Top 16 Good Excuses to Leave Work Early Without Trouble

Christina J Colclough

By Christina Colclough

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Good Excuses to Leave Work Early

It’s not uncommon for employees to go home before their shift ends. However, since each company has a strict attendance policy, you cannot just pack your things and leave without a word. To avoid disciplinary actions, you must give your superior good reasons to leave work early without sounding unprofessional!

As someone who has worked as both a manager and an employee, I have compiled some of the most convincing reasons you can use to justify your leave. Scroll down to learn more!

Top 16 Common Excuses To Leave Work Early

Reasons regarding headaches, upset stomach, contagious symptoms, religious holidays, triggered security alarms, family sickness/death, household crises, and lost pets will likely convince your manager. He will also let you go if you claim you must attend other work-related events.

Leave Work Early

1. Fever or Cough

No manager in their right mind would want a sick employee to drain their last bit of energy at work, especially when it also poses a risk of spreading the illness to other workers. 

Therefore, any symptom such as fever, nasty cough, or sinus congestion is enough to grant you an early leave without further questioning, especially considering that the pandemic is not yet over in some countries.

2. Stomach Problems

Constant bathroom issues will distract you from your work; hardly any employer can force their employees to stay behind in that condition. Severe menstrual cramps, stomach pains, etc., are the most common signs you can mention to your boss. 

Note that some companies include specific protocols in their sick policy. So, if you really want to use personal illness as an excuse, make sure you have double-checked this policy (or your employee contract) to know what steps to take.

3. Headache

Mental Health Problems in work

This excuse might sound unprofessional at first, but headaches could occur anytime during the day, especially in busy working environments like restaurants or food stalls.

Nevertheless, for people with weaker immune systems, too much exposure to noise and light can be debilitating if not treated properly. Some types of migraines even come with no warning and might lead to acute episodes 2-3 times a month. Most managers will be supportive and allow you to leave early for faster recovery.

4. Doctor Appointment

Scheduling a meeting with an optician, dentist, or specialist outside office hours is not easy. 

Since the time and date are entirely up to your doctor, you are not the one in control of the situation. Therefore, your supervisor is unlikely to complain if you have to leave work early for an upcoming appointment. 

  • Does your company require you to show the doctor’s note or documents as proof? Then, prepare them in advance.
  • It would be best to give your manager an early notice (unless there is an unexpected medical issue). Otherwise, they might be suspicious or annoyed with your last-minute heads-up. 

5. Your Child Is Sick

Taking care of a sick child can be draining. You have to pick them up from their class or the playground, drive them to the clinic, and buy prescribed medicines. The workload will double for single parents. That’s why your boss will likely agree to let you head out before the shift ends.

However, do not use this reason too often. If the child gets sick frequently, the company might ask you to manage this personal issue on your own without missing work; there will be no more exceptions! 

6. Family Member in Crisis

For anyone, family must be put above all else. It is difficult to concentrate at work when your partner or family member is in a car accident, struggling with a mental crisis, or involved in legal matters. The longer the shift, the more worried you will get! 

In most cases, your concerned manager will take the initiative to ask whether you want to leave early and ensure everything is alright. If you are a disciplined employee who has never skipped work before, they might be even more willing to let you off the hook this time.

If that is your close friend, your boss might still understand and allow you to spend time with your buddy.

7. Someone In The Family Passed Away

You will need time to make memorial/funeral arrangements and process your grief. So, your boss will not question this excuse and even give you an extra day off or two until you are ready to return.

Most companies have specific bereavement policies to cover family deaths. Scan through the contract to see if there is anything else you need to do before taking your time off.

8. Broken Computer

Wifi problems, hard drive crashes, etc., make it impossible for the computer to function properly. Tell your boss about these issues, and add that you have no idea when they can be fixed; in that case, the company might let you quit earlier than usual.

Still, this excuse will be more effective if you are an online/remote worker since some offices have technicians or IT crews to fix the computers on the spot.

9. Car Problems

Does your boss already know you commute to work by car? Then, you can tell him there was an unexpected car problem, like an engine failure in the morning, which required you to drive it to a repair shop. Now, you have to take the car before the shop closes. 

It’s worth noting that this reason may not work 100%, as your manager can tell you to use other transportation alternatives to go home and take the car on other days.

10. Your Home Is Being Flooded

Burst pipes and floods cause serious damage that might cost thousands to fix and require immediate action. 

Such situations are obviously out of your control, so most employers will let you off the hook to handle everything as soon as possible; the further the delay, the more damage there will be. This sentiment also applies to other household issues, such as gas leakages, roof holes, etc.

