Stephanie Nieves
Fan of all things Rihanna- and Ru Paul-related.

Ideally, you'd love to wake up every day, fully energized, and brew a fresh pot of coffee in a sunlit home with all the enthusiasm in the world to take on the day.

But, realistically, this is not always the case and sometimes you need a few more hours of sleep.Or, you need to tend to something in your personal life — like family or your house — that’s too urgent to put off another day.  Or, some me time (which is completely valid!) because you feel burnt out and exhausted. 

In those cases, it's good to have some reasonable excuses to miss work for yourself — and the following 15 excuses will help you do just that.

What are some good reasons to call out of work?

To be clear, the following 15 excuses are exactly that — excuses. While you're welcome to use them, they should each be treated with sensitivity and you should still have a backup plan for returning to work and delegating your responsibilities while you're away.

1. You got sick. 

An average person gets sick twice a year, so missing work due to an unexplained sickness shouldn't raise too much suspicion (unless, of course, you miss work excessively for this reason). Symptoms of a real cold, fever or body ache may not show up until the morning, so this is also a good excuse to use on short notice with little explanation. Let your manager that you're not feeling well and tell them when you plan to return.

2. There's no one to watch your child.

If no one's available to watch your child, or your child's daycare is closed, you'll need to stay home to watch them — and that's a pretty legit reason to skip work. Just tell your boss your childcare provider is unavailable on the day you want to miss and have a plan in place for your return.

3. Your child is ill.

Working parents would all agree — you're a parent first, before any work role you play. So, similar to the excuse above, when it comes to your kids, it makes sense you would drop everything for them, including work. Mention that your child is sick or coming down with a cold/fever/etc. and that you'll need to stay home or take them to the doctor that day. 

4. There's an emergency at home.

This excuse can encompass an array of reasons from a sick parent to a fatal accident. If you feel comfortable, you can use the time-sensitive nature of this excuse to skip work or even stop working midday. Just let your boss know you can't come in because of it, and feel free to elaborate once you return.

5. You're experiencing car trouble.

If you get a flat tire or your engine blows out entirely while you're on your way, you can't possibly come to work. Even if this doesn't happen, it's a good reason to miss out. Tell your boss your car needs to be towed or you need to get to the mechanic to deal with the issue.

Of course, this excuse doesn’t always work if you have the option to work remotely or work entirely from home. However, car troubles — regardless of whether you need your car for work — can be urgent and require you missing some of your workday.

6. There's a problem with your home.

Whether it be a leaky pipe, an exterminator visit or your roof is caving in, tending to your home in a timely manner is an urgent reason to miss work. If this is actually the case, feel free to send your boss a picture of the situation as proof. If it's not, an email (and some advance notice, if possible) can work just fine.

7. Your pet has an appointment. 

Being a pet mom can be as demanding as being a child one. Not only may pets need similar attention, they may also need medical care, which is a good reason to need to miss work, show up late or leave early. Since it is an appointment and not an emergency, however, advanced notice would make the most sense.

8. You got food poisoning.

In a true case of food poisoning, you would probably spend the entire workday in the restroom, so what would be the point of coming in or logging on? Let your manager know — while sparing the gritty details — and that you'll need to take the day to recover.  

9. Your back is sore. 

Maybe you got it from lifting at the gym, hunching over at your desk or stretching incorrectly, but a sore back requires bed rest to heal, and if you need to be in bed then you can't possibly be at work. Let your boss know that you'll be spending the day soothing your back at home — and if you already work from home, make sure they know how severe the pain is (and how it’ll affect your ability to focus and be productive)

10. You're locked out.

This actually happens! If you have a slam lock, you can accidentally close the door with your keys inside. In that case, it'll take a locksmith to come help you out. And that can take time, lots of time, perhaps a whole day. So if this reason feels like a good fit — and you don't have a key under the mat — then this may be a good one to use.

11. You're expecting a major delivery.

Big purchases, like a new couch or bed frame, will require your presence to sign for it and set it up within the home. In short, you'll need to be home for that. Movers may also give a rough time frame for arrival so you'll need to be available for hours at a time, making this a great reason to skip work.

If you’re already working from home, this isn’t as full-proof of an excuse, especially if the delivery is more drop-and-go rather than requiring a full set up.

12. You have visitors.

Take a personal day and let your boss know some visitors from out-of-town to visit you. As their [unexpected] host, you may need to arrange accommodations for them in your home or show them around which will take the whole day — and so can you!

13. You're donating blood.

This excuse is best if used in advance of your time off because a scheduled blood appointment means you'll know about it ahead of time. In real instances, you'll need some time to recover so it works as an excuse to leave early and take off the afternoon and following day.

14. You're observing a religious holiday.

First, be sure to request a religious holiday that people could actually believe you observe. Then, let your boss know in advance that you plan to miss work in observance.

15. You have a toothache.

Toothaches can be excruciating. They mean you can't eat, can barely talk and will be distracted no matter what the task. Mention these drawbacks in an email to your boss and your plan for healing it. Who knows, you may even be able to get two days out of this!

16. Your wifi is out.

For everyone working from home, wifi troubles can be extremely stressful and frustrating, especially when you’re working on a deadline or having a big presentation coming up. While some things can be done offline and you can always call into a meeting, it can also take up precious work hours to fix your wifi troubles — especially if you need someone to walk you through the troubleshooting process.

17. You need a mental health day.

Mental health is just as important as physical health — and it’s extremely important to ensure you can do your job your best. While a day off isn’t going to turn around your mental health completely, taking extra time for yourself can help you refresh and recharge — so you can show up for yourself, and for work, better.

How do you tell your boss you can't come to work?

In this order, you should let your boss know via email (for professionalism and documentation), phone call (to express the timeliness or severity of the excuse) and text message (if neither of the previous options were available to you). 

Let them know as much about your reason for not coming in as you feel comfortable sharing, and provide a solution which can include: how you'll delegate responsibilities across your team to make sure you don't skip a beat, what you will prioritize as soon as you're back and your personal phone and email that can be used to reach you in case of a work emergency.


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Stephanie Nieves is a writer and editor. Formerly, she was the SEO & Editorial Associate on the Fairygodboss team. Her words can also be found on MediumPayScale and The Muse.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for how to tell your boss you’ll be missing work? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!