30 Good Excuses to Leave Work Early (on Short Notice)

Your attendance at your job is essential for productivity. You’re an asset to your company. Still, you will need a sick day, a vacation day, or even the odd afternoon off occasionally.

The reasons vary. It can be because you’re supervising your home remodeling project, or you may need time to prepare for an important event. 

According to Tight Fist Finance, “your explanation doesn’t have to include personal details. For example, you don’t have to explain a chronic medical condition you have.”

Before making your request, consider your company’s culture. Other things to remember are workplace policies and your habits and history. Your boss will likely grant your request without complaining if you’re a model employee.

Do you have poor habits such as skipping work regularly? Do you practice chronic lateness? Unless you have a pressing reason for leaving the office early, your boss will deny it.

Here are some appropriate reasons to head home early and how to request this time:

30 Best Excuses to Leave Work Early on Short Notice


1. A Pounding Headache

An excruciating migraine is one of the most credible personal reasons for leaving early.

You can always use it to head home early. Who could refuse someone who is complaining of a pounding headache?

Mention that you’re having difficulty doing your job with the noise and lights for further impact. These are two known factors that make an agonizing migraine even worse.

2. Upset Stomach

The last thing your employer may want is for you to stay at work when you have an upset stomach.

This is never a good idea. What if it’s a severe gastrointestinal issue, and you’re contagious?!

Your bosses will not want an outbreak in the office. Or, if you do food service work, such an illness can be detrimental.

They will prefer to deal with only one absence (yours), even if it means you will be on sick leave for a few days. It is a foolproof excuse of leaving work early

3. Sudden Illness

“I’m not feeling hot” is an acceptable excuse to leave work early. You don’t need to give a detailed story on why you’re not feeling well.

A simple statement such as “I’m not feeling well, I need to go home” will suffice. If your boss presses you, the tried-and-true excuses will work.

For example, you can use the “upset stomach” excuse or the “severe pain” one. Both are valid reasons because personal illness is a part of life.

You could have eaten something that didn’t sit well with you during the day.

4. Medical Appointment

You can’t always schedule a medical appointment on your day off. In fact, getting a notification that there’s an opening can be nerve-racking.

You must scramble to take advantage of the opportunity then and there.

Your medical professional may be in high demand, so you might need to book your doctor’s appointment months in advance!


5. Other Important Appointments

This is a common challenge for people whose working hours are 9 to 5.

Many government and public offices are only open during normal work hours. Meeting with a mortgage lender or going to an auto dealer is often a struggle for full-time employees.

Leaving a bit early to work on these life tasks is sometimes necessary. Don’t make it a habit, though.

6. Family emergency

Car accidents and childbirth fall under “family emergency.” So do mental health issues.

Any reason to seek immediate medical attention is good enough. If your boss is not a medical professional, she must trust your discretion on this one.

If he doesn’t, a doctor’s note should suffice. Family emergency covers parents, grandparents, children, and siblings.

7. Illness of a Family Member

Most bosses will understand this one. Saying that you need to take care of a sick child is one of the good excuses to leave work early on short notice.

You can even use it after you’ve already started your workday. All it takes is for you to say, “I’m so sorry, but my daughter is sick. Nobody else is available to care for her.” 

8. Illness of Your Pet

The sudden illness of your pet can be a good excuse. People treat their pets as part of the family, and the illness of a dog or cat can make you too distraught to work.

You may also need time to bring your pet to the vet. Many bosses understand when it comes to granting time off for this purpose.


9. Home Emergency

Emergencies can happen at home, and you may need to leave work early to manage them.

For example, what if your son calls to alert you that there’s a home invasion in progress? It leaves you with no choice. It might be tempting to brush your employers off if they call to check up on you.

Instead, remain courteous. Depending on the home emergency, you may need to request more time off.

10. Death of a Loved One

Dealing with the loss of a loved one will mean taking time off work. You’ll at least want to leave work early to attend the funeral service.

Most bosses will understand the situation once you explain it to them. Death is an often unexpected event that will demand your attention immediately.

11. Guests Arriving Early

Your boss should be able to relate to this one. They will understand your situation and cooperate with you.

After all, you can’t very well leave your out-of-town guests waiting at the airport or the train station! 


12. Driving a Relative to or from the Airport

Bosses understand the need to give family members a ride. It brings out the “do-gooder” in us. Yes, they can take a taxi, but family members deserve more than that, right?

13. Busted Pipes

“My neighbor called, and the pipes broke in my apartment/house.” This one is a risky play since so many people use it.

In fact, it calls for some acting skills. Stick by the door because the important factor here is to be in a panic when you tell your employer.

