10 professional excuses to leave work early

August 23, 2022  •  Reading Time: 10 min.

Sometimes it can’t be avoided: You have to head home from work early.

Yes, an upset stomach is always a great excuse and probably won’t be questioned further. But what about other appropriate excuses for leaving the workplace before work time is officially over?

In this article, you’ll learn some facts about leaving work early (such as whether you’re allowed to do it at all and how to tell your boss), and we’ll also give you some good excuses for taking an early leave. However, that doesn’t mean you should use them in turns because you’re bored at work and just want to stay home.

We simply want to give you some insight into what reasons are appropriate and what might not be so great to tell your supervisor.

⚠️ By the way: If you always have to go home early because you feel you are working in a toxic environment, don’t hesitate to do something about it! In this step-by-step guide, we have compiled useful tips for you on how to leave a toxic work environment.

Can I go home early from work?

Many employees dread finding excuses to leave work early.

This is because they often don’t know what kind of reasons are valid and accepted in a professional environment. They also don’t want to let their colleagues down. But yes, you can definitely leave early sometimes, and no one will blame you.

male employee with questioning face

So if you want to request an early leave for personal or professional reasons, there are appropriate ways to do so while being professional and courteous to your employer.

How do I tell my manager that I have to get off work early?

If you feel unwell or some other reason suddenly came up, you should go directly to your supervisor and tell them about it. You do not need to provide a detailed story, just let your manager know that you need to head home for today.

If it is still possible for you, you should try to make the necessary arrangements, such as delegating your work duties while you are away.

If you know a few days in advance that you will need to leave work early on a particular day, put it on your calendar (so people can see that you will be gone for, say, the last hour or two hours of your normal workday). Even if you have no strict working hours, it’s good to inform your colleagues about the fact, too.

Can my supervisor prevent me from leaving early?

If you request time off on short notice, your manager may try to prevent you from leaving early, especially if you absolutely must stay on-site (for example, because you are a wedding planner and in charge of the entire organization that day).

However, most employers definitely do not mind letting you leave work early if you are really sick or have a family emergency.

Only if you don’t have a valid reason, your supervisor may actually not allow you to go home for the day.

male business employee leaving work

Are there any valid reasons other than health issues for leaving work early?

You have a doctor’s appointment? That is always a great reason and an acceptable excuse to leave early.

What about other issues? Are taking care of a child at home or even a sick pet also acceptable reasons and good excuses to leave the office earlier than usual?

Yes! Definitely.

For example:

  • Mental health issues
  • An important family event
  • A networking event
  • A broken refrigerator or car

These are all good excuses to leave work early. More on this right here:

The 10 best excuses to leave early and stay professional

We’ve created a list of the ten best excuses you can give when you want to leave the office or go home from your workplace a little early. To make it easier for you, we have also included some useful tips on how to communicate the respective reason in a professional and polite way.

#1 Medical appointment

An upcoming doctor’s appointment is always a great excuse and does not need to be explained in detail.

However, most bosses will appreciate it if you let them know as early as possible. That is, if you know you have to leave work on a certain day in the upcoming week, inform them and don’t just notify them when you’re already leaving.

#2 Sick leave

Have you had an upset stomach or a pounding headache since the early morning?

If you are not feeling well or even in severe pain, don’t hesitate to call it quits for the day. Simply take a sick day and go home to rest. You may then need to provide your employer with a doctor’s note if you are ill for a few days, so don’t forget to do that.

📝 Note: Physical problems are one of the most common excuses for leaving early. There is definitely nothing wrong with saying that you have menstrual pain, for example, and need to go home.

💡 Tip: Even if you are not feeling well mentally, you can pretend that you have physical pain so that you can head home without further questions.

#3 Issue with a family member

It may not be you who is unwell, but a close family member of yours.

There is no question that you can go there immediately if, for example, someone in your family is in the hospital, no matter how many hours of work you still have ahead of you that day.

📝 Note: It is not always the case that a family member is seriously injured, and you therefore have a “good” reason. If you think that your employer does not understand the situation, you can also give your own condition as an excuse.

young woman visiting grandma in hospital

#4 Child care

Is your child a good reason to excuse yourself from work?

