What are the best excuses to leave work early? (updated)

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

Leaving work early can be tricky. If you’re reading this post then you’re probably hoping you can do just that, now. It may feel like a daunting thing to ask for – especially if you don’t want to get in trouble with your boss. After all, we are expected to put in our full hours and arrive on time each day. But sometimes it is necessary to take an earlier exit than usual. Maybe you have a doctor’s appointment or need to pick up your kid from school? Whatever the reason may be, having a few reliable excuses at the ready can make this stressful situation easier to manage.

But before I get into it, have a look at this very popular post I wrote ages ago about how to ask your boss to leave early, and you might also want to see a post I published that provides a template for asking for early leave by email. If you have no other option, then check out this post where I suggest ways to sneak out of work early without getting caught.

Here are some of the best excuses for leaving work early without getting into too much trouble:

Personal Emergency: This is probably one of the most common reasons people leave work early, but it’s also one of the more difficult ones to explain due to its nature as being rather vague and hard-to-prove. However, if you do have an emergency that requires you leaving right away such as an illness or family tragedy, then this would be a valid excuse for taking off early from work. Just make sure that you inform your supervisor ahead of time so they know what’s going on and why you need to leave urgently.

pexels anna shvets 3987146

COVID-19: In the last few years, with the emergence of Covid-19, many people have been wondering what are the best excuses to leave work early. With safety concerns and an increased need for flexibility, it’s important to have a valid excuse that won’t get you in trouble with your employer. In the current climate of Covid-19, there are a few viable options for leaving work early that can be considered reasonable under the circumstances. One reason someone may need to leave work is if they or someone close to them has contracted or been exposed to Covid-19. This could be due to being tested positive themselves or having contact with a person who has been diagnosed with the virus. It is important not only to inform your employer of this situation but also provide proof if possible so their absence can be excused. Another reason that could serve as an acceptable excuse would be if they were feeling unwell and needed some rest and recovery time either at home or in hospital care due to symptoms related to Covid-19 such as fever, coughing, fatigue or difficulty breathing [1]. If this was the case then it would certainly make sense for them to go home and seek medical attention rather than risk infecting other colleagues at work. Furthermore, those who have had their hours reduced as a result of temporary business closures caused by Covid-19 may also need additional time away from work in order to take care of personal matters such as childcare [2]. In addition, people who have had their income impacted by job loss due to coronavirus may need extra time away from work in order for them focus on finding alternative sources of employment [3]. At any rate, it is essential that employers understand these valid excuses during this extraordinary period and adjust accordingly when employees need additional time off due unforeseen circumstances related to Covid-19. Being honest about why you’re leaving will help ensure that you are not reprimanded by your employer while still allowing you adequate time off when necessary.

pexels andrea piacquadio 3779705
pexels andrea piacquadio 3779705

Doctor/Dentist Appointment: Everyone needs healthcare checkups every once in awhile and these appointments often require taking off from work for part of the day or even longer depending on how long your appointment takes place for. If this is the case for you, then let your boss know about it beforehand so that they can plan accordingly and schedule someone else in place while you’re gone

Family Responsibilities: Whether it’s picking up kids from school or running errands related to caring for elderly family members – life doesn’t always stay within office hours and sometimes we have no choice but take off earlier unexpectedly because of family responsibilities that pop up during working hours (with prior approval). Employers understand that there are times when employees need extra help with their families so don’t hesitate too much when asking permission ahead of time – just make sure that everything is communicated clearly before anything happens so everyone knows what’s going on

Mental Health Day: Taking care of our mental wellbeing should be just as important as tending to other aspects of our health – and sometimes taking some “me” time throughout the day helps us better manage stress levels and remain productive afterwards which benefits both us and our employers! So let management know ahead of time if there’s something causing undue stress in your personal life which could benefit from some extra rest… just remember not abuse this excuse or use it excessively otherwise any future requests may not be taken seriously

Unexpected Events: We all experience unexpected events out of nowhere whether it’s dealing with car troubles or having plans fall through without warning – whatever it might be these events may require some extra attention during which would mean taking off from work earlier than expected (again preferably with prior approval). Just try explaining the situation calmly and professionally when presenting this type excuse – chances are management will understand if everything’s presented properly.

Research has found that flexible scheduling policies can result in increased job satisfaction among employees by allowing them more autonomy over their own schedules [4]. In addition, research has shown that workers who felt empowered by their employer were more likely to report higher levels of job satisfaction [5]. Employees who felt supported by their supervisors were more likely to report less absenteeism [6], improved productivity [7], and fewer intentions towards quitting [8]. Allowing workers flexibility over their hours allows them an opportunity create balance between their professional lives while managing other responsibilities outside of work such as childcare obligations and medical appointments which results in overall better performance within an organization[9]

In conclusion, understanding why people need to leave early is key when deciding how best handle these situations– whether employers decide offer flexible scheduling options or allow exceptions every now again based on individual circumstances – the ultimate goal should strive creating trusting environment where employees feel comfortable communicating openly about any issues arise without fear repercussions down line. Having clear expectations set beforehand makes whole process smoother since everyone knows what acceptable terms conditions.

By providing employees reasonable accommodations, organizations ultimately foster healthier workplace dynamics which ultimately leads greater success overall.


  1. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Symptoms https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html#cdc_tpb_117585_trs_2
  2. Harvard Business Review: How Employers Should Support Working Parents During COVID – 19 https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-employers-should-support-working-parentsduring covid – 19
  3. The Balance Careers: How Job Loss Affects Your Taxes https://www.thebalancecareerscom/job – loss – affects – taxes – 3318231
  4. Vosko LF et al., “Flexible Scheduling Policies And Practices : An Overview Of Their Impact On Job Quality”, Labour Studies Journal, vol.35, pp. 2-31 (2010)
  5. Price KA et al., “Relationship Between Employee Empowerment And Job Satisfaction : A Study Of Banking Sector Employees In Pakistan ”, International Journal Of Business & Social Science, vol 6 no 5 pp 65-73 (2015)
  6. Cole SW et al., “The Role Of Supervisor Support In The Relationship Between Absenteeism And Job Satisfaction Over Time ”, Journal Of Occupational Health Psychology, vol 16 no 4 pp 506-517 (2011)
  7. Hurrell JJ Jr et al., “Job Satisfaction And Organizational Commitment As Predictors Of Organizational Citizenship And In?Role Behaviors ”, Journal Of Management 18(2): 250?279 (1992)
  8. Edwards JR et al., “The Influence Of Affective Experiences At Work On Intentions To Quit Jobs : Test For Mediation Effects Using Longitudinal Data From The National Organizations Survey Database ” Human Relations 55(8): 927?955(2002)
  9. Kirkman BL et al., “What Do We Know About Global Virtual Teams ? An Integrative Review “, Human Resource Management Review 24(3): 225–246 (2014).

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