13 Good Excuses for Leaving Work Early

We all have those days when we’re stuck at the office but really need or want to head out early. Coming up with a rock-solid excuse on the fly can be tough when your boss asks why you’re in such a hurry to leave.

That’s why I’ve put together this list of convincing excuses you can use when you need to make an early exit from work. With the right reason and delivery, your manager will be wishing you well as you stroll out the door.

Medical Appointment

One of the most common and accepted reasons to leave work early is having a medical appointment. Whether it’s a doctor, dentist, therapist, or other health-related appointment, this excuse is hard to argue with.

If possible, give advance notice that you have an upcoming appointment rather than springing it on your boss last minute. Provide basic details like the doctor or facility name if asked, but maintain some privacy. And resist the urge to use a fake appointment too frequently.

Family Emergency

Family emergencies happen and most reasonable bosses will send you on your way with their best wishes. You can keep it vague by saying you have a family emergency that requires you to leave immediately. Sighing heavily and looking genuinely concerned helps sell the act.

Waiting for Service Person

If you’re expecting the cable guy, appliance repair technician, plumber, or other service provider to show up, you’ve got a great excuse to leave work early. Simply explain you scheduled an appointment during a certain window so you need to be home when they arrive. Who wants to pay for waiting around on a service call?

Feeling Sick

The classic “I’m not feeling well” tends to be accepted without too much pushback or suspicion. Sell it by looking fatigued, massaging your temples, sniffling/coughing, and mentioning you need to go home and rest. As long as you don’t overuse this one, your boss will likely send you home to recover.

Car Troubles

Car issues like a dead battery, flat tire, or not starting properly make for a solid early exit excuse. Managers don’t want you stuck dealing with a temperamental vehicle and will be sympathetic to car troubles. You can even ask if you can wait in the office until the tow truck/locksmith/repair shop comes if it’s just an excuse.

Forgotten Obligation

We all have brain farts and forget about scheduled appointments or obligations. Whether you “completely blanked” that you have a meeting with your child’s teacher or an appointment across town, this excuse works in a pinch. Act embarrassed about your lack of organization, thank your boss profusely, and scurry away.

Work From Home

If leaving entirely is out of the question, see if working from home for the rest of the day is an option. Maybe you’re not feeling 100% or have to wait for a repair person. Frame it as wanting to minimize disruption to your productivity by working remotely.

Waiting on Important Delivery

Needing to be present to sign for or collect an important package delivery is hard to argue with. Just vaguely mention you’re expecting delivery of a time-sensitive or valuable item soon. Your boss shouldn’t mind since you’re not completely cutting out.

Bad Weather Conditions

If there’s a severe storm, flooding, whiteout blizzard, or other intense weather conditions, it’s totally reasonable to want to head home early. Express your concern about the forecast and that you want to get somewhere safely. At most, they may ask you to work remotely if possible.

Lost Pet

What boss wants to come between you and your fur baby? If your cat slipped out the door or dog chewed through their leash making a break for it, most managers will let you leave immediately with their best wishes of finding your lost companion quickly and safely.

Childcare Issue

Claim your regular childcare provider had an unexpected emergency come up and you need to leave immediately to pick up your kids early. What manager wants to fight you when urgent childcare issues arise? Keep the details vague but sound stressed that you need to urgently get your children.

House Emergency

Vaguely explain that you just got a call that there is a pressing issue at your home requiring your immediate attention. For example, a major appliance malfunctioned and flooded the kitchen, or you have a backed-up plumbing leak damaging your home. Sound genuinely alarmed and concerned.

Migraine Headache

Cite a sudden, severe, debilitating migraine headache as the reason you need to leave work right away. Migraines can be excruciating and nearly impossible to work through. Your boss will likely be sympathetic to your plight and send you home to rest in a dark room until it passes.

Tips for Using Early Leave Excuses Smoothly

  • Give as much advance notice as possible rather than abruptly springing your excuse on your boss last minute. This shows consideration.
  • Offer to make up the time if feasible by coming in early, staying late, or working remotely.
  • Thank your manager sincerely for being understanding and accommodating. Show you appreciate their flexibility.
  • Don’t repeatedly use the same exact excuse. Mix it up so it seems like a one-off event.
  • Sell it with your delivery. Sound and look convincing by sighing, frowning, looking concerned, etc.
  • Provide additional reasonable details if questioned but don’t overexplain or get defensive.
  • Don’t take advantage and use excuses too frequently. Maintain your reputation as a reliable employee.
  • Evaluate if you really need to leave. Is it something you can postpone or push through? Don’t cry wolf.

With this list of good excuses for leaving work early, you’ll be prepared to make a convincing case whenever you need to sneak out of the office ahead of schedule. Just be sure to use them judiciously rather than taking advantage of your manager’s goodwill too often.