slack or email (or both).
- Inform them of why you'll take a day off (from the list above).
- Inform them of your plan to catch up with your work the next day. Or anything that they might need to keep up productivity (like someone who can fill in for you).
- Change any meetings that you are planning. Or inform meeting holders that you will not attend due to being out of the office.
- Then propose ways to solve the fact that you will be missing meetings. For example, you have someone fill in for you to take notes. Follow up with the meeting holder, manager, or boss the day you're back to get a recap of what happened in the meeting.
Tip for Calling Out of Work on Short Notice
If you have young kids, pets, or other responsibilities in life, it's a commonplace to have to take a day off of work on short notice. Personal life and work-life balance is essential to preventing burnout in the workplace.
Prevent future problems by following these general tips:
- Keep your excuse simple. Believable excuses are those that are simple to communicate. Too much detail could allude to the fabrication.
- Don't take too many days off in a row or it could reflect poorly on you as an employee.
- Get creative, if the day you want to take off falls on a religious holiday, for example, use that as an excuse.
- Never inform your employer that you must take a day off because of a job search or an interview for another job opportunity.
- If you work remotely, it's acceptable to take a day off if you aren't feeling well or if you are feeling tired.
- Never tell your manager that you have legal concerns or a personal home emergency that shouldn't get shared. Keep your private life private.
- Generally, don't share too many details about the reason for taking off work. Choose your valid reason and stick to that.
Email Example Asking to Take Off Work Last Minute
Here is a short email example asking your manager to take the day off of work due to unforeseen circumstances:
Could I take the day off today? Someone is filling in for me on the meetings today and taking notes. I am not feeling well. I have a fever and just can't seem to stay at the computer for very long.
Apologies that this is last minute, I wanted to get to you as much advance notice as I could. I woke up this morning hoping I would be okay. It turns out I might need the day.
If I need to mark today as a personal illness, please let me know.
Thanks so much,
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Prepare for Behavioral Interview Questions by Marquette University
- Preparing for Job Interviews by the University of Kansas
- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
- Interview Guidebook by Lebanon Valley College
Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
- Resume Writing Tips by the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
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