22 Good Excuses to Leave Work Early (And How to Ask)

Leaving work early.
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At some point in your career, you may need to leave work early. This could be for personal reasons, family emergencies, or maybe you just feel the need to duck out early to enjoy the nice weather. 

Of course, honesty about why you need to leave work early or last minute is best. But I think we all have fibbed before about taking a day off or heading home early. 

Below you’ll find good excuses to leave work early, bad excuses you should avoid, and how to professionally request to leave. 

Things That May Affect Your Chance to Leave Early

Before I list some of the last minute excuses to leave work early, your success will depend on your company and their policies. 

I think we can all agree that work should not feel like prison and flexibility for appointments or working from home should not be a problem. 

Yet, we have many businesses still living in the prehistoric work age. That’s a whole different topic in itself, so I’ll move on.  

Here are some common factors that might prevent success of leaving work early, even if they are good and legit excuses.

1. Company policies

Each company has similar but differing policies regarding time off, sick leave, personal time, and even leaving work early. 

Before you have an excuse to  leave work early, you’ll want to make sure you follow procedure by the organization. You may find a strict employer and find it difficult to cut out early on the day. 

2. Your manager

Pending who you report to, this professional relationship you have may help or hurt your chances of leaving work early. If they can trust you and know you do good work, your chances of excuses to leave or work from home are much better. 

That’s still no guarantee that a supervisor will approve your excuse, as he/she could be strict and abide by policies at all times. Unfortunately, you might be stuck in this situation until you find a new job. 

3. The kind of worker you are

If you are constantly late, missing meetings and deadlines, or trying to leave early everyday – you’re going to be seen as a low performer. 

And not only will your legit excuses to leave work early be denied, you may need to worry about your job security as well. 

4. The company culture

If you work for a company with good work/life balance and strong time off policies, then your chances of leaving early or working from home rises. 

As long as you aren’t abusing their generous flexibility, your time off or leaving early will not hit any roadblocks. Hold onto companies like this as they are typically some of the best to be employed by. 

22 Common and Good Excuses to Leave Work Early

Having a good excuse to leave work early will ensure you get approval to go. Sometimes it might be an unexpected emergency or maybe you just need a mental break. 

Here are some common excuses that will typically get you heading out early.

Having a good excuse to leave work early will ensure you get approval to go. Sometimes it might be an unexpected emergency or maybe you just need a mental break. 

Here are some common excuses that will typically get you heading home early. 

1. Medical Appointment

You have an urgent doctor’s appointment that you couldn’t schedule at any other time or day.

2. Family Emergency

A sudden family crisis or emergency requires your immediate attention. 

3. Car Trouble

Your car recently broke down or had an accident, and you need to deal with repairs or insurance.

4. Home Maintenance

An urgent home maintenance issue like a water leak or electrical problem requires you home to take care of it. 

5. Illness

You’re feeling sick and believe it’s best to rest and recover at home. Could also be a good excuse to work from home for the day too. 

6. Personal Health Appointment

You have a dentist, therapist, or other essential health appointment. Keep in mind, you may need to provide proof of said appointment once you return

7. Child’s School Event

Your child has a school event or performance you need to attend. This one you’d have to feel out the type of culture and values your employer has. 

8. Pet Emergency

Your pet is really sick or injured and needs immediate veterinary care.

9. Loss of Belongings

You’ve lost your wallet, keys, or essential personal belongings and need time to locate them.

10. Banking or Legal Matters

You have urgent financial or legal matters to address.

11. Mental Health Day

You need a mental health break to manage stress or emotional well-being. As the workplace takes this area of health more seriously, it can be a legit reason to leave work early. 

12. Community Involvement

You’re committed to volunteering or participating in community service. Some employers encourage this, but again you’ll need to provide proof that’s what you were doing. 

13. Severe Weather

Extreme weather conditions (e.g., snowstorm, hurricane) make it unsafe to continue working and you want to get home before it progresses.

14. School Pickup

You need to pick up your child from school early for a legitimate reason. For example, your child is getting sick or has a doctor appointment. 

15. Religious or Cultural Observance

You need to attend a religious or cultural event or observance.

16. Mandatory Jury Duty

You’ve been called for jury duty, and it’s your legal obligation. You’ll most likely need to provide proof, so don’t use this excuse if it’s not true. 

17. Pet Emergency

Mention a pet emergency that requires your immediate attention and care.

18. Childcare Crisis

If you have children, inform your employer that your childcare arrangement has fallen through, and you must pick them up from school or daycare early.

19. Business networking activities

Pending your job and how valued networking is to your employer, this can be a great reason to get out of the office early. These activities can include participating in local chamber of commerce meetings, or attending industry events or conventions

20. Client-related obligations

Also pending your job, you can mention meeting up with a client or a new potential client to close business. 

21. Professional development activities

This could include attending a relevant workshop, leaving early for a class, or to work on a group project for a course that your supervisor has encouraged you to take. 

22. Productivity request

Maybe you are feeling a productivity drag in the office or feel distracted. One excuse to leave early could be asking to take your work to a nearby coffee shop or library to focus.  Or leaving early (when work is complete) after staying in the office very late the night before.

Bad Excuses for Leaving Work Early

Naturally, you may not really have an excuse to leave work early. Maybe you just want an afternoon break, enjoy the nice weather, or feel burned out.  

Hopefully you can be honest with your employer about wanting personal time off for the rest of the day, but I know it’s just not the way it fully is (yet!). 

While you can potentially use one of the excuses in the previous section to get out early, you want to be careful to not get caught in a lie. 

Beyond that, there are also some bad excuses that are not going to ever work on your boss. And It most likely will backfire.

  • You have another interview for another job.
  • You’re bored at work and just want to leave.
  • You want to attend a last minute event.
  • You want to go hang out with friends. 
  • You have a non-urgent errand (like grocery shopping, pickup dry cleaning, etc.).

While the above could be true, actually using those will certainly get your request denied (or worse). 

How to Professionally Ask to Leave Work Early

So how do you leave work early without getting in trouble? Again, this will certainly come back to the culture and how coworkers tend to interact. 

For example, in my last two remote jobs, I did not need to ask to leave early or take time off. Instead I just needed to give a heads up when I could and followed procedure to let the company and managers know. 

Yet, not all companies are as relaxed. Many who have great flexible policies will still require you to get a manager’s approval. Pretty standard overall. 

So here are some quick tips to ensure you ask to leave working professionally.

Know your company policies

As I mentioned early in this article, how easily you can leave early depends on the policies in place. Make sure you understand them or reach out to your HR team to get a copy of them. 

Approach your supervisor as soon as possible

Ensure you don’t wait until the last minute to connect with your manager about leaving early. Of course, sometimes something does pop up at the last minute. 

But if you know you need to duck out early, work with your supervisor to ensure they know where your work left off and where you may need project support. 

Choose the right time

While last minute emergencies might come up, generally be mindful of choosing the right time to ask to leave work early. 

If your manager is dealing with important meetings or in a bad mood, it’s probably not the right time to request to leave. Timing can be everything! 

Be proactive with your work

Always be proactive. This includes for your personal time off or leaving early. Make sure your important tasks are complete and have a plan for what won’t get done in your absence. 

By being organized and thinking ahead, your team and manager will feel more confident in you leaving early.


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About Todd Kunsman

Todd is the founder of Remote Work Junkie and has been featured in numerous publications like Business Insider, HuffPost, CNBC, and more. He’s been a remote work advocate for close to a decade and has been working remotely full-time for 5+ years. He’s also a marketing, personal finance, and music nerd 🤓

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