Top 20 Good Excuses To Call Off Work On Last-Minute Notice

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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good excuses to call off work

Skipping work at the last minute is not advisable, especially if it potentially violates the company’s attendance policy or counts against your PTO hours. So, when you have no choice during emergencies, it is important to use good excuses to miss work on short notice to justify your absence.

Our team has compiled the 20 most common reasons your manager will likely not question if used appropriately. Keep scrolling!

Top 20 Good Reasons to Call Out Of Work Last Minute

Sickness or a funeral, special occasions, family emergencies, last-minute appointments, food poisoning, minor accidents/injuries, blood donations, or car issues are good excuses to call off work in last-minute texts. Note that these excuses might no longer sound believable if you bring them up too many times, so only use them from time to time.

call out of work

1. Someone You Loved Dies

When our loved ones pass away, work is the last thing on our minds. We need time to deal with our grief, not to mention the financial and logistical arrangements like memorial services or funerals.

Many companies have an official bereavement policy to cover family deaths, so make sure you have checked the employee handbook guidelines. If none of such policies are mentioned in the guide, talk to your manager or human resources directly and explain why you must take a few days off.

2. You Are Feeling Unwell

Business man stressed in office

Common colds, minor headaches, or seasonal allergies are unlikely to disrupt your performance and, therefore, are not excusable for last-minute call-offs. Such symptoms occur to everyone and go away just as fast.

But serious illnesses or contagious symptoms are something else; nobody can work at their best in those conditions, even from their beds! Managers do not want those viruses to spread and affect their other employees, either. 

That’s why you can consider calling off work in such cases. Note that your supervisor or manager might ask you for proof, such as a letter or note from your healthcare provider.

3. Food Poisoning

Those eating stale or unsafe foods might spend the entire sleepless night wrestling with nausea, headaches, vomiting, etc. 

Therefore, most managers will understand if you cannot go to the office the next morning. Anyone in the same situation needs at least a day to recover and make up for their sleep deprivation!

4. Your Family Member Is Sick

Taking care of a sick family member is not easy. You must take them to the hospital, pick up their prescriptions, or monitor their conditions to ensure the symptoms do not spike. 

Juggling all those extra tasks with your full-time job is exhausting, even when you work remotely. Your supervisor or manager will not protest if you want to step off your desk for at least a day to devote all your time to your family.

5. Last-Minute Appointment with Your Doctor

In most cases, medical appointments are scheduled in advance. 

Still, there are rare occasions when you have to agree to a last-minute appointment. Let’s say this specialist has very limited availability, and he just called you that morning to tell you another client had canceled their scheduled appointment. If you do not jump onto the opportunity and take this opening, it might take you weeks or even months to meet him!

It’s logical if you want to skip work to make time for that appointment. Communicate the situation clearly with your superior to gain all the necessary support.

6. Taking Care of Your Pet

Pet emergencies are a totally acceptable calling-out-of-work excuse. Some examples include:

  • Your dog has dug into the garbage and accidentally eaten something dangerous.
  • Your cat refuses to eat and is constantly limping.
  • Your pet must be taken to an appointment, surgical procedures, etc.

Many people have considered pets a crucial part of their lives, so even a strict manager would be supportive if you decide to prioritize your pet over work in those situations. 

7. Urgent Family Matters

Just like pets, family must also come first during times of need. Family emergencies, therefore, are perfectly plausible reasons to request some days off at short notice, as your loved ones need 100% attention and support from you!

Below are examples of urgent family matters that you need to skip work for:

  • Somebody needs an urgent, unplanned surgery.
  • Someone got into a crash or car accident.
  • Your family member is injured.
  • There were natural disasters in your hometown, and you must return home to support your relatives.
  • Someone is in labor and asks you to care for their other children.
  • Someone has serious mental health issues and needs your company.

8. No Childcare

Since the pandemic, childcare problems have been headache-inducing for many parents; it’s not easy to maintain workplace flexibility and focus on both their job responsibilities and the kids.

This issue does not just bother office workers; even parents working from home struggle to stay productive when their babysitters call in sick or schools are closed sooner than expected. Due to all these challenges, it’s perfectly understandable to call off work at short notice to take care of your children or find a replacement nanny.

9. Car Issues

Car issues, whether a malfunctioning belt or a flat tire, ruin your entire working day. Some less serious problems can be left unattended until weekends or only need 2-3 hours to fix. But in most cases, you must address them as soon as possible! 

Not to mention, if the car issue leads to collisions or freeway accidents, police officers might have to work with you for even longer. Whatever your situation is, make sure your manager receives an early heads-up.

10. Problems With The Internet Connection

Remote work is impossible if there is a serious Internet connection problem. Some people might resort to mobile hotspots or nearby cafeterias with free Wifi, but even those options will be unavailable on bad weather days when you cannot leave the house.

Taking time off work is the only reasonable solution left! Promise your manager that you will get online again once the connection is stable.

11. Jury Duties

Have you received a jury summons in your email? That will be one of the best excuses to call out of work – given that it actually happened and was not just a white lie, of course. 

According to the law, employers must give their workers unpaid or paid time off (PTO) for jury duties. They will ask you to show the jury summons as proof, so prepare it before calling off work.

12. Special Occasions

Is there any special occasion in your upcoming schedule, such as a wedding anniversary, class reunion, or your child’s historic music performance at a big competition? 

