8 good reasons to miss work (and how to tell your boss)


People's lives change daily and we all need time for non-work obligations or recovery, but many are concerned about appearing unprofessional or facing consequences for absence from the workplace.

We're here to inform you about some of the perfectly acceptable reasons for missing a workday, as well as the best ways to let your manager know you won’t be around.

1. You’re too sick to work

This is, without a doubt, the most common excuse for missing work, and it is not always an unacceptable one.

In most cases, you may only have a common cold that you can get through to go to work, but there is always the possibility that you have a more serious problem on your hands.

Your boss would most likely prefer that you stay at home instead of potentially spreading whatever flu you're currently carrying, or simply recover so you can do your job properly without exacerbating your illness.

There's a chance you'll need a doctor's note to "prove" you're truly ill, especially if you're unable to work for more than a day. In this situation, feel free to go to your local clinic and get proof as well as any necessary treatment.

2. There’s a family emergency

Another common reason that typically comes up is a family emergency that has appeared out of nowhere.

Anything can happen to a family member, such as a grandparent falling or your child being sent home from school after an accident. It's best to deal with it as soon as possible, even if it means leaving work.

As you don't need to provide details about what happened in most cases, some people use it as an excuse to leave work early. We advise against this as your boss will most likely become suspicious at some point, and something genuine may arise later. Also, you may be asked about the situation later on when things have calmed down.

3. You have a doctor’s appointment

Whether you're concerned about a potential health issue, need a checkup, or require treatment for an already-diagnosed medical condition, you may need to see a doctor.

Most medical appointments take place during the standard 9 to 5 workday, so you may need to take some time off to attend.

It's always a good idea to have proof of the appointment in case a manager is skeptical about whether you really need to see a doctor. However, in most cases, you should be fine, especially since many doctors' offices only schedule appointments on the day you contact them.

Just be sure to remember that your health is always a priority.

4. You’ve been called up for jury duty

Many countries randomly select members of the public to serve as jurors in criminal trials, a practice known as “jury duty” or “jury service.”

If you are called up, your attendance is typically legally required and can last for days, weeks, or even months, so you will most likely have to “lose” work hours.

Because you are legally required to participate, your employer must grant you time off for jury duty, though they may not be required to pay you depending on your location. If you are not paid, you may be able to file a claim in court for lost earnings.

5. You have military obligations

If you are currently serving in the military as a reserve, such as the US National Guard, you may be required to attend regular drills and training sessions.

These activities will most likely occur during your regular working week, which is a perfectly valid reason to skip work for a day or two. Given the importance of attending training, your boss will most likely understand your absence.

Some countries, including the United States, even have laws in place to prevent employers from denying time off for military service, and it is recommended that businesses in such countries implement a military leave policy.

6. You have a house maintenance emergency

Another situation that everyone is likely to face at some point is the need to address a home-related issue as soon as possible, such as a burst water pipe or a gas leak.

If something goes wrong at home, you may need time to monitor the situation or supervise the experts handling it, which you obviously cannot do while at work.

Most employers would prefer you leave to avoid further damage to your property or family. Just don't use this as an excuse to vacuum before a family visit!

7. You’re suffering from transport issues

For a lot of people, the workplace isn't within walking distance, so they have to drive or jump on a bus or train to get there.

However, as with everything else in life, you might run into problems such as your car breaking down, transportation strikes, or poor weather, making getting to work seemingly impossible.

Don't expect this to give you a free pass to do nothing all day, as you may be asked to find another way to work, such as starting later or working remotely if your role requires the use of a computer.

8. You’re moving house

Someone rarely stays in the same home for the entirety of their lives, and the process of moving is no small feat.

It’s certainly preferred that you schedule the moving process outside of work hours, but if you have a specific date by which you must leave your current home, you may need to use whatever time you have.

You may need to explain to your boss why you need time off for a move, and even then, they are not required to permit you to miss work. However, if the situation is genuinely urgent, such as responding to damage caused by a natural disaster or an eviction, you are likely to get a pass.

Reasons you shouldn’t use as excuses to miss work

As we've already discussed, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to miss work or start your day later than usual. However, there are some you should probably avoid bringing up when looking for some time off.

Being dissatisfied with your job or having conflicts with your coworkers is typically not a valid excuse to call off. Instead, you should try to work things out on your own or speak with your boss or HR to resolve any issues.

Another common but generally unwelcome reason is tiredness. Everyone should be entitled to mental health days, but staying up later than usual and feeling worn out the next day is regarded as irresponsible and lazy. If there's a genuine health-related reason for you feeling exhausted, then make sure to make your boss aware of this in advance.

How to tell your boss you can’t come to work

So, you have your reason for calling off, but now comes the difficult part: telling your employer that you can’t make it to work.

Giving your manager a call or sending them a message through workplace software such as Slack before your shift is the most common way to inform them. If you’ve woken up feeling under the weather, be sure to notify them as soon as you can so they're aware.

It's even more professional if you can reach a colleague ahead of time to cover your shift if you work set hours, and then inform your boss that you already have a replacement lined up for them.

For other, less sudden reasons, warn your employer right away. It will benefit both you and the company to know that you have gotten approval and that you will be absent for a specified period.

You can also let them know that you’re able to do some things such as check emails or continue with other time-sensitive activities if it isn’t a hassle. It’s always a good look if you can keep on top of things if you’re well enough and in the position to do so.


We hope we've made it very clear that you're perfectly entitled to time off from work for reasons that are simply too important to ignore. Being a human is not unprofessional as long as you take responsibility and are conscientious about things.

Best of luck, and take care of yourselves!