20 Good Excuses for Being Late for Work

Everyone’s bound to run late for work at some point – and sometimes the reasons will be ridiculous. And sometimes it’s okay to tell a little white lie.

Late for Work Excuses

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‘I couldn’t get out of bed’ or ‘the coffee ran out’ aren’t the best excuses to give when running late for work. No, your boss won’t believe you when you tell him that a zebra held up the traffic or a huge typhoon hit your house.

If you’re late for work, you need to give a valid reason for your delay. It might mean telling a little white lie and putting on your best act, but at least you avoid getting that shake of disapproval from your boss.

Instead of saying you spent half an hour scrolling through Facebook, here are 20 more reasonable and valid excuses for being late to work.

1. ‘There was too much traffic’

‘Sorry for being late, a lane was closed, and it caused a massive traffic jam’. Those pesky roadworks, hey? This is a pretty easy and obvious excuse to use when arriving late to work. It’s not your fault, and there’s no proving that it was actually the snooze button that kept you from arriving on time. Cheeky, I know.

2. ‘A family member was sick’

A little white lie never hurt anybody, right? Telling your manager that your child or partner needed medical attention at 8 am is probably an easy route to go down if you’re running late to the office. Plus, your manager will probably offer some sympathy (oops).

3. ‘My car broke down’

Driving to work has its downsides. Sometimes, bad things happen, and your car just doesn’t start in the morning. Explain to your employer that your vehicle is to blame for your late arrival and in classic Friends style, that something was wrong with the ‘left phalange’. Here’s to hoping they know absolutely nothing about cars.

4. ‘My babysitter let me down’

Late for the office? If you have kids, it would be perfectly understandable to say that your babysitter let you down that morning. I mean, finding an alternative at 8 am isn’t easy and of course, it’s going to delay your day. You can’t leave the kids alone at home, so your boss has no reason to argue against this excuse.

5. ‘I was stopped by the police’

When in trouble, blame the police. Getting stopped on the highway is bound to delay you some extra minutes. Especially, when you have to hand in all your personal information and then you end up getting caught in extra traffic. Never tell your boss that you were caught for speeding, though, because they’ll want proof. Just say that they were doing random checks on the highway (lying hurts, I know).

6. ‘My pet ran away’

Sometimes, that hairdryer just doesn’t want to work in the mornings. If that’s your real reason for being late to work, it’s time to think up a more valid excuse for your supervisor. Say that you spent half an hour chasing your dog Benji down the street after he escaped your gates. If you have a manager who loves animals, this excuse will go down pretty well.

7. ‘My water pipes burst’

Use excuses that will make your boss sympathise with you – like saying your water pipes burst. There’s no proof it didn’t happen, and it will explain why you’re looking flustered this morning (when really, it’s because there was a spider in the bedroom that kept you getting out of bed). Waiting for the maintenance guy to turn up and having to mop your house has delayed you a good hour, and well, work had to wait.

8. ‘I felt very ill’

We’ve all had mornings where we’ve woken up feeling like death warmed up. We’re sure your boss has, too. So, use this as an excuse to explain your tardiness. Calling in sick and using good excuses like, ‘I feel dizzy’ or ‘I’m projectile vomiting’ are ways to avoid that look of disapproval from your manager.

9. ‘I lost my bag’

On your way to work, you stopped off to grab a bottle of milk for the office (points for being generous to your colleagues), but you realised you left your bag in the shop. By the time you noticed and drove back to the store, it was already 9.30. Pretending to have your bag stolen is a great cover story to protect you from being told off by your employer.

10. ‘The weather was really bad’

If waking up from a terrible nightmare had you too shaken up to head to work on time, it’s best you think up a more reasonable excuse for your boss. Explain that the snowy or rainy weather got your car stuck or the roads were closed off. This might even be the best excuse to get out of work the whole day!

11. ‘The subway/bus was out of order’

For those who use public transport to get to work, this excuse will be as easy as pie. Call in late and simply explain to your supervisor that the subway is closed due to technical checks or that your usual bus didn’t turn up because of drivers’ strikes. This is the perfect reason for being late.

12. ‘I was held up at the doctor’s’

You booked your appointment way before you’re supposed to get to work, but the waiting room was overcrowded, and the doctor took too long to see you. Now, that’s an excuse that will sweeten up your boss. A doctor’s visit is always a concern for your employer, so this cover-up story for being late might even get you some sympathy. Don’t forget to *fake cough*!

13. ‘There’s been a death in the family’

This excuse is pretty dramatic, but if being late for work is detrimental to your position, it’s time to summon the devil and make up a horrid lie. Explaining that a family member passed away late last night or early this morning is a believable way to cover up your tardiness. No boss will question this personal issue. Just make sure to put on your best poker face when reciting the story.

14. ‘I was called into school’

Another white lie that will sound like a meaningful reason for being late. If you have kids, tell your manager that the headteacher called you to come and collect your child – either for being unruly or because they got sick. Suck up to your boss by adding in, ‘As a fellow parent, I really hope you understand.’ Argh, kids these days!

15. ‘My house got burgled’

Yes, this may be dramatic, but it’s better than telling your boss that you wasted time talking to your friend on the phone! Channel your best Meryl Streep and explain that your house was burgled in the early hours of the morning and you had to wait for the police to arrive and take fingerprints. Tragic.

16. ‘I had a car accident’

This cover up will make total sense when you arrive one hour late to work on a Monday morning. You don’t have to exaggerate this excuse – just inform your employer that someone hit the back of your car on the way to work and you had to wait for the insurance to turn up and sort out the issue.

17. ‘It’s personal’

Sometimes, you don’t need a full-blown cover story to explain why you’re late. Simply tell your manager that you were held up for ‘personal reasons’. Mention that a sensitive issue arose overnight and you’d rather not talk about it. Hopefully, your boss doesn’t pester you to explain, but otherwise, ‘it’s personal’ sounds like a pretty good reason to let you off.

18. ‘I got splashed by a puddle’

Argh, those inconsiderable drivers. It’s raining, you have to walk to work, and a car drives by and boom, you get splashed by a passing car. Well, that only means you’ll have to head back home for an outfit change. This excuse is better than saying you were abducted by aliens.

19. ‘I lost my car keys’

Arriving on time is one of the best ways to prove your workplace professionalism. But sometimes, kids happen. Running late because you like to sleep in? Try to give the excuse that your troublesome kids lost your car keys and you spent half an hour searching for them before the commute to work.

20. ‘I have bad cramps’

Sometimes, being a woman has its perks. Telling your boss that you’re running late due to severe menstruation cramps is a way to soften them up. If your manager is a man, he’ll probably feel quite uncomfortable discussing it, and if it’s a woman, well, she understands your pain. Females – we’ve got the Trump card!

Final thoughts

Life happens and, well, you’re late. It happens to the best of us. Just don’t make it a habit and instead, practice good work etiquette by making yourself punctual. If running late is indeed something you can’t help, with our list, we hope you don’t run out of excuses!

Have you ever used any good excuses when you were running late for work? Let us know what they are by commenting in the section below.