These events are not everyday occurrences, and most of them will not happen a second time. So, provided that you have given your managers notice in advance, they will not mind if you are absent; you do not have to use natural disasters or illnesses as an acceptable excuse!

13. You Have A Class

For undergraduate workers, education must remain your top priority; it helps advance your career and opens the door to numerous promising opportunities. Not to mention, these courses cost a lot of money!

Your managers will understand if you cannot afford to skip class or if it affects your grades. Nevertheless, unless the class is unexpected (e.g., to make up for the lecturer’s absence last week), I suggest communicating with your employer about your class schedule right from the start. Do not drop the bomb at the last minute! 

14. Religious Event or Holiday

Most companies offer days off for national holidays. But suppose you come from a country with diverse cultures, such as the United States; millions of citizens still celebrate hundreds of other religious events and holidays not mentioned in the company’s official guidelines.

Do not be afraid to call off work and spend time with your loved ones on those holidays; just because nobody else does the same doesn’t mean your reason is invalid! The manager will not turn down your offer, whether they like it or not, as legal issues might arise if they try to restrict their employees’ religious freedom. 

On another note, like any holiday, religious holidays are considered predictable events; it would be better to talk with your manager in advance instead of informing them just minutes before the shift starts.

15. You Are Moving Out

Ideally, the move-out process should be scheduled on weekends or during off-work hours. But not everybody has this luxury; you might have to vacate due to sudden emergencies, such as fires, natural disasters, somebody in the family being evicted, etc. 

Just explain your issue clearly and why you must skip work that day. These issues are not as uncommon as you think; most managers will be supportive.

16. Dental Accidents

A chipped/broken tooth is an acceptable reason to report your absence at short notice; it’s a pain to keep working with your teeth aching every few seconds, and scheduling a dentist appointment is not easy. You will likely gain lots of sympathy and support from your boss for this valid reason! 

Some examples of a dental emergency: 

  • You broke your tooth while eating breakfast that morning and must see a dentist immediately.
  • Your previous dentist appointment was rescheduled and moved to today, so you cannot make your shift.
  • You fell and busted some teeth, requiring urgent dental surgery.

17. Minor Injuries

Small accidents can happen anytime and to everybody. A knee injury, a sprained ankle, etc., can make a valid excuse, as it affects your performance at work. For serious injuries involving casts or stitches, you can ask for more days off, given that you provide enough proof.


  • You tripped over your child’s spaceship and hurt your ankle.
  • You twisted your knee while running yesterday, and it gets more painful and swollen today, which requires a check-up by a doctor.
  • You broke a plate and sliced your palm open. This injury needs stitches, so you cannot come to work today.

18. You Need To Take Care of Your Mental Health

Mental Health Problems in work

Mental problems are as urgent as physical injuries. Tell your boss how you have been constantly anxious about an important life event (such as your wedding in the next two weeks) or unable to concentrate at work recently.

On another note, not every boss will empathize with their employees’ mental health, so it would be best to keep their attitudes or personalities in mind. For instance, a young, compassionate boss easily accepts these common excuses without further questioning, while more conservative managers might interrogate or nitpick you for more details.

19. You Donated Your Blood

Everyone knows blood donation can be very draining. Not to mention, who would penalize their employees for such a kind-hearted act?

However, since your blood donation is pre-scheduled, it’s best to inform your manager the previous day, and you can then call in sick the next morning.

  • “I did not expect to feel that lightheaded after my donation! I do not think coming in today is a great idea.”
  • “I fainted this morning and need a day or two to recover.”
  • “I felt quite weak after the donation, so the nurse recommended that I stay home for one day.” 

20. You Locked Yourself Out Of The Car or House

Accidentally locking yourself out is frustrating; you must wait for your locksmith, roommate, or spouse to give you the spare key so that you can go to work, but they are not readily available on that day.

On another note, this excuse might sound like a blatant lie if used too often, so I suggest only using it as a genuine reason.

Can You Get Fired for Not Finding Someone to Cover The Shift?

Yes. While that is not common, note that some states have “at-will” employment laws, meaning your employers can fire you for any reason or even no reason. And, of course, not finding a replacement to cover your shift might be one of those reasons.

Can They Force You To Work If You Call In Sick?

After working with more than 20 million service workers worldwide, I can say that no one can force you to work if you call in sick, especially after you have already shown your medical documents or doctor’s note. 

However, there are still some exceptions to this rule. Suppose you have a job essential to public health or safety, such as a police officer or a healthcare worker; in that case, your employer can still ask you to return to work in emergencies, even if you do not feel well.

Can You Still Call Off Work When Working Remotely? 

Yes. Faulty Internet connections, childcare issues, serious illnesses, or family matters can keep you from staying productive no matter where you work. 

And just like with traditional working environments, communication is the key. Inform the manager of your circumstances so that they can make necessary adjustments and find someone to cover your shift. 


If you want to miss work, calling in sick is not the only plausible reason; my team has given you a full list of legitimate excuses you can use to take a day or two off work. 

On the other hand, some bosses might not be open-minded to mental health problems. Only resort to that reason if your boss has been supportive and compassionate about similar matters in the past.

See more: Good Excuses To Get Out Of Work

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Christina J Colclough

Christina J. Colclough

Dr Christina J. Colclough is an expert on The Future World of Work and the politics of digital technology advocating globally for the importance of the workers’ voice. She has extensive regional and global labour movement experience, is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach, and strategist advising progressive governments and worker organisations.

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