If you need to miss work, including on short notice, this article will give you 9 best excuses to do so.
Calling away from work doesn’t have to be difficult, but if you give the wrong reason, it can leave your boss suspicious of you and may even get you fired in some states.
So keep reading for 9 sensible excuses to miss work, even at the last minute.
9 good excuses to stop working
1. You are sick
Saying you feel sick is one of the best excuses to miss work. The company/manager will not want you in the office if you are sick and possibly contagious.
Not only that, but since it takes at least a day or two to recover from a typical illness, this is a surefire way to get off work for at least a full day (whereas, if you say you have a dentist appointment, your boss will likely ask, “What time is the appointment, and can you come next?”)
Telling your boss that you are sick is one of the simplest and best ways to miss work on short notice due to the above factors.
Use our sick day email templates to request a hassle-free day off.
Just be aware if you call in sick, some particularly strict/old-fashioned employers may want you to have a doctor’s note as proof of illness upon your return.
And if you have a bad boss or company, they may still pressure you to come in. If you have this concern, or have tried this excuse for losing work in the past and have run into trouble, keep reading for more ideas…
2. You are caring for a sick child or a family member
Besides calling in sick, there’s another equally good excuse to take a day or more off: caring for a sick child or family member.
These are good reasons to miss a work day and qualify as an emergency that most employers understand.
Saying you need to take care of a sick child is one of the best excuses to use at the last minute, including the same day your shift.
You can simply call and say, “I’m sorry but my child is feeling sick and there is no one else who can take care of him in such a short time. I will need to take one day to deal with this emergency and be back to work tomorrow.”
Family emergencies happen and most employers will understand and sympathize when you call in sick for a medical reason.
If you’re not comfortable using health as a reason to stop working, keep reading for more ideas and excuses…
3. You have a family emergency
A family emergency is one of the best reasons to call abroad because you usually won’t have many follow-up questions and you won’t have to go into a lot of detail.
The typical boss will quickly accept this excuse to be absent from work without much questioning or doubt. They might not even ask when you’ll be able to come back and say instead, “Just tell me if you’re able to come tomorrow.”
However, one of the downsides to using this excuse to be absent from work is that you will almost certainly be asked if the situation has improved once you return to work. Just don’t forget what you said when you called, so you won’t be surprised when your boss later asks, “How did the family emergency end? Is everything all right now?”
Other than that, this is a good and reliable excuse that you can tell your boss to be absent from work, even at short notice.
4. You have food poisoning
Usually, you don’t want to be too specific when you say you’re sick as an excuse to miss work. You don’t need to fake coughing sounds, be dramatic, or give too much detail.
However, an additional detail you can provide is to say that you think you have food poisoning.
This is one of the most legitimate and most believable excuses to miss work, especially on the day of your shift, because most people realize how dangerous and unexpected food poisoning can be.
So if you need to be absent from work on short notice and don’t want to face pressure from your boss to show up, this is a good reason that is almost guaranteed to put you off work for a day. However, they will probably expect you to come in the next day, or at most two days later.
So, this is not a good excuse to use if you need to be absent from work for more than two days, but it is a good reason to be absent from work for a day.
5. You have a migraine
Migraines are another good excuse to miss a full day of work with only a small chance that you’ll be asked about it, because most managers know how dangerous a migraine can be.
And unlike making up another medical issue or saying you have a doctor’s appointment, you don’t have to tell your boss a detailed story or follow through with lies when you get back to the office.
Migraines usually go away eventually, with or without treatment, so you can simply go to work the next day and say, “I feel so much better, thank you” if someone asks.
For the reasons mentioned above, a migraine is a good excuse to miss work, especially at short notice.
If your boss asks or doubts you at all, just say that you can barely look at the light and that you’re lying in the dark right now while making that phone call.
If you can barely get up or look at the light, employers will know you can’t do your job.
So they will likely accept that excuse and simply tell you to get back to work as soon as possible.
6. You need to take care of a sick pet
Pets also provide good reasons to miss work, but that’s not an excuse you should use regularly. However, if it is used only once, it can be a good reason to lose business.
To use this excuse, simply tell the employer that your pet is not feeling well and that you will need to go to an emergency vet appointment or stay with them while they are given medication.
7. You have a last minute dentist or doctor appointment
Next on the list of excuses for being absent from work is a visit to the doctor or dentist.
While these reasons will put you out of business on short notice, they may leave your boss asking why you didn’t tell them sooner, and perhaps asking for a doctor’s note or other evidence of the appointment.
This depends on your employer.