11. The Security Alarm Is Triggered

A triggered alarm signals potential robberies or break-ins. Tell your manager you must leave immediately to ensure your family members and properties are safe. 

Most importantly, you should explain the situation clearly to make him understand why it has to be you (and not another family member) that handles the issue; for instance, you are the only one with access to the alarm or front garage.

If your manager later asks you what happened that day, be honest, even when it was just a false alarm.

Let’s say you are assigned to work with other departments or foster relationships with related institutions; in that case, your supervisor would not mind when you clock out early. You can keep your message short and simple, like “There’s another task I need to complete” or “I am going to meet a client.”

  • Networking events are another great work-related reason to leave work early.
  • You can use workplace training or professional development opportunities to leave work early. However, be prepared that your boss might ask for your proof of attendance.
  • Do not skip the event you have used for your leaving-work-early excuses if there is someone who might note your absence. Otherwise, you will put yourself at serious risk!

13. Religious Holidays

According to federal laws, employers must provide employees with reasonable accommodations and support for their religious beliefs.

So, do not hesitate to ask for an early leave in such cases. Even if you might still work on those holidays, tell your manager the traditions are integral to your culture and require a lot of preparation.

I suggest using this legitimate excuse only when you are still a new employee. Suppose you have been here for 10 years but only mention this “holiday” for the first time today; your manager will assume you just want to get home early.

14. Voting

Some countries, such as the U.S., allow workers to leave during regular business hours to fulfill their civic responsibilities, including voting. 

Tell your manager you must head out early to go to the polling spot before it closes. Your company might face legal issues if they refuse to let you go, meaning you will get a definitive Yes! 

And what if they want to know why you cannot vote outside office hours? You can say there are long queues before the polling station, or you must confirm your ballot is 100% counted.

15. Jury Duties

As a jury member in court cases, you might have to take time off for several days. While employers do not always have to cover 100% of your payment in this period, they must still respect the jury summons and let you leave early. 

Mention the specific time and date to your boss to confirm the company policy for jury duties. Most employers also require proof of the summons, so remember to prepare all the necessary documents in advance.

16. Your Cat or Dog Has Run Away

As a full-time worker on a tight budget, you do not have time to monitor your pet 24/7 or have to hire someone to care for them. Without supervision, they might free themselves from the cage or chain and escape home; the longer you stay behind at work, the more difficult it will be to track them down!

I’m certain even a conservative manager should understand how devastating it is to lose a pet. Therefore, you will likely be granted an early leave to handle this emergency without much trouble.

Bad Excuses You Should Not Use To Leave Work Early

  • Boredom. After finishing your workload, you must feel like nothing else is left to do. But trust me, no managers will think the same. If you tell them you have completed all your assigned tasks, your manager will likely give you extra work.
  • Casual hangouts. You might want to spend the entire evening with your sibling or best friend, especially if it has been months or even years since you two last met. However, using that as an excuse to leave early is unwise and unprofessional. 
  • Personal stressors. We all feel terrible after a huge conflict with our best friends, significant other, or spouse. But I doubt your manager will show much sympathy or accept these bad reasons; instead, it would be best to take a breath and use your own work to distract yourself from negative thoughts. 

Can You Get Fired for Leaving Early? 

Yes, your boss can fire you for leaving early, especially if you do so without permission or have no believable excuses. And do not forget that in some states, employers have the right to terminate employees for any reason or no reason at all, which is referred to as “at-will” employment.

To be professional when asking for early leave:

  • Give your boss as much notice as possible so they can adjust the schedule and make sure your work is covered.
  • Be specific about why you need to leave early. Is it a medical emergency, a family matter, or another important commitment? Let your boss know in detail; the more information you give them, the more likely they will accept your request.
  • If possible, offer to make up for the time you will be missing. Some common options are staying for extra hours another day, skipping lunch breaks, coming in early on other days, or working remotely from home.
  • Make sure you are polite and respectful. Remember that your manager is not obligated to agree with your request, so be gracious if they say no.

How to Leave Work Early Without Getting In Trouble In Case Of Personal Reasons You Cannot Disclose

Just be honest with your manager; let them know that you have a personal matter that you need to attend to, but you are not comfortable disclosing the details. Be sure to emphasize this personal matter is urgent and that you must leave immediately.


While all the reasons above are considered valid, they will be more effective if you have been a stellar employee with a nearly perfect attendance record. 

Otherwise, too frequent violations and constant flimsy excuses definitely leave a bad impression on your manager. In the worst-case scenario, you might end up getting fired on the spot!

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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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