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The need to take a day off on short notice from work happens to all of us. Life happens, and when it does, we need to take some time to take care of the circumstances that come our way.
Sometimes we may need to go into work later than scheduled, and other times we may need to call out for the entire day. Either way, taking some time off can prevent unnecessary burnout. We can only control so much in our lives… and calling out of work when we have to is one of them.
When you need to take a day off work, especially on short notice, it can cause some anxiety for both you and your employer. In this article, you’ll find good excuses to miss work on short notice and how to deliver those excuses to keep the anxiety levels at bay.
If you need a day off, it’s time to stop procrastinating and borrow from the excuses below to get it done!
What Constitutes a Good Excuse?
When using a short-notice excuse, you’ll want to weigh your options. Some excuses may cause your boss to raise an eyebrow, while others may be perfectly acceptable despite the inconvenience.
The key to asking for time off, while staying in the good graces of your boss and coworkers, lies in knowing which excuses are appropriate at the time. The last thing you want to do is to make a bad impression at work and potentially stifle or end your career.
While you don't want to be a people pleaser, you do need to be polite while asking for the time off you want and need. Before contacting your boss to ask for a day off, think of their personality and how you can best handle the situation.
Nervous? You can check out this article to help give you the confidence you need to ask your boss for time off work.
A good excuse for calling out of work on short notice is something that requires your immediate attention. If the excuse you use is something that can wait, it may be frowned upon not to give your management a head’s up before actually calling out to attend to it.
Additionally, your goal should be to make sure the excuse is something readily believable. For instance, don’t say your pet is sick if you don’t have a pet.
31 Examples of Good Excuses
The following examples should help you when you miss work on short notice. We’ve included some lines as examples that you may use for each excuse.
Pro tip: It may be helpful to preface each excuse with a sincere phrase, such as:
“I realize this may be inconvenient…”
“I apologize for any inconvenience…”
“I’ve contacted [name of coworker] who is willing to cover my shift while I’m away.”
Words likes these can go a long way to soften the blow when an employee calls out.
Excuse #1: Computer issues if you are working remotely.
Working from home has its own unique challenges, and one of those is when you’re experiencing computer issues. Depending on the difficulty, you may find you need to wait a day or more to have a new computer shipped to your residence.
Before calling out for computer issues, be sure you have re-booted your computer first, as some glitches may be resolved in this way, and your boss may ask if you’ve taken this or other steps, such as calling the help desk, first.
“My computer is not working properly, even after re-booting it.”
“My computer is not working properly. I’ve called the help desk and am waiting for a resolution.”
“My computer is not working properly, and I’ve been informed that a replacement will arrive tomorrow.”
Excuse #2: A sick child.
With children, you never know when one may wake up feeling unwell or when one may be sent home from school sick. When this occurs, you’ll need an excuse to call out of work.
“My son is experiencing symptoms of a cold and fever, and I need the day off to care for him.”
“My daughter has broken her arm, and I need to care for her.”
“I’ve been called to pick up my child from school as he is sick, and will need to care for him for the remainder of the day.”
Excuse #3: An accident on the way to work.
Sometimes circumstances cannot be avoided. You may need to call out for a day to take care of business and any injuries you may have incurred.
“I’ve had an accident on the highway and need to rest for the remainder of the day, per the Emergency Department doctor. I’ll provide a note when I return to work.”
“I slipped on the ice on my front steps this morning, and I’m waiting to get checked out by the doctor.”
“I accidentally cut my hand while slicing vegetables and need to get stitches.”
Excuse #4: Hazardous weather.
We can’t control the weather and some are more comfortable driving in various weather-related conditions than others. Sometimes a company will close whenever there is snow or ice in the forecast, but sometimes not.
It is at the discretion of the employee to determine whether he feels it is safe to drive.
“According to the latest weather report, there are currently blizzard conditions that I’m not comfortable driving in.”
“Since the roads are icy this morning, I feel it is too treacherous to drive to work this morning.”
“The forecast shows dangerous ice and snow will be on the road before the workday ends today. Therefore, I will be taking a personal day as I don’t feel comfortable risking the drive.”
Excuse #5: A parent is seriously ill.
It’s difficult when our parents are unwell, and especially, as their condition deteriorates. As their children, we want to be there for them and often need to be. For help with writing a letter or absence for family matters, check out this article.
“My mother is not feeling well. I feel it’s best if I took her to get checked out at the hospital.”
“My father is in the hospital and the prognosis is dire. I need to be with him.”
“Please accept this as a formal reason for my absence today due to my assistance being needed by my mother as she is ill.”
Excuse #6: A mental health day.
