26 Best Excuses to Get Out of Work (Or Miss Work)

a picture of business person and good excuses to miss work

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 one that 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 then move on.

Best Excuses to Miss Work for 2021 (Excuses for Missing 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 presenting new opportunities for excuses. It's advised not to use the pandemic as an opportunity for a work excuse.

best excuses to miss work for 2020

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 that you 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:

  • Nauseous.
  • Back pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Cramping.
  • 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 2021: Have symptoms of COVID-19 and need to quarantine.

Family member is in need (family emergency)

Say something like, “My mother needs me today for some family matters. It seems like today would be a good day to take off. If it has to be one of my vacation days, I’m okay with that as well.” 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 appointment or a veterinarian appointment. Bring up that you have a few of these on this day, and it’s better that you 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

If you need to get out of work in the future and know the date. Then you can either use a last-minute excuse the day you need to use it. Or decide that it’s better to take a vacation day 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 have to 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. 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 informing 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 informing your employer that you'll need to stay home.
  • A car accident.
  • Attending the dentist for extended periods of time during the day.
  • Attend the optometrist for extended periods of time 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 needing to address the children's needs.
  • Parent or parents who have emergency issues. And needing to address those issues.

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 of 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 be taking 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 who were in attendance at the meeting of that reason. All you have to say is, “I’m moving this meeting because I’m feeling under the weather. And 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 inform 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 a critical part of taking the day off. Here's what you'll want to do:

  • Contact them on Slack or email (or both).
  • Inform them of the reason you'll be taking 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 be attending due to being out of the office.
  • Then propose ways to solve the fact that you will be missing meetings. For example, having 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.

Other Time Off Resources

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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