If your kid is ill and needs to be picked up from school or kindergarten, there is no question that you can leave early to do so. However, if you often have to go extremely early because there is no one to take care of your children, this may become a problem at work.

💡 Tip: If you are confronted with such problems, do not hesitate to talk openly about it with your employer. That way, they will know why you leave early so often, and perhaps you can find a solution together.

#5 Networking or business event

Are you going to a business gathering later in the evening that can also be considered work?

That is certainly also a reason for you to finish work a little earlier that day. Maybe you have to get ready or even go out of town for the event, so it’s good to have a little extra time. Just make sure your supervisor knows about it and gives their approval.

#6 Mental health issues

If you just feel exhausted and need some rest, you can also go home earlier.

For many employers, this is a perfectly understandable situation, and since they don’t want you to get ill for the long term, they will most likely give you a day or two off.

💡 Tip: If you do not want to explain that you are feeling mentally exhausted at the moment, you can, as already mentioned, use another illness as an excuse or simply present a doctor’s note.

#7 Consultation with a medical professional

Do you need to go to physiotherapy or psychotherapy?

Most medical professionals do not work outside of normal office hours. This means that you may have to ask to leave work early or take a longer lunch break.

💡 Tip: If you don’t want to tell your employer the reason for your extended lunch hour, you can simply state that you have a medical appointment.

📝 Note: Your boss might expect you to make up the hours you lost during your treatments. It’s best to clarify any ambiguities in this regard in advance, so you don’t get in trouble for taking a particularly long break each week.

#8 Family event

Is there a wedding you need to attend or another important event in your family?

If it’s not a significant amount of missed work that day, and you have a good relationship with your supervisor and colleagues, this is also an excuse to leave work early.

📝 Note: On a regular basis, this usually doesn’t work. You can’t take time off from your job every other week just to attend a function.

#9 Something is broken

There is a sudden home emergency?

Maybe there’s a burst water pipe or something else that needs your attention right away. There may also be a handyman coming by to fix something. This is usually a good reason to leave work early and is not likely to be questioned by your supervisor.

#10 Availability for deliveries

Are you expecting an important package?

Perhaps you have ordered a new refrigerator or other large household appliances that you cannot take delivery of at work. This is a valid reason to go home early. Just make sure you let your manager know and make up the missed hours later.

young woman receiving important package

Excuses to leave work early – some concluding remarks

If you’ve just started a new job – 💡don’t forget to check out our best tips for career starters who have just aced their job interview – it might not be that easy to ask for time off.

After all, you probably haven’t earned your manager’s trust yet, and if you simply ask to leave early because you want to go to a wedding that day, they might deny your request. However, most employers are quite understanding of reasons such as family medical emergencies or childcare issues and will let you off work on short notice.

📝 Note: Your personal well-being always comes first even if you are a newbie at the company and want to prove yourself.

A very important factor is your company’s culture. If it is rather task-oriented, it may be much easier to leave early if you can prove that you can still complete work.

smiling business women chatting

So let’s take one last look at good excuses for leaving work early that won’t get you in trouble and still allow you to appear professional:

  • Injury at your workplace
  • Illness that requires immediate medical attention
  • Death in your family or among friends
  • Weather or other issues that prevent you from getting to work safely
  • Problems that result in unsafe working conditions
  • Equipment you depend on doesn’t work or needs maintenance
  • A simple cut while working in a medical setting or doing food service work

📝 Note: Simple life tasks or other duties (e.g., a remodeling project or the like) in your personal life are generally not a good excuse for leaving work early; you must have a valid reason.

female employee leaving work

Excuses to leave work early – FAQ

How can I leave work early without getting in trouble?

If you have good reasons, you can usually leave your job early, for example, for a physician’s appointment, an upset stomach, or even a home invasion!

What is the best excuse for a leave?

A personal illness is usually one of the best excuses for an absence.

Can I leave work early without permission?

Normally, you are not allowed to leave your workplace just like that. If it cannot be avoided, you should explain the reason to your supervisor as soon as possible.

How can I leave the office early when I am sick?

Simply let your boss know that you are not feeling well and then make sure to get some rest at home.