Everyone needs a day of self-care to rejuvenate from time to time. Even if you have a career you love, it helps, particularly mentally, to take a mental health day.
While you may not feel that you deserve a day to yourself, or you may feel guilty for taking the time, remember that to be the best you, and the best employee you can be, you need to take care of yourself.
“In an effort to prioritize my mental health, I am requesting to take a mental health day.”
“As I’m sure you know, working on XY project has required much overtime. I would like to request a mental health day to help me refresh and be better suited to achieve the same level of effort on my next project as I have on the previous one.”
“I’m unable to come to work today due to personal reasons. I hope you’ll understand.”
Excuse #7: Food poisoning.
It can make you feel so miserable you cannot imagine feeling good again. If your body is subjected to food poisoning, you definitely will want to call out of work.
“I believe I’ve eaten something that is not agreeing with me. I need to stay home and heal today.”
“I’m not feeling well today and will need to take the day off to recover.”
“I’ve scheduled a doctor’s appointment as I’m not feeling well today and will need time to recuperate.”
Excuse #8: That time of the month.
Sometimes the reason for calling out of work is something you may not care to share, as in when you’re miserable because of your menstrual cycle. It can cause a woman to experience abdominal cramps, lower back aches, migraines, and more.
Of course, depending on your relationship with your boss, you may feel comfortable sharing the reason for your calling out. If you need to muster up your courage to use this excuse, we’ve written an article that may help you feel like a warrior.
“I’m not feeling well today. I need to take a sick day.”
“It’s that time of the month and I’m not handling it well. I need to take a day to feel better.”
“Please accept this request to take a sick day as I am unwell.”
Excuse #9: Recent injury.
If you’ve recently been hurt or hurt yourself and feel you need some time off, even if you’ve recently returned to work after an absence due to the injury, this may be a good excuse to offer.
“I’m having a lot of pain in my foot since the operation and need a day to rest and recover a bit more.”
“I slipped and broke my tooth and will need to see the dentist today.”
“I need a day off to recover from an injury. I’ll provide a doctor’s note when I return.”
Excuse #10: A last-minute request to participate in a funeral.
Sometimes we cannot anticipate when we’ll be called upon to provide support. You may find yourself in a position to help ease a family’s pain by sharing in their grief at a funeral or memorial service.
“A close friend recently passed and his family has asked me to participate in his funeral arrangements.”
“Due to personal reasons, I’ll be unable to come to work today and am requesting to take a personal day.”
“I’ve been asked to give the eulogy at a funeral and will need to take some personal time off.”
Excuse #11: A contagious illness.
If you have a disease that you may spread to your coworkers, you'll want to take a sick day, which is the most kind thing you can do to protect them.
“I'm experiencing a fever today and feel it would unnecessarily expose my coworkers if I come into work. Therefore, I am requesting to take a sick day.”
“Tests have shown I have the flu and will not be into work today; instead, I'll be taking a sick day and will keep you posted on when I can return.”
“I'm currently experiencing pink eye and will be out of the office until it clears up in order not to expose anyone.”
Excuse #12: You've been exposed to a contagious illness.
This has become an acceptable excuse since COVID-19 came upon the scene. If you've been exposed, you may want to check CDC guidelines and follow any recommended quarantine guidance and take some time off if needed.
“I was informed that I've been exposed to COVID-19 and need to be quarantined for x days.”
“I've been exposed to x disease. I should be able to return to the office tomorrow per my doctor's advice.”
“I've contacted my doctor for testing. I will return to the office once I'm sure I have not acquired the disease I've been exposed to.”
Excuse #13: A fire at your home.
This is definitely one of the good excuses to miss work on short notice, although having a fire at your home is definitely not good. Any manager should understand the need to call out for this excuse which can cause you all kinds of headaches and distress.
“Unfortunately, I had a fire at my home last night and will need to take the day off.”
“There was a fire at my home and I will need the day to find a temporary place to stay while cleaning and repairs are being done.”
“My home caught fire and, while I'm thankful no one was injured, I will need some time off to take care of things.”
Excuse #14: Your car won’t start.
Oh, the frustration when our cars do not work properly! Sometimes it can be because of the cold or a faulty part. For whatever reason, car problems can leave you without transportation to your job.
“My car would not start this morning and I need to take the day off to get it to the shop and repaired.”
“This morning my car failed to start. The mechanic has an opening later today and I need to take time off to transport it and wait for repairs.”
“I'm currently waiting for a tow truck to arrive as my car would not start this morning, leaving me without transportation to work.”
Excuse #15: A death in the family.