Be already walking away as you give them your reason. It can be a stretch to sell if you’re working from home, but it will help if you use a panicked tone on a video call.

14. Other Home Maintenance

Having a house comes with endless benefits. Many Americans dream of homeownership.

Imagine sacrificing to build a home and then not having the time to take care of the investment!

Remember that the less time you spend caring for the house, the greater the potential for value loss. That’s a good reason to go home early to take care of those repairs!


15. You Have Contractors Coming to Your Home

If your boss thinks you should do home maintenance on the weekend, here’s another great excuse.

Tell him you have contractors coming to fix something at your house. It’s an excellent excuse because, chances are your contractor does not work on weekends.

A good boss always cares for his staff, so he will unlikely refuse you a couple of hours to sort that out.

16. You Have a Delivery

You need to accept some packages in person and sign for them.

Having a delivery is one of the acceptable reasons to leave work early. Tell your boss the estimated delivery time and tell her you must sign to accept.

Note that she might ask you to have future deliveries shipped to the office so you won’t have to miss work again.


17. Bad Weather

a bad weather forecast is one of the best excuses for leaving work early. Is there a storm or hurricane brewing in your area?

You won’t have to ask – management will send you home earlier. Some adverse conditions may call for you to request time off, though.

For example, there might be landslides or flooding in your area that your boss might not know about.

18. No Babysitter (or Daycare)

It is reasonable that you may need to leave work early to take care of your child if you are a mother or a father.

Parenting always has a schedule of its own. Everyone, including your boss, knows that we have family commitments. Done sparingly, it’s a great excuse to get out of work fast.

If you continue to have childcare issues, speak with your manager and develop a plan that works for both of you.

It’s a vital step when you need to have a special arrangement to care for your children.

19. Networking or Business Event

You may need time off for professional reasons as well. Do you need to attend conventions or industry events?

Do you take part in the local chamber of commerce meetings? These are common excuses to leave work early, but they’re all valid.

Your employer will value this time off. Why? Because you’re using it to network with potential business partners.


You may have an outing with an important customer. Or you may need to travel to meet with one early the next day.

Taking time off to prepare shows that you care about your company’s business and success.

21. Professional Development

It is always important to improve your abilities and skills. It’s vital to develop yourself.

You can become more effective in your role by improving yourself. Many employers support their employees when they take part in seminars and workshops.

It often means leaving work early to attend. These events usually take place during business hours.

22. Personal Problem

Don’t want to go into details? Put on a sad face and say you have a personal problem.

People will feel uncomfortable about prying if you’re vague. So act as if you’re reluctant to give details.

23. Self-Care

You may need to leave early to rest, especially if you’ve been working overtime. Use it whenever you’re feeling run down.

Taking breaks when you can is essential because overtime can take a toll on your health.


Be sure to talk to your boss if you work too much overtime. Ask for permission to leave early if necessary.

24. You Want to Take Advantage of Good Weather

Do you work in an office without natural light? You may need to go outside and get some sun.

Depending on where you live, you might only get sunshine 30%-40% of the time.

You’ll want to make the most of the good weather by walking or taking your children to the park. 

25. Community or Religious Obligation

Community involvement can aid your work-life balance. It can also boost morale.

For instance, if you are part of a nonprofit, your employer may allow you to leave early to participate in a food drive.

Religious practices are also good reasons for leaving work early. Let your employer know that attending such an event is vital to your spiritual practice.

26. Significant Family Events

We all know how important it is to be at our daughter’s first play or our son’s soccer match. Being absent from such events is a loss for the parents.

But it also leaves children devastated – more than we know. Work should not prevent us from attending significant family events.

27. Car Trouble

Do you need to get your car repaired and must go to an auto shop? It’s essential to tell your boss that you need to leave work sooner than usual.

Most employers will agree to let you take the afternoon off to get your vehicle serviced. Being away from work is acceptable to get your car fixed or serviced.

Your employer is unlikely to see it as an abuse of privileges.


28. Car or Other Accidents

These events are legitimate reasons for sudden leave. No employer will deny you time off, especially if they result in serious injuries.

They will give you time to attend to the well-being of your child, spouse, or other loved one. You’ll also need time to deal with any details in the accident’s aftermath. 

29. Unexpected Circumstances Out of Your Control

This one is anything that stops you from going to work that you couldn’t have known you would need to plan around.

The bus may have broken down, delayed your flight, or any other random circumstance.

These circumstances are rare, so don’t overuse this excuse.

30. Zoned Out

You can be honest and say you’re zoned out and stressed and you can’t concentrate on your work.

Your employer won’t want to keep you because you could mess things up if you’re in that state.

Remember that it’s courteous to offer to make up for those hours later. Another option is to work from home to complete your assignments as soon as you feel better.

