14 Good Excuses & Valid Reasons to Leave Work Early

By Billie •  Updated: 02/08/21 •  8 min read

Sometimes you need to leave work early but don’t think your supervisor or boss will approve of your early departure. They want a justifiable reason, they say.

A working relationship is one of trust and reciprocity, for both the employer and the employed. Instead of asking for a list of excuses to get out of work, simply state your situation to your boss, and ask for their feedback or suggestions. Managers generally know when you are making an excuse (lying) or when you have a legit reason, so honesty is best. Honesty will get you farther than lying ever will.

Depending on your responsibilities, what your boss actually wants is to make sure you will finish your work (if you have office commitments) or meet a quota deadline and not let sales slip. Reassure them that although you will be briefly absent, your contributions will continue.

“I don’t always bark at night, but when I do, it’s for no reason.”

Bulletproof Excuses for Leaving Work Early

  1. My pet is sick
  2. My surveillance cam shows something weird
  3. My surveillance cam shows my dog is destroying my shoes
  4. My dog has been barking all day and the neighbors called my landlord
  5. I have an appointment I forgot to enter into my calendar
  6. My family member called and they need me for something
  7. I need to drive my cousin to the airport (assuming uber isn’t available in your area)
  8. Friends booked a spa treatment for me and they didn’t realize I don’t get off work until later
  9. I need to drop off my car at the garage before they close
  10. I didn’t realize it is my anniversary and I forgot to get something for my spouse
  11. The hot water heater is leaking (according to the water sensor)
  12. School called, need to go pick up my child
  13. Attending a funeral of a high school friend
  14. Physical therapy, dentist or mental health appointment

I’m not one to abuse privileges and take advantage of flexible work schedules. Sometimes things come up and the truth doesn’t quite convey the seriousness of the matter or you don’t want to reveal private matters; in such a case, try one of these excuses for leaving work early.

Why Do You Want to Leave Early?

If you are a mature person and you usually fulfill your job responsibilities, then simply ask to leave work early (effective if your request doesn’t happen often). If your request is reasonable, it won’t be denied.

If you are an accountant and your services are needed at tax time, then leaving early might be off the table.

If all you are doing is trying to get out of work, the best answer is to quit (find a new job first, if you desire).

Best Reasons to Go Home From Work Early

As a Manager, when I have employees requesting to leave early, if there isn’t a specific requirement for that specific person at that time, I will let them leave work early, regardless of the reason. There is no need for a BS excuse when you act like a mature, responsible person.

Here are valid reasons to leave work early (with permission / notification), which some might offer as a fake excuse:

If you are already on good terms with people at your workplace, you speak amicably to your co-workers on a regular basis, and have a good relationship with management and you don’t take advantage of your benefits, then your “reward” is being allowed to leave early when you have other duties or life tasks. People understand that Life Happens.

From Barb Jaarsma:

There is no “best” excuse to go home from work early. When you’re at work, you’re part of a team. Everyone has a primary function, and everyone is cross-trained so they can step up to help others who may need some extra coaching. When you go home early, (or don’t bother to show up), you’re dumping your work on someone else. Even if your grandmother died or your baby is sick, it’s still inconveniencing others. Family always comes first, of course, but if it gets to be a habit, I’ll try to help you find a different position that allows you significant flexibility and replace you with someone in a position to be present all day, every day.

Funny story: I once had an employee whose husband died in Afghanistan, and she needed a few weeks off to sort out the arrangements. Then her grandmother died. Then her dog got sick. Then her grandson needed chemo. Then her house caught fire. She was down to two hours a week at that point and I was beginning to suspect some mental health issues. About a year after her husband died, he died AGAIN. That’s when I let her go.

Look for excuses to work hard and to do your best. Don’t look for excuses to leave work early.

Weird Excuses That Actually Work for Getting Out of Work on Short Notice

  • If you are willing to chug a bunch of hot sauce, one worker swears by this trick: “Right before you ask to leave early, go to the restroom or somewhere secluded and chug a small bottle of hot sauce like Tabasco. Even eating a fresh jalapeno will work. It’ll cause your face to redden and give you sniffles and or teary eyes. Essentially making you look sick. I’ve done this many times over the last two decades, always works.” – fdzman
  • If you have an allergy and are willing to risk personal injury, one worker snorted ground-up ragweed right before going into work, showed his boss his alarming symptoms, and had the next day or two off. (We do not advise trying that.)
From – rd.com

Get Out of Work Excuses Only Parents Can Use

Parents have zero down time and an important 24/7 job, so I think it is only fair that parents are given some slack for calling in now and then. [source: babble.com]

“I have to leave to meet a plumber and find out which kid put something down the toilet.”

“My kid ate the cat’s litter box contents and needs his stomach pumped.

School is cancelled, and I have no one else to watch my child.

“I’ll be late to work this morning, my kid threw up on me as we were leaving the house.

“My son jumped off the top bunk into the ceiling fan which was going full-speed, cut his eyelid, and now needs stitches.

“I’ll be late today because my kid had to poop and he was constipated so it took a while.” [TRUE STORY]

I have to leave work early. My son is in hysterics at home because there is a raccoon staring at him through the closed patio door.

“I’ll be a little late today because my son’s hamster got out of his cage and managed to chew the cord on my new refrigerator and I have to wait for the repairman to come over and fix it.

“I won’t be in today because I’m at the ER with my son who thinks he’s Tony Hawk.

“I won’t be in today. My child fell on the dog and I have to take him to the vet right away.

My teenage son and I got in a fight this morning and he stole my car.

“I have to leave work early. My daughter called and said there’s a homeless man bathing in the fountain in my front yard and she’s scared he’ll come into the house after he’s done!”

I’ll be late today because my 6-year-old girl left the upstairs window open and the dog chased the cat out the window. He’s scared half to death, howling on the roof now.

“I’m going to be late today because I can’t find my car keys. My son said he used them in his sand castle. I’m headed outside to search the sandbox.


9 Good Excuses to Miss Work on Short Notice


I like to climb mountains, read Nietzsche, and explore the West Coast. I have a BA from York University (2003) in Toronto, Canada, and yet on this site I sometimes spell like an American (know your audience). Thank you. Thank you very much.

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