Sadly, there may come a time when one of your loved ones passes and you need to call out for work unexpectedly.
“We've had a death in our family and I need to take some personal time off.”
“Due to the death of my daughter, I will need some personal time off. I'll keep you posted on the arrangements.”
“We've had a death in our family and I need to travel to my hometown. Therefore, I'll need to take some time off.”
Excuse #16: Illness or death of a pet.
Sadly, we usually outlive our beloved pets. They are often as dear to us as our family members. Experiencing grief, whether for a person or a pet, is difficult and is a good reason for taking time off work. Also, when our pets are sick, it's understandable that we need to care for them.
“I need some time off to grieve the passing of my sweet pup which I've had for 12 years.”
“I have an appointment this morning to take my pet to the veterinarian and will need some unexpected time off.”
“I woke up this morning to my favorite cat being sick. I'm waiting to hear back about getting an appointment at the vet's office.”
Excuse #17: A package arriving needs your signature.
This can happen any time of the year but especially during the holidays as we usually send and receive more packages. Some require signatures in order to be delivered and you may need to take some time off to ensure you are home when the package arrives.
“I just received a notification that a delivery requiring a signature is due to be delivered to my residence today. I will need some time off to make sure I'm home during that time.”
“I need to be home to sign for a package today. I've ensured coverage for my responsibilities and am requesting a personal day off.”
“Please accept this request for a personal day off as I am expecting a package that I must sign for.”
Excuse #18: You need to wait for a repairman.
There are many reasons you might need a repairman at your home. From time to time, something will break that needs attention. Being able to provide a good excuse in order to stay home during these times, is important.
“My refrigerator stopped working this morning and I’ve called a repair service. The window of time includes most of the day so I need to take a personal day in order to be here when the repairman arrives.”
“Unfortunately, my heating unit is broken and I need to wait for a HVAC repairman to arrive. Please accept my request to take a personal day off.”
“I need to request a personal day off as an electrician is working to get the power restored at my home.”
Excuse #19: An opening at a doctor’s office.
Sometimes it’s difficult to get an appointment when we’d like it. We often end up waiting a month or two or more for certain appointments. When we get a call that someone has canceled and asked if we want the appointment, well, I would jump on it, wouldn’t you? Then, the next step is having to call out of work in order to keep the appointment.
“I finally have an appointment that I’ve tried to secure for a while. I will need some time off to keep it.”
“I’d like to take a personal day in order to keep a much-needed appointment.”
“I just found out that I have the opportunity to make an appointment for today. I’ll need to take some personal time.”
Excuse #20: Internet outages if you’re working remotely.
Experiencing problems with Wi-Fi and wired connections happen from time to time. When they do, it’s impossible to get work done.
“Our service provider is working on the outage and has not provided an estimated time of completion. Therefore, I will take a personal day since I am unable to complete my work.”
“I am requesting a day off as I am unable to work due to an internet outage.”
“Please consider this request for a personal day as I have no internet service.”
Excuse #21: You have a migraine. Ouch!
Whenever a migraine hits, it’s often hard to function as the pain can be unbearable. Realize that you can share as much or as little as you want when giving an excuse that deals with your health. Often, it depends on the relationship with your boss and how open you wish to be when sharing your health issues.
“I’m having a migraine today and will be unable to come into work.”
“I’m feeling ill this morning and will need to take a sick day.”
“Please know that I am sick and will be unable to come to work today.”
Excuse #22. Dental Emergency
Breaking a tooth or having a filling fall out can be extremely painful and need immediate dental attention. You won't be able to work with the pain. Most people can understand the pain dental emergencies create.
“I broke my tooth when I misjudged at the gym and I need to get to the dentist immediately.”
“A filling fell out and the nerves in my tooth are exposed so I need to have it fixed.”
“My kid fell and knocked out a tooth and I need to take them to the dentist to have it reattached.”
Excuse #23. Childcare Issues
When you have children, things can happen that leave you without childcare. You can't leave your child alone and finding replacement care isn't always easy. Using this too often, however, can make your employer wonder if you are ready to work.
“My babysitter called off at the last minute and I can't get in touch with anyone as a backup”
“My child's daycare is closed today because of plumbing issues, so I need to stay home with my child.”
“My mother normally takes care of the baby but she had a medical problem that required she go to the doctor.”
Excuse #24. Public Transportation Issue
Normally, buses are dependable, but things can happen that make them need to interrupt their service. If you depend on them as your sole transportation, you can't help what happens.”
“My bus broke down and we are stranded here waiting for the repair people to come and check it out.”
“There was an accident in front of our bus and the driver and all passengers are required to stay here and give our statements to the police.”
