30 Good Excuses To Leave Work Early, By Category

30 Good Excuses To Leave Work Early, By Category
Image Credit: Smithsonian Magazine

Sometimes putting in your full eight hours feels like a tall order. While flexible scheduling options are getting more popular, not all companies are on board with the idea of employees just coming and going (or logging on and logging off) as they please.

But remote, hybrid, and fully in-person employees may occasionally need a reason to duck out of the workplace before their full eight (or more) hours are up. We wanted to know what others in this position had done, so we put the call out to our list of contributors asking for good excuses to leave work early. Their 30 suggestions range from excuses miss work on short notice to excuses that discourage questions (including bodily issues large and small), and excuses that can, if delivered correctly, make you look like a better employee.

 

Last-Minute Excuses To Leave Work Early

  • Back pain
  • Car maintenance
  • Gotta pick up the kids
  • Hazardous weather
  • Home maintenance & upkeep
  • I’ll explain tomorrow
  • I have to see the doctor
  • I must face my landlord
  • Leaking pipes
  • Porch pirate prevention

 

Reasons That Discourage Questions

  • Abdominal issues
  • Family emergency
  • I came in early, so I’m leaving early
  • I have a migraine
  • I’m dizzy…and nauseated
  • I’m getting married
  • My sciatica is flaring up
  • Sick family member
  • Someone died
  • Taking care of my pet
  • Unexplained illness (stomach flu edition)

 

Professional-Sounding Excuses For Leaving Work

  • Adjusting my hours to maximize productivity
  • Appointment with a career counselor
  • Attending a career development event
  • Computer issues
  • Internet issues
  • I’ve got school
  • Volunteering at an important event

 

30 Excuses For Leaving Work Early (Full List)

Feel compelled to provide more details with your explanation? The responses below are ready to go.

Abdominal issues

If your stomach is bothering you, I don’t think your boss would want you to keep working. Imagine if it were a very contagious gastrointestinal disorder and you were in the middle of a crowd. Your superiors probably don’t want an epidemic at work. What if your job involves serving food? You could be risking others. It’s better for your employers to deal with only one absence (yours). It’s the perfect justification for cutting out early from work.

— Zephyr Chan of Living the Good Life

Adjusting my hours to maximize productivity

If you work in a high-stress, difficult work environment, it might be smart to leave work early some days to mentally recharge. If you can leave a few hours earlier on a Wednesday to get home and rest up, you might be able to be even more effective when Thursday morning rolls around.

— Brent Thurman of Keystone Insurance

Appointment with a career counselor

I have an appointment with a career counselor to discuss my future plans and career options. It is important to understand the options available to me, so I need to leave work early to attend the appointment.

— Liam John of One Lucky Couple

Attending a career development event

One unique excuse to leave work early could be to attend a career development event such as a networking seminar or a professional conference. This type of event could help with future job prospects and could be used as a valid excuse for leaving work early.

— Haris Bacic of PriceListo

Back pain

The discomfort in one’s back is a typical reason for people to seek medical attention or take time off from work. Back pain can have catastrophic consequences if left untreated.

— Mathew Bowley of Solmar Villas

Car maintenance

If you need to drop off your vehicle for maintenance, you must do so during business hours. Tell your boss you’ll finish some work before dropping off the car at three o’clock. It shows commitment — just don’t use it too often.

— Jeremy Dawes of Jezweb

Computer issues

My professional opinion is that working from home presents its own unique hurdles, one of which is computer problems. Depending on the difficulties, you may have to wait a day or more for a new computer to be delivered to your home. Ensure that you have rebooted your computer prior to contacting the help desk or your supervisor, who may ask if you’ve performed these or other procedures, such as restarting the computer, before calling for assistance.

— Kenny Kline of Barbend

Family emergency

If you want to provide a very vague excuse, you can explain that you must respond to a family emergency and leave it at that. There is no further explanation in this excuse as long as you sound genuine. Most bosses would accept this excuse once a year without raising an eyebrow as long as you don’t have a history of being absent or asking for too much time off.

— Jennifer Curtis of shecookssheeats.co.uk

Gotta pick up the kids

While you don’t necessarily want to take advantage of it, your kids needing to be picked up from anywhere, for any reason, is always the best excuse to leave work early. Employers have a hard time arguing with that reason to leave. Unless it’s the fifth time in as many days that you’ve had “an appointment” for your kid. Then you might catch some pushback.

— Amy Weiher of Weiher Creative

Hazardous weather

We can’t control the weather, and some drivers are better used to driving in adverse weather circumstances than others. Sometimes a business will close if snow or ice is predicted, and sometimes not. It is up to the employee to judge whether driving is safe.

— Tom Miller of Fitness Volt

I came in early, so I’m leaving early

I’ve found that if I arrive early and focus on my work in the morning, I can often get more done before lunchtime than if I arrived later. As a result, I often leave earlier in the day, but I still end up doing all of my work. I’m just working more efficiently by utilizing the time I have in the morning and getting ahead of the curve. Explaining to your boss that you are able to get more done earlier in the day if you come in before everyone else can be a good excuse to by explaining your modus operandi.

— Dan Troha of Trivia Bliss

I’ll explain tomorrow

If you have a supervisor that wants to grill you when you want to leave, but you just want to get out the front door, you can tell him or her that you have an emergency as you run out…and keep your fingers crossed that they forget about it. If they don’t forget? Say something like, “I’m sorry, it’s personal, and I feel uncomfortable talking about it.”

— AJ Silberman-Moffitt of Tandem

I have a migraine

Personally, I think a severe migraine is one of the best excuses to leave early. To say no to someone who has a splitting headache would be cruel. For added effect, say that you are having trouble concentrating because of the bright lights and loud noises. These are well-documented aggravating factors for migraines.

