Companies are getting better at providing time off when employees need it, but usually that provision is tied to forewarning. But anyone who’s ever been a worker bee knows that sometimes you just need to take a day.
So, how do workers score a coveted day off without planning for it weeks in advance? We dug through some earlier posts about leaving work early, missing work, and reasons to work from home to find some good excuses to miss work on short notice. We’ve broken them down into three categories: last-minute examples that almost never fail, notifications you can condense into a quick text message, and…well, some funny ones.
Some will work right out of the box, while others, as stated, probably aren’t entirely safe to use on a boss who may be lacking in the humor department.
Excuses To Call Out Of Work: Last-Minute Examples
- Have a fever (and I’m contagious)
- Home maintenance and upkeep
- I’m getting internet installed/upgraded
- I must face my landlord
- Jury duty
- New puppy
- Not 100% me
- Porch pirate prevention
- Religious celebration
- Death of beloved gerbil
- Gotta pick up the kids
Last-Minute Excuses: Text Message Edition
- Car maintenance
- Death of a loved one
- Family emergency
- Food poisoning
- I have COVID
- I have a migraine
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- My kid is sick
- My pet is sick
- My sciatica is flaring up
- The 24-hour flu
- Unexplained illness
Humorous Excuses For Missing Work Last Minute
- Alarm never went off (zombie plague edition)
- Appointment with a career counselor
- Dogs and shoes
- Don’t want to get dressed
- Misplaced car keys
The Full List Of Excuses To Miss Work On Short Notice
Below, we’ve provided extended versions of the quick excuses discussed above. Use them wisely!
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
Alarm never went off
My alarm didn’t go off when the power went out last night, and now I have to take away everything in my refrigerator before something mutates and I’m completely to blame for the first-ever zombie outbreak.
– Paul Somerville of Electric Scooter Guide
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
Death of your beloved gerbil
The best humorous excuse to work from home is to claim that your pet gerbil died, leaving you heartbroken and in desperate need of some quality time at home to mourn its loss. You and your gerbil had grand plans to drive across the country and, in its absence, you feel compelled to embark on this journey in memory of your gerbil. How could any manager deny you such a heartfelt and legitimate reason to work remotely during your now solo travels?
– Bryan Driscoll of Bryan J Driscoll JD LLC
Death of a loved one
The death of a loved one, whether they be a family or a friend, is difficult. Taking time off from work and other responsibilities to grieve is understandable. It’s important to give your employer as much advance notice as possible so they can prepare for your absence. Some companies have bereavement policies that allow workers to temporarily step away from their jobs without jeopardizing their employment.
— Josh Thill of THRIVE ENGINE
It can be hilarious, but diarrhea is self-diagnosed, and you don’t always need to get to a hospital. Don’t worry, the HR department won’t ask for any proof — and you can get better at home.
— Lauri Kinkar of Messente
Dogs and shoes
I have an old dog who’s depressed and won’t eat anything other than my shoes when I’m not in. I don’t earn enough money to buy new shoes all the time. Without shoes, I can’t go to work, so I have to work from home.
– Colin Palfrey of Crediful
Don’t want to get dressed
I’m pretty sure the best excuse to work from home is “I’m too lazy to get dressed.” I mean, why bother putting on real clothes when you can just stay in your PJs all day? Plus, you’re way more productive when you’re comfortable, right? And if your boss tries to argue with you, just tell them that you’re saving the company money by not having to buy a wardrobe full of business clothes. Seriously, it’s a win-win!
– Inez Stanway of LiveLaughCreate
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 She Cooks She Eats
Food poisoning, as most people understand it, is characterized by episodes of vomiting and diarrhea in addition to general unpleasantness. Nobody is going to ask you any questions about this, and the vast majority of the time, you won’t even need to visit the doctor for it. Get as much Gatorade as you can.
— Tia Campbell of Practice Reasoning Tests
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
Have a fever (and I’m contagious)
You don’t want to infect your coworkers, so it’s better for you to stay home and rest. Stay in touch with your supervisor and let them know how you’re feeling and when you expect to be back at work.
– Luke Fitzpatrick of Drsono
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
I have COVID
Even if you don’t feel sick, you could still be spreading the COVID virus. Consider CDC, municipal, and workplace rules, as well as your vaccination status, before coming into the office if you or someone close to you has tested positive. When determining your time of work return, you should also consider these suggestions.
— Michael Hess of Code Signing Store
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’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 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
Irritable bowel syndrome
The stress of working life is a common cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Working from home gives you easy access to your favorite restroom, and there’s no one there to judge you for your frequent trips. It’s a great excuse, as no one wants someone in the office breaking wind all the time!
– Alex Trevatt of Medistudents
Jury duty to the rescue. You can simply excuse yourself and ask for some leniency on the day. It’s your responsibility as a citizen to become a juror and give your verdict on a case. It’s an excuse everyone can relate to, and you’ll get work from home.
– Fraser Matthews of Netcoins
Misplaced car keys
If you don’t want to take the all-too-common route of saying you have a doctor’s appointment, this is the next best excuse. It’s quite believable and you may even get a chuckle or two out of your supervisors, making it a lighthearted excuse to stay home without having to worry your team about your health.
– Harry Morton of Lower Street
My kid is sick
As a single parent, relying on school and care outside of school hours to mind your child is essential, particularly when you are employed full-time. At times when grandparents are unable to provide care, taking a day off work to care for a sick child is really the only option.
— Mark Jimenez of Sensible Dollar
My pet is sick
Emergency appointments for pets due to a major illness are an acceptable excuse to miss work. Pets can’t take care of themselves; in an emergency, it is necessary for the owner to take some time off to properly take care of the pet. Depending on the circumstances, everything from a clean-up to treatment and transporting the pet to the veterinarian may be necessary.
— Shirley Borg of Energy Casino
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
A great excuse to work from home is if you recently added a fur family member to your household. Puppies need a lot of attention in the beginning. You need to be home to help it adjust to its new environment and start the bonding process!
– Christian Kjaer of ElleVet Sciences
Not “100% me” today
With the rise of mental health prioritization and well-being, offices should normalize the idea of not being at your best every day. If you’re feeling off or down, it’s perfectly acceptable to work from home. In fact, it might even be encouraged by your company in order to avoid putting yourself in a difficult or uncomfortable situation.
– Sarah Watson of BPTLAB
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
Even if your company doesn’t observe the holiday, you should be free to practice your religion. Any religious holiday is indeed a great justification for taking time off of work, and you shouldn’t face harassment because of it. Ask for a day in advance, give it the attention it needs, and have faith that your employer will take care of business without you.
– Adrian Paul of NC CuttingTools
The 24-hour flu
This one is great because it can be used again and again. You can even get your coworkers sick so they have to take a day off too!
– Ed Shway of ByteXD
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
You need a mental health day
Taking a day off to focus on one’s own well-being is essential at times. Maybe you’ve been working too much or spending too much time at home, and you need a break to get some rest, do some chores, or just unwind. It’s entirely acceptable to need a day for oneself. A day off won’t cure your mental health issues, but giving yourself some extra time off will help you recharge so that you can be there for yourself and your job in a better way.
— Tia Campbell of Practice Reasoning Tests
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