Navigating Unexpected Events: 15 Excuses to Call out of Work

Sometimes unforeseen circumstances can arise that may prevent an employee from coming to work. In such situations, you need to solve your personal issues first rather than going to work. A family emergency and physical pain are two valid reasons to take the day off. And there are more reasons than these two; think about being ill with a cold or having an intense fever and head pain.

As employees, we should not be afraid to call out of work. We should consider such situations to improve work-life balance, and as an employer, as a method to boost productivity, well-being, and focus.

Studies validate this claim for good. Working when unwell has a detrimental effect on your work output. Even if you are at work, if you are not totally present, you will undoubtedly make mistakes or do subpar work.

Remember, it's a valid reason for calling out of work if you're not feeling well, even when you're working remotely. In the list below, we provide the most typical good reasons for missing work, followed by more details for each one of them.

Good reasons: to miss work

Find below a set of good excuses to miss work on short notice.

  1. Illness
  2. Family emergency
  3. Car trouble
  4. Inclement weather
  5. Jury duty
  6. Mental health
  7. Bereavement
  8. Doctor's appointment
  9. Home repair
  10. Religious observance
  11. Childcare issues
  12. Work-related injury
  13. Military service
  14. Personal reasons
  15. Commuting issues

Let's go into detail for each one of the acceptable reasons for calling off or missing work:

1.    Illness

Employees who are sick and contagious should remain at home to prevent spreading the sickness to coworkers. Employees need to take care of their health and well-being, including staying home when they are not feeling well. In this category, we might consist of food poisoning or a cold. Remember, if you're unsure if this is a valid excuse to take a day off, call your manager, and explain the situation.

If you need more than two days to recover, you might need a doctor's note. 

Tip: Looking for a sick leave request letter? Look no further because we share it with you free of charge.

2.    Family emergency

Sometimes, unexpected family emergencies can arise, such as a sick child or a relative in the hospital. In such cases, employees may need to take time off to attend to the emergency.

3.    Car trouble

If an employee's car breaks down on the way to work, they may be unable to make it on time. This is a valid reason for missing work if the employee communicates the situation to their supervisor. There are also aspects like a flat tire that doesn't require you to be off one day and some oil changes that can be done over the weekend. 

4.    Inclement weather

In areas where severe weather conditions are common, such as blizzards or hurricanes, it may be unsafe for employees to travel to work. In such cases, it is acceptable for employees to stay home.

5.    Jury duty

If an employee is called for jury duty, they are required by law to attend. Employers are compelled by law to permit workers to take time off for jury duty, and the employee cannot be penalized for fulfilling this civic duty.

6.    Mental health day

Employees may need to take a day off for mental health reasons. This is a valid reason for missing work since mental health is as vital as physical health.

7.    Bereavement 

If an employee experiences the loss of a loved one, they may need to take time off to grieve and attend funeral services.

8.    Doctor's appointment

If an employee has a scheduled doctor's appointment, it is acceptable for them to take time off for the appointment. It is important for employees to prioritize their health and wellness.

9.    Home repair

If an unexpected home repair or maintenance issue arises, an employee may need to take time off to solve the problem.

10.    Religious observance

If an employee's religious beliefs require them to observe certain holidays or ceremonies, they may need to take time off work to do so. Employers are legally required to accommodate employees' religious beliefs.

11.    Childcare issues

If an employee's child care falls through, they may need to take time off to care for their child.

12.    Work-related injury

If an employee is injured on the job, they may need to take time off to recover and receive medical treatment.

13.    Military service

If an employee is a member of the military reserves or National Guard, they may be required to attend military training or be called to active duty.

14.    Personal reasons

Employees may need to take time off for personal reasons, such as attending a wedding or graduation.

15.    Commuting issues

If an employee experiences unexpected commuting issues, such as a train delay or accident, they may be unable to make it to work on time.

A personal example from one of our coworkers: During winter, it was snowing, and public transportation stopped due to a three-day strike. The employee called the manager and explained the situation, explaining that he would continue to work from home without having to reflect too much about how he will arrive at work. The manager understood the situation and accepted the request quickly.

Relevant resource: Work from-home request email.

Reasons to call out of work last minute

Ok, it might happen that you didn't have time to submit a time-off request a few days in advance as the internal policies recommend. Yet, such situations are legitimate and need to be managed efficiently. Here are such excuses: 

1.    Sudden illness 

If an employee wakes up feeling sick or becomes ill during the day, it may be necessary for them to call out of work last minute.

2.    Family emergency

If a family emergency arises suddenly, an employee may need to call out of work to attend to the emergency.

3.    Car trouble

If an employee's car breaks down on the way to work, they may need to call out of work last minute.

4.    Inclement weather

If severe weather conditions arise suddenly, such as a sudden snowstorm or tornado warning, it may be necessary for employees to call out of work last minute.

5.    Childcare issues

If a childcare provider cancels last minute, an employee may need to call out of work to care for their child.

Tip: Do you want to know how to write an excuse letter or an email to notify your manager of your reason for missing work? We do provide a set of messages you can use in case of sickness, family matters, emergency, or an important matter. Check them out.

Reasons to avoid giving for missing work

Since we provided so many situations in which it is ok to call out of work, we would like to share some opposites. More example, some reasons that are not valid to give to your managers when missing work because they will have some dire repercussions:

1.    Vacation 

It is unacceptable to call out of work and claim a vacation day if the employee has not received prior approval for the time off.

2.    Hangover

Calling out of work due to a hangover is not a valid reason and can lead to disciplinary action.

3.    Personal errands

It is not acceptable to call out of work to run personal errands.

4.    Lack of motivation

Calling out of work because an employee does not feel motivated to go to work is unacceptable and can lead to disciplinary action.

5.    Job interview

Calling out of work to attend a job interview for another company is also unacceptable.

How to call out of work?

Employees who need to call out of work should follow their company's protocol. This may involve calling a supervisor or human resources representative, filling out a form, or using an online system to request time off. 

It is important for employees to communicate the reason for their absence clearly and to give as much notice as possible. This allows the employer to make arrangements for coverage if necessary. If the employee is sick, they should inform their employer of their symptoms and follow company protocols for returning to work after an illness. 

If the absence is for a planned event, such as a scheduled vacation or doctor's appointment, the employee should inform the employer as soon as possible. It is also important for employees to be professional and courteous when calling out of work, as this reflects positively on their work ethic and attitude.

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