— Timothy Allen of Corporate Investigation Consulting

I have to see the doctor

For the most believable excuse to miss work, I would go with a doctor’s appointment. It’s not something that is too obvious and can easily be verified by your employer (if they choose to). This is also a good excuse because it is plausible and can be used in many situations.

— Nina Neuschuetz of BOSTONtec

I have stuff to do during business hours

To be honest, I think this is a problem faced by many who work regular hours. Many government and public offices are only open during standard business hours. It might be difficult for full-time workers to take time off to meet with a mortgage lender or visit a car dealer. To get these things done, it’s occasionally necessary to leave a little early. However, you shouldn’t make this a regular occurrence.

— Adam Wood of RevenueGeeks

I’m dizzy…and nauseated

In order to sneak out of work early without raising any eyebrows, all you need is a stomachache and some bathroom issues. Simply explain to your manager that you have to leave early so you can go to the bathroom, and you will likely be excused.

— Shakzod Khabibov of Natura Market

I’m getting internet installed/upgraded/repaired

This one shows up on our list of the best reasons to work from home, too.

Understandably, you’d need to leave work early to deal with internet and cable installation. Network installation often takes place during business hours, so you’ll need to be at home. Don’t try to pull a fast one on your supervisor by asking to leave early from work; let him or her know a few days in advance.

— Tyler Seeger of Retirement Being

I’m getting married

The day of the couple’s wedding is the most significant day of their lives. It is reasonable to expect that you will need time to prepare for this major event. It’s fine to ask for time off, but you should let your manager know a few days in advance so you can make plans to get everything done at work. Never invent an excuse; this one must be used honestly and only when it applies.

— Sai Blackbyrn of Coach Foundation

I must face my landlord

You can say that they are complaining about your dog being rowdy, and something must be wrong, so you must check it. Or maybe they’re afraid a pipe on the property burst. You can come back the next day saying it was a false alarm.

— Zachary Colman of Creatitive

I’ve got school

If your work really cares about your success as an employee, then any chance you have to develop your skills should be taken seriously. If you signed up for online or in-person classes for skill development, or even for a hobby like learning a new language, then you should be able to leave work early to attend. These skills can be invaluable for some businesses, and if they want their employees to have expertise in multiple areas, then they shouldn’t be too concerned about them leaving work early.

— Daniel Climans of StickerYou

Leaking pipes

“My neighbor called and told me that my pipes broke.” This one is risky because so many people use it. In reality, you’ll need to use your acting chops for this. Keep close to the exit; appearing panicked to your boss is crucial at this point. As you explain your reasoning, you should already be leaving. It can be a stretch to sell if you’re working from home, but it will assist if you employ a frightened tone in a video conversation.

— Kenny Kline of BarBend

Home maintenance and upkeep

A home emergency like the fire alarm going off or a water leak in the basement is definitely a valid reason to leave work early. Anything that requires immediate attention would be seen as important enough to leave the office before the end of the day.

— Anthony Martin of Choice Mutual

My sciatica is flaring up

Sciatica was one of my strongest justifications for leaving the office early in the past. Sciatica is a disorder that hurts the legs and lower back. Most of the time, I used this excuse to get out of work early.

— nicole pav of Nccuttingtools

Personal emergency

You can always say you have to take care of a personal emergency. If this is truly the case, make sure to explain the situation to your boss before you leave. They’ll likely understand and let you go. It’s not uncommon for personal emergencies to crop up from time to time, and you may need to leave work early to take care of them. In this case, it’s best to be honest with your boss about the situation and provide any necessary documentation to support your need to leave work early.

— Jimmy Huh of JH SEO

Porch pirate prevention

Some packages require a signature, so you’ll need to be there to receive them. In my opinion, getting a delivery is a valid excuse to leave work early. Explain to your superiors when they can expect the shipment and have them sign an acceptance form. Keep in mind that she may ask you to arrange for future deliveries to be made to the office so you won’t miss more work.

— Bram Jansen of VPNAlert

Sick family member

I think this one will make sense to most bosses. You can leave work early with little notice if you say you have to take care of a sick child. You can even utilize it after you’ve already begun your workday. All you have to do is apologize and say, “My kid is unwell. There is no one else who can look after her.”

— James R, of Skuuudle

Someone died

Taking time off from work in order to deal with the loss of a loved one will be necessary. You will want to leave work early at the very least to attend the burial, and the majority of supervisors will be understanding if you explain the situation to them. The passing of a loved one is an occurrence that is frequently sudden, and it requires your immediate attention.

— Daen Lee of Sealions

Taking care of my pet

I believe your pet’s sudden illness is a valid justification. Many people consider their pets to be members of their family, so when one of them gets sick, it can cause a lot of stress and make it impossible to continue working. It could take some time to get your pet in for a checkup at the vet. As a result, many employers are willing to accommodate such requests for time off.

— Tim Parker of Syntax Integration

Unexplained illness (stomach flu edition)

If you feel sick but can’t put your finger on what’s wrong, your supervisor will probably let you take the day off. Make it look like you have the flu or something equally contagious, so they’ll let you go to avoid spreading it around the office.

— Irene Graham of Spylix

Volunteering at an important event

One unique excuse to leave work early could be to volunteer for a charity or attend an important community event. It could be a great way to give back to the community and help make a difference. It’s something that a lot of employers would be willing to consider.

— Ada Scott of EaseUS

 

Want to see some other ideas?

About the author

Henry OLoughlin

Hi, I'm the founder of Buildremote. I have worked from home for a decade and ran a fully remote, four-day work week company for eight years. I've made all of the mistakes running a distributed team. I hope if you read my work, you'll be spared.

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