“The weather is creating at least a two-hour delay on some buses and has caused some routes to be canceled for today.”
Excuse #25. Allergic Reaction
Allergic reactions can be minor or they can be severe. We know what things we are normally allergic to, but sometimes something comes along that causes a surprise reaction.
“I started a new medication and it is causing an allergic reaction that I need to contact my doctor about. He may want to see me.”
“I woke up this morning with hives all over my body and need to get them checked out to see what caused the allergic reaction.”
“My seasonal allergies are particularly bad today and I need to get some medication and rest.”
Excuse #26. You Witnessed/Were Affected By a Crime
Some people are more likely to witness a crime than others, depending on the kind of environment they live in. Regardless, when you witness a crime, you are not only traumatized but also obligated to talk with any police on the scene.
“I witnessed a robbery at the corner store while waiting for the bus and the police need me to come down to the station to give a statement.”
“A neighbor's house was broken into and the neighbor attacked. She came to me for help and I need to stay with her until help arrives and she is taken to safety.”
“One of my windows was shot out in a drive-by shooting today and I am too upset to work today. I need to take the day to process what happened.”
Excuse #27. Friend or Family Member is Suicidal
Sometimes you are the one person a friend or family member comes to when they are in a crisis. You can't tell them to hang on until you get home from work; you need to be there until they are in a safe place. The system is often slow as it is overwhelmed and this can take time.
“My friend called and is in a bad place mentally. I need to go as she has attempted suicide before and mentioning it now.”
“I've been waiting for a couple of hours now for a crisis representative to come and transport my suicidal friend to the hospital. I can't leave until help comes.”
“My friend's roommate called and said he is suicidal and left the apartment. Nobody can find him. I need to go and see if we can locate him and get help.”
Excuse #28. Power Outage (when working from home)
Nobody can predict when there will be a power outage. If you are working from home, this is a major problem. It is even worse if it is during the winter.
“The wind blew a tree down on a power line and the electricity is out on our whole block. They have no clue when it will be on.”
“The power is out in this entire area because a transformer blew and the power company is doing its best to get it back on.”
“My power went out and this means the furnace is also out. I need to find a place to stay until it is back on.”
Excuse #29. Child or Pet is Missing
You can't think of anything else when you don't know your children or pets are safe. If they happen to run away, you need to take the time to concentrate on finding them.
“My daughter and I had an argument and she left. I haven't been able to find her for several hours and she left her cell phone here.”
“My dog slipped past me when I opened the door and I can't find him. I need to look for him because he's never been outside unaccompanied before.”
“My cat got out and I can't find him. I need to go out and see if I can locate him and be here should he come home.”
Excuse #30. School Called and Needs You to Go In
Kids aren't always model students and you have to go get them from school. At other times, accidents and illnesses occur unexpectedly and you get called. You can't just leave your child there.
“My son got hurt in gym class and the school nurse wants me to take him to the ER to have his leg checked out.”
“My daughter got suspended and I need to go in for a conference and need to bring her home.”
“My kid is in the nurse's office complaining of an upset stomach and they have a slight fever. I need to pick them up,”
Excuse #31. Out-of-town Guests Coming in Unexpectedly
Situations happen that require a change of plans. Maybe the person picking up relatives can't make it or maybe this is a last-minute situation. In either case, you don't want to leave them stranded at the airport or train station.
“My son, who is in the military, just surprised me by announcing he is coming in for a three-day leave and I want to pick him up at the airport.”
“My sister has a big convention she is attending in town and her ride fell through at the last minute. She called for me to pick her up because I'm the only one she knows in the city.”
“My cousin's mother passed and he needs help with picking up relatives at the train station and places for them to stay while in town.”
Final Thoughts on Good Excuses to Miss Work on Short Notice
Whichever excuse fits your circumstances, it’s important to note the value of integrity and respect when calling out of work… especially on short notice. If you are in a toxic work environment where your career could be in jeopardy for requesting the day… you want to be sure to stay in the boss’s good graces by saying just the right thing and ensuring your excuse is believable.
When situations occur that necessitate finding good excuses to miss work on short notice, the examples we’ve shared will help you to successfully make your case and prove your excuse is valid. Good communication in vital for calling out for work… and is just as important as the excuse itself.
Plus, you may earn additional respect from your boss for making the effort to appropriately communicate when you must miss work without much notice, especially if you’re offered a chance to make it right somehow.
Also be sure to express gratitude for their understanding. Doing so never falls on deaf ears.
Finally, if you want to ask better questions, then watch this short, 20-minute course to learn how to have a great conversation with virtually anyone.