However, a dental problem or an emergency medical problem comes up, and sometimes you notice something that worries you and you want to be checked out ASAP.
So you should be fine by saying:
“There is something I urgently need to take a look at and my doctor/dentist canceled at the last minute and offered me an appointment today.”
I’ve had employers in the past where I knew they trusted me completely, and this would be an easy way out of the business, just like all of the excuses above.
However, if you have a less confident employer and you think they will ask follow-up questions, you may be better off using other excuses to stop working instead.
8. You are having a problem with the car
If you depend on your car to get to work, you can say that you are having a problem with the car and are waiting for someone to check it out.
However, you may encounter follow-up questions like, “Can you take the bus? We really need you here today.”
This is best if there is no other way to get into the workplace, and if you only need to be absent from work for one day. After a day, your boss may start pressuring you to find an alternative means of transportation.
Of course, if you have an easy-to-work boss and a job that can be done from home, they might let you work from home all week while you repair your car.
It all depends on your boss and your specific job, so you’ll need to use your best judgment when deciding whether to use this or other excuse when calling for a layoff.
9. You have a home problem
You can also say that there is a problem with the house that requires you to stay at home. For example, you could say you have a leaking water pipe and need to keep it close at hand until the repairman is done.
Or you can say you are expecting an important delivery and the courier company said you need to sign the package in person today.
These are all good reasons why you can’t go to work without having to talk about health or other personal excuses.
So if you’re more comfortable this way, this is another acceptable excuse to stop working.
However, there is one thing to keep in mind here: Your manager may ask you to explain why you didn’t tell them about this sooner. You could say you told them as soon as you found out, but just think about whether it’s realistic before using that reason to stay home.
Can you say you feel tired as an excuse to miss work?
While more and more companies are accepting the idea of a mental health day without a specific reason or emergency, this excuse is best if requested a day or two in advance.
General fatigue is not one of the best reasons to miss work on the day of your shift, because it will leave your boss wondering why you didn’t plan ahead and communicate better.
I’ve had terrible jobs myself, and I understand the panic feeling in the morning when you’re simply confused and want to call. However, I recommend using one of the excuses above if you are going to stop working at the last minute.
It is better to take a sick day than to take a mental health day if you are given short notice.
Save the Personal Day or Mental Health Day when you can request it at least a day or two in advance.
Is it a bad sign when you make excuses to miss work?
Everyone misses work from time to time and that’s not necessarily a bad sign that you need to take an unexpected day off.
However, if you fail to inform the employer early enough and cause difficulties such as scheduling problems, it may cause your boss to become upset.
You shouldn’t feel bad about telling your employer that you need a day off with any of the above reasons, but give them as much notice as possible and don’t be so common.
Could you get fired for calling while you’re sick?
In many states, work is seen as done “at will,” which means your employer can technically fire you for calling in sick. Despite this, each state provides different rights for employees. No matter where you live, your employer is unlikely to fire you for a sick day or your occasional call from work.
Bad excuses and mistakes: What not to say when sick
If you read everything above, you now have many good excuses to miss out on work.
In conclusion, here are some mistakes to avoid and bad reasons to stop working.
First, you never want to say anything that indicates that you failed to plan ahead or that you didn’t tell them right away.
Don’t give a reason that seems like something you would have known days ago.
Always think to yourself what an excuse looks like before calling in a short time. Ask yourself, “Does this look realistic that I only discovered at the last minute?”
If not, pick a different excuse to stay home.
The other big mistake to avoid is over-explaining. You don’t need to share every detail when you explain why you can’t take on your work for a day.
If you say you have a sick child, you don’t need to share every symptom as proof that he or she is unwell.
If you’re going to say you’re sick, there’s no need to try to cough on the phone or look miserable. Just be clear and direct, provide the general excuse/reason you would use to miss work, then stop talking and see how your boss responds.
When you call away from work, it’s often better to say less. Choose one of the reasons from the list above to recall, briefly explain it, and then just stop.
Even the best excuses can be spoiled by talking too much or continuing to “sell” your story after your boss is already unwell.
So stop talking and let them respond once the basics are explained.
Conclusion: valid excuses for being absent from work
We all need to get out of work at the last minute sometimes.
If you use one of the above excuses and tell your manager succinctly and directly that you won’t be able to come to work that day, you will give yourself the best chance of having a day off without any doubt or consequences.
To make the process smoother, call or email your employer as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the last minute if you can help her.
And remember to be prepared for any follow-up questions when you go back to work and meet your manager. One or two follow-up questions doesn’t mean your boss is suspicious; It simply means that they care enough to verify that you are doing better now.