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The Best Excuses for Asking Your Boss to Leave Early

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

It does not matter how hardworking and dedicated you are; at some point in your career, you will sometimes want (or really, really, really need) to leave work early.

You just cannot continue in a monotonous routine and you do look for ways to come home early to do something else. After all, we are humans and we have obligations that simply cannot be delegated or controlled to weekends or non-working hours. As long as you are not overdoing it all the time, I believe your supervisor will understand and grant your request to leave work early or even come in late. What is important is that your excuse is legitimate, urgent or important. For your supervisor, it really is not a big deal to let you go early, unless there is an urgent task that needs to be taken care of.

There can be factors that will help or even hurt your chances of being able to get out of work early. I feel the organisational culture is vital, as well as your own relationship with your supervisor. Your work history, punctuality and overall attendance is also important in figuring out your chances of getting an early leave. While some companies expect workers to come in early and sty late in office to shoe their ‘dedication’, others will encourage employees to keep a healthy work-life balance and maintain their well-being.

It has been generally seen that your supervisors will treat you favourably if they view you as dedicated and hardworking. Considering the perception your management has of you, you might be able to get excused absences for some part of the workday. On the other hand, employees who have a habit of skipping work, arriving late or leaving early without a good reason will most likely face problems in getting the approvals for leaving early. Before I discuss the best excuses that you can make to leave work early, it is important to note that how your boss receives your request depends on HOW you ask. One good approach is to request rather than inform. This will show your boss that you value his/her approval. You can also mention how the work will be managed in your absence, reassuring your boss that the important tasks will not get affected. If relevant, you could also mention how you plan to make up the time by coming early the next day or working from home.

Make sure you check my other blog post, titled ‘How to Ask your Boss if you Can Leave Work Early – Like a Pro.’ Now let us look at the best excuses for asking your boss to leave early:

  • Appointment with the Dentist. Tooth pain is definitely one of the worst kinds of pain. Your boss will be able to relate to this pain. It might sound funny but it really is a good idea to prepare for this one a few days in advance; try to act the pain in advance to build your case. Show that you have been miserable for the past two days due to severe pain in your molar/canine or that a wisdom tooth is growing wrong. You decided to make an appointment is a good doctor but his/her secretory told you that the appointment is only available today. While packing your things, cry a little in pain to make it all more authentic. This should work!
  • Say You Are Unwell. This is perhaps the most common excuse and it can work very well. Most bosses will be happy to let you go if you plead sickness, especially it is an infectious disease like flu. This is because they will start to worry about their own well-being and other employees catching the disease from you. You could also say that you suffer from migraine or a terrible stomach and that you need to see the doctor.
  • Guests Are Coming Early. Here is one way to use your family to make up an excuse for leaving work early. Tell them a story like your paternal cousin and her husband are visiting today and due to a change in their plans, they are arriving earlier than previously communicated. Since most businesses state that family comes first, you could get away with this.
  • Someone Died. You could say that an old friend, an ex-co-worker or a distant relative died and you would like to go to the funeral. Now I do not advocate you going with such an extreme excuse and for many, this might be just plain shoddy. Therefore, if your morality is flexible then I guess you could try this excuse, as it will guarantee you early leave. Just make sure you do not check in at a bar with your friends.
  • Urgent Delivery. We have all been there – those darn delivery companies lays seem to deliver things only during working hours. Keep in mind that such an excuse will not fly that often so just keep it to the minimum. You could say that you ordered new furniture and the delivery company can only bring it during your working hours. I hope that you have not told your boss that your parent lives with you.
  • Faced with Personal Issues. The best thing about personal issues (not hoping you have any) is that they are personal, meaning that you cannot disclose them. Even if your boss is sounding very inquisitive, you could simply tell him/her that it is personal and related to your family. S/he will understand. Using this excuse only once should be fine. Just do not make it a habit.
  • Special Occasion. Just like personal issues, special occasions can be a very strong excuse. In my opinion, friends and family are an endless source of great excuses. Even though you might not like your brother’s girlfriend that much, their marriage can be a great excuse to leave work early. Your boss does not need to know that they met only a couple of months ago and they are not even remotely considering mentioning the ‘M’ word to each other. An important thing here is to make sure you keep a record of all special occasions you have mentioned at work. You would not want your boss to start wondering how many brothers you have and how many times they are getting married!
  • Emergency at Home. I reckon you will need an accomplice for this one, possibly an old friend. Have him/her act as your “neighbor”, giving you a call to let you know a water pipe has broken in your home and that your house is turning into a swimming pool. Make sure you come the next day to work, looking worried.
  • Picking/Dropping a Relative to Airport. As discussed earlier, family comes first at most workplaces. Telling your boss that you have to give a ride to a relative will usually get you by. Of course, your boss could argue that they could take Uber or the train but family deserves better and so you could counter-argue that you want to see them off personally.
  • Children. It is a known fact that children are a universal excuse-enabler. They have a habit of getting into trouble, genera mischief and accidents on almost daily basis and as a parent or guardian, it is your moral duty to take care of them, console them and take them to the hospital when needed. You could tell your boss that your kids have locked themselves outside/inside. You could say that you need to pick your kids from school. You could also talk about accidents as your child ate a crayon or paint and needs to be taken to the hospital – such accidents happen every day with kids.

These were all good reasons to give your boss when looking to leave early.  So what are the excuses you should never give? Below is a list of bad reasons to give for leaving work early:

  • Feeling boredom and not having too much to do. This is plain wrong and can actually get you in a lot of trouble.
  • Being hungover after too much partying all weekend. Do not expect your boss’s sympathy for drinking too much on Sunday night.
  • You have to go out with your friends. Telling your boss that you have to leave for an optional recreational activity, even if it is for your best friend coming into town, will not work. You will need to take a casual leave for this well beforehand.
  • You have to go for a job interview. This excuse will ensure you being laid off. Try not to be so honest!
  • Non-urgent errands. Never use non-urgent tasks that can easily be done outside of work, like an appointment with your hairstylist or getting your car’s oil changed.
  • Feeling stressed out. You should never make it look as if you cannot handle the stress at work. If you find your workstation to be too noisy, you could request a change of space or maybe even sit at some other place in office to get the work done. Maybe also share this article with your line manager to help improve your workspace.

Do you have any other tips to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section. Also, if you use any of the good excuses mentioned here, do share your experience with all of us here.

 
This post is part 15 of 15 in the series Time Management

About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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