20 Acceptable Excuses to Miss Work

No, your pet rock dying isn’t one of them.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Worker thinking of good and bad excuses to get out of work

From time to time, we all need excuses to miss work. Some common excuses to miss work on short notice might be frequent, such as illnesses or injuries or transport related issues, whereas some are more serious and might happen only a few times in a lifetime at most, such as death of loved ones or floods.

When requesting a day off from your manager, it’s important to be aware of what excuses are considered acceptable and genuine. This article covers 20 of the most common and understood excuses to get out of work, as well as reasons why workplaces are inclined to accept them.

1. Illness

No matter how healthy you are, we all need to make use of sick days occasionally. Most illnesses only take hold for a few days, but during this time, it’s important to stay at home to get some rest while your body recovers, as well as to ensure your colleagues don’t catch what you have. Illnesses can cover mental health days as well.

2. Family emergency

A family emergency is something that happens to many of us and might mean that we cannot work because of either being impacted by what’s happened or a need to deal with the results. Typical family emergencies can include illness or death in the family, helping a family member with a crisis, or simply being there for support.

3. Moving house

Moving house is a disruptive and long process that is a valid excuse for time away from work, especially when you’re moving for work. You’ll need to deal with realtors, key handovers that are often time-sensitive, removal firms, and redecorating. If you try and juggle all these balls while at work, you won’t be performing at your best.

4. Pet-related issues

A sick or lost pet, or one that has sadly passed away, requires your urgent and immediate attention. The situation can be harrowing and stressful, and represents an acceptable excuse to not go into work. Most pet emergencies are resolved quickly, but some might take more time and require significant time spent at home, especially if your pet is lost.

5. Accidents

Like illnesses, accidents are good excuses for time off work, and many can be caused because of something that happened at work. Whatever happens, your employer should give you time off to recover and heal. Some injuries take a long time for this to happen and might require repeat visits to physiotherapists or medical professionals.

6. Gas leak

A gas leak is a serious situation that requires you to call out of work to be present at or near the leak until a gas repair person comes to fix it. Gas leaks can be deadly and damaging to your home, so leaving for work and having the leak unsupervised until someone arrives is incredibly dangerous.

7. Sick child

An unwell child is a bulletproof excuse for time off work. Often, if a child is unwell, one parent will need to remain at home while the child is recovering, and this time away from work is completely unavoidable and acceptable. Sick children will need your constant attention, so working from home is rarely an alternative solution.

8. Bad weather

Inclement weather can present significant issues for coming to work, especially if you live in a remote area. Bad weather, such as snow or storms, can block roads, sever communication lines and, in some cases, necessitate you proactively looking after your house to ensure damage doesn’t occur.

9. Car problems

Car problems offer a good excuse to get out of work. If your job is dependent on your car, then you won’t be able to work if it has broken down. You can get a courtesy car or rental car but often these take a day or two to arrange.

10. No internet

A common challenge for people who work remotely, an internet drop out is often unavoidable and can mean that you physically cannot work, especially as so many files are now accessed with cloud-based systems. An internet outage at work might also mean that you will have an excuse to leave work early.

11. Death of a loved one

A loved one passing away is often one of the most urgent reasons for time off work. In addition to time to mourn their loss, you might need time off to help with funeral arrangements, dealing with lawyers, and being there for grieving friends and family.

12. Allergies

People have little control over their allergies, and these typically present themselves when they least expect it. Some allergies mean that you might be physically unable to undertake your job and this, therefore, presents an acceptable excuse for getting out of work.

13. Transport issues

In addition to car trouble, issues with public transport can also mean an excuse to get off work. Trains not working, transport staff strikes, and even a puncture on your bicycle can all mean that you’re unable to get to work. Even if you tried, the inevitable delays might mean that you would need to arrive late and leave early.

14. Religious holiday

In many jurisdictions, time off for religious holidays is a right protected by law. These holidays can be infrequent or flexible and very important for you to stay close to your faith and have time with family and friends and space to worship or pray. Therefore, these celebrations are very credible reasons for time off work.

15. School/childcare canceled

If schooling or childcare has been canceled (for example, due to illness or industrial action), there isn’t much you can do about this. Like time off for a sick child, time off for childcare is important and unavoidable, and a reason that all employers should be empathetic towards.

16. Dental emergencies

Dental appointments are a bulletproof excuse to get out of work on short notice. Not having teeth looked at can be painful and lead to larger issues. Therefore, most employers will be empathetic to you having time off for a routine or non-routine dental appointment. If you don’t, you’re likely not going to be able to do much at work, anyway!

17. Jury duty

In many countries, jury duty isn’t optional; it’s a lawful obligation. And this means employers must allow you time off to undertake it. Jury duty isn’t limited in duration; some cases can take a few days to hear, and others can take months. Be prepared for significant time off work if you’re called to be part of a jury.

18. Power outage

Power outages are good excuses to call off work, as they might mean that you’ll be unable to get into work or, if you work from home, be unable to log on and complete your task. Power cuts will also sometimes need your presence at home so you can let in engineers to help fix the cause.

19. Flooding

Flooding can cause significant damage to your belongings and will need your urgent attention and, therefore, time off work. Like any home emergency, you’ll need to stay home to engage with repair persons and insurance agents and, in extreme cases, evacuate where you live. You might also need time off work to secure your house and belongings.

20. Medical appointments

Getting access to doctor’s appointments can be a frustrating process. Therefore, if you need to see a doctor and an appointment comes up at short notice, this is a legitimate excuse for time off work. Employers aren’t obligated to accept these requests, but they should display understanding of the circumstances and waitlists for certain medical appointments.

Final thoughts

When requesting time off work for these reasons, don’t feel embarrassed about doing so, as some of these reasons are extremely common and completely natural for employers to hear about and accept. Mitigate pushback from employers regarding time off work by requesting time off through the right channels and giving your employer advance notice where possible.

Whereas it’s not right for employers to ask for evidence that your time off work is genuine, do ensure you have a doctor’s note ready for when you return to work and, of course, avoid using fake excuses to ensure the relationship between you and your manager is sustained by trust and good conduct.

To recap, here are some of the best reasons for missing work:

Good reasons for being late to work infographic

Can you think of any other acceptable reasons for missing work? Let us know in the comments section below.


Originally published on February 25, 2019.