8 Good Excuses to Miss Work on Short Notice (+ Sample Email)

feeling exhausted

You’re a hard worker. You always go the extra mile to do an excellent job. You follow company policy. When you need time off, you always give plenty of notice. Despite that, there are times when you need the day off because something urgent just came up. So how do you politely articulate your reasons to call out of work? 

This guide offers a quick overview of perfectly good excuses to miss work on short notice — and explains the best way to communicate the request to your employer. 

8 Good Excuses to Miss Work on a Short Notice

Do you have a good reason for calling off? It isn’t ideal to call off on short notice. However, a good boss knows that some things are unavoidable.  Here are eight legitimate excuses for taking the day off on short notice.

1. Personal Sickness

If you are not feeling well, you should never go to work. That just risks spreading illness to others. If you work remotely, you shouldn’t try to “power through” this from your couch. You won’t be doing anyone a favor by trying. 

As Trey Barnette, regional vice president at Robert Half, well sums it up

“People aren’t at 100% when they’re coming in sick, so it’s going to show within the work that they do. Employers should lead by example. If you’re sick, definitely take time off”

2. Family Emergency

It is perfectly reasonable to take a day to deal with a family emergency — family member sickness, at-home issues due to a natural disaster, or a more grave issue. When you don’t, the situation could snowball, and you might need even more time away from work. If the matters are serious, don’t hesitate to request a longer bereavement leave.

3. Household Problems

A household problem could be an emergency repair or other trouble at your home premises. Most repair companies require the homeowner to be present. Of course, a reasonable employer would be understanding about this.

4. Commute Issues

Traffic jams cause a temporary delay. However, there can be severe issues that make your commute impossible — heavy rain, snow, severe road icing, and so on. Don’t hesitate to stay safe and request a leave from work. If possible, you can offer to log in remotely. 

commuting during snow storm

5. Accident

Even if you aren’t badly injured, an accident is seriously difficult to handle. You will likely be shaky and unsure of yourself. Don’t work in that condition. Call off, and give yourself a day to recover.

6. Tech Issues

This one mostly applies to remote workers. Technical issues can prevent you from logging in for the day or maintaining a secure connection. Ask your boss for guidance. Then don’t feel guilty for taking the day off.

7. Jury Duty

Jury duty can be unpredictable. You may know when you are called at first, but you never know if you will be called to serve on a trial, or when that trial is going to be extended. Inform your employer as soon as you got the call. The federal laws require employers to provide time off for jury duty (though unpaid), but some states have laws for paid leave.  

8. Need For PTO

PTO is personal time off. It is intended to provide workers with the time off they need to take care of a variety of personal businesses. Think of this as the ‘everything else’ category. A good employer won’t prevent you from taking a paid “mental day” when you are nearing burnout and exhaustion. 

How do I Ask For Time Off Work at The Last Minute?

First, follow company policy to call off work at the last minute. Contact your supervisor or other designated person as soon as you realize the need for leave. Be polite, but direct and to the point. The more time you give them to make arrangements the better. Also, do give your boss any pertinent information that they or your sub might need for the day.

Good Excuses to Miss Work on Short Notice Sample Email

If sending an email is okay under company policy, do that. This way, things are documented. It might look something like this.

Hello [Supervisor], 

Just emailing you early to let you know I won’t be in today. The reason for my absence is (short explainer). I will return to the office tomorrow at the usual time.  

If anybody needs them, the keys to the supply closet are in the top drawer of my desk. Also, the maintenance team is coming to change the lightbulbs in the conference room this afternoon.

Thanks for your understanding,

Your Name


Whatever you do, don’t overdo things. Don’t apologize. Don’t offer to schedule your own replacement.  Don’t go into great detail about your reason for needing the day off. If you do this, you will create the impression that your right to take time off is up for debate. It shouldn’t be.

How Do I Tell My Boss I Can’t Come In Person?

Call your boss politely and as soon as possible to inform them about your absence. Briefly state your reason for requesting a last-reason leave. Keep in mind that good managers can handle changes to the staffing schedule. Don’t feel guilty about taking the time you need.

Final Thoughts

Don’t feel guilty about taking time away from work if you have an illness or emergency. This happens to the best workers. Just be sure to inform your employer as early as possible and be professional about it. Finally, don’t feel guilty, don’t take on the responsibility of managing the company’s schedule, and don’t go to work when you aren’t in any condition to be productive.


  • Elena Prokopets

    Elena runs content operations at Freesumes since 2017. She works closely with copywriters, designers, and invited career experts to ensure that all content meets our highest editorial standards. Up to date, she wrote over 200 career-related pieces around resume writing, career advice... more

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