You may occasionally need to leave work early. We wanted to know what others in this position had done, so we asked our list of contributors for good excuses to leave work early.
Their 19 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.
1. 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
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
3. Sick child or 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.
4. 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
5. Doctor’s appointment
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
6. Illness (stomach flu)
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
7. 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
8. Attending an industry 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
9. 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
10. 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
11. 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
12. 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
13. 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
14. 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
15. 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
16. 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
17. Package arriving that needs a signature
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
18. 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
19. 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
Want to see some other ideas?