Excuses to Leave Work Early When Working from Home

There are far fewer reasons to leave work early when working from home. Getting into the office means walking down the hallway from your bedroom.

Still, calling in sick when working from home sometimes becomes necessary. Some days, you’re too ill to leave your bed.

If you’re feeling that bad, what you may need is rest. So, let your manager know you’re feeling unwell.


A significant amount of employees have reported a less-than-ideal work-from-home setup.

Bosses message them after hours, and workers feel pressured throughout the day. Focusing on total hours logged can stress both you and your boss.

Instead, we should opt for flexibility in work arrangements. Our focus should be on output over total hours logged.

This shift is essential. Studies have shown that staying too long at work can lead to health problems.

Job Interview

One of the best excuses to leave work early when working from home is if you have to interview for a new job.


FlexJobs states, “You never know how long your interview might take or if your prospective boss might want you to interview with other team members on the spot.

To give yourself enough of a time cushion without worrying about your current boss needing something from you ASAP, it might be worth it to call off work instead.”

Wi-Fi Issues

Yet another excuse is saying, “my Wi-Fi went out.” You can engineer this one by leaving your camera off for the morning’s first call.

Then, tell the other people on the call that your Wi-Fi is finicky. Then say your Wi-Fi crashed after that call, but you’ve called a technician to fix it.

You must not use your hot spot unless the company pays for your phone plan. Even better for you, it might be a problem that the technicians can’t fix in one day.

Gas Leak

A gas leak is another excuse to leave early when working from home. A leak in your plumbing can make your living conditions uncomfortable and cause damage to the structure of your home.

In comparison, a gas leak can destroy everything you’ve worked for and even cause death. You won’t be able to work from home if you have a gas leak.


It’s not something to fool around with, and no one in their right mind will challenge it.

Menstrual Cramps

You can also use menstrual cramps as one of your excuses to leave work early when working from home.

It’s one of the most appropriate excuses to leave work early if you’re a woman. It doesn’t matter if you’re still working from home or returned to the office.

It’s sure to get you home quickly. Most employers don’t want to hear about health issues related to menstruation. Save it for occasional use, though. 

How to Ask Your Boss to Leave Early?

It’s essential to submit a request to cut your work shift short. It allows your manager to prepare for your absence because she may have to ask another employee to fill in for you.

It also promotes a good relationship with your manager. With her approval, you can leave work early.

There’s no need to worry about facing disciplinary action. Here is some guidance on how to leave work early with your boss’ permission.

You need to be professional when making your request to leave work early. It’s very much like calling in sick for work.

The format you use will depend on your working environment. You can call your employer or drop by his office if you’ve returned to the physical workplace.

Or, send an email or arrange a virtual meeting to notify your boss about your request.

This option is necessary if you’re working remotely from home or elsewhere.

Requesting Time Off Via Email

You may also want to send your request by email if your boss is the intimidating type. Here’s what your email can look like:

Hi, [Boss’ Name]

I request your permission to leave work early [date and time]. I have an urgent situation with [brief description of the problem and why it’s so important]. Please understand that I’m asking because I have no other option. To compensate, I can [work longer, take up an extra shift, or any different idea you have].

Thanks for your attention,

[Your Name]

Remember that some bosses feel that email communication is rude and, at best, impersonal.

Know your boss’ style and what he prefers. If video call or face-to-face works better for him, then do that. I

f they like phone calls, then use that medium. Face-to-face communication is much more effective if you have an emergency.

It’s vital if you need to discuss a larger underlying problem.

Choosing Your Moment

According to Algrim.com, “Choose a moment when you can ask your boss a specific question and obtain a clear response…

For example, approaching your boss during a calm period can be more beneficial than coming to him just before an important meeting.” 


It’s also important to be realistic. Are you being reasonable about the time you want to leave? Also, please give them a decent reason.

Don’t act entitled or be too casual about it, even if you’re friends with the boss. Don’t beg, either.

Explain why you need to leave and hope your boss says yes. I believe this favor is one you should not ask for too often.

The last hour before you leave might be your busiest. You may need to make the necessary arrangements to find someone to complete the work that needs to be finished for you.

You might also have to scramble to complete other duties so your desk won’t be chaotic the next day.

We’ve given you 30 good excuses to leave work early (even when working from home).

We’ve also shown you how to ask your boss to leave early.

If you’re still in a quandary, ask an experienced worker to tell you how they’ve handled requests for time off.

Don’t ever let others discourage you from taking time off. You’ve earned it, which may be one of your entitlements. 

Finally, don’t make firm plans before asking for the time. Always be respectful and reasonable. Your boss will be much more inclined to honor your request to leave work early.