Looking for a new job and need a day off to keep up with the applications? Perhaps you are just feeling a little under the weather and you need a break. Everyone needs time off from work at times and the excuses for doing so can range from the believable to the unbelievable. Or you might want to take time off to start your online business on the side.

Whatever your real reason for staying home, here are the best and the worst excuses you can give for missing work.


The employment market isn’t all that sunny right now and employees are doing everything they can to hold on to their jobs. The phenomenon of “presenteeism”, which means showing up even when you shouldn’t, is real.

However, there are legitimate reasons for staying home. Sometimes you don’t even need to be actually sick to call in sick for a day – having a break in this hectic world shouldn’t be a crime.

What makes an excuse a good one?

But what are these elusive good excuses? There are three layers to a good excuse:

  • The foundation of a good excuse is about being believable. You won’t be able to get away without questions and follow-ups if your excuse sounds more like a science fiction book than a reason to stay home. Aliens landing on your back garden is not believable while catching flu is something all humans go through at some point.
  • The second layer of a good excuse is being considerate. While you are staying home and causing disruption in the workplace, a good excuse will always show a bit of selflessness. Your excuse should always be about not having another option – you need to make it like you can’t find another solution to your current state and you just have to stay home.
  • Finally, your excuse must have a layer honesty. Now, this doesn’t mean you need to tell the whole truth – after all, we are talking about excuses here. You still want to have a hint of honesty in the excuse to make it sound more believable and considerate. For example, you might not have an actual family emergency on hand but you still want to spend some time with your grandmother who’s visiting from far away.

The top 6 best excuses

So, if you need to stay home to look for a new job or recharge your batteries, here are the best excuses managers love to hear.

1. You deserve it

Have you worked hard in the past few months and achieved all your goals? How about you go straight to the point and say you deserve a day off just because you’ve been performing like a champion.

Of course, this excuse only works if you’ve actually been doing well – you need to have shown up earlier, done extra work and helped your co-workers to pull this off. However, it’s a great excuse and one that might leave your boss speechless. If your performance is good, there’s nothing to argue with you!

2. You are sick (including mental health issues)

Calling in and saying your sick is an age-old excuse but it works. Everyone will have an upset stomach at times or a slight cough that makes them feel unable to talk – your boss won’t be asking for a doctor’s note for a bit of sickness. Contagious diseases like the common flu are especially good excuses – your boss doesn’t want you to make everyone sick!

With mental health issues becoming a subject employer’s take seriously, you can even use that as a reason for a day off. Feeling anxious can be an excuse for staying home for a day. In fact, your boss might be less likely to think you’re lying if you say you need some time due to depression or anxiety.

However, you can’t use the excuse too often or every single time without it starting to sound a bit too suspicious. You also don’t want to make your sickness sound too dramatic – no one really recovers from pneumonia in one day!

3. You have a family emergency

Another familiar and common excuse is the family emergency excuse. If you have children, then you could tell the boss one of them is sick or needs special attention.

You might even get away with a family emergency with your spouse or parents – bosses don’t generally want to start asking too many questions about your personal life and they will let you get away with staying home for a day.

4. You have a household emergency

You might just have woken up feeling a little cold but tell your boss you have a broken heating system to get a day off. A household emergency such as things being broken or leaking can work as an excuse to stay home. Many household problems can’t wait and you can’t fix them without being at home.

Another good reason here is saying you’re waiting for a delivery. While a pizza delivery isn’t a valid excuse, you might have a new appliance or furniture coming in and your boss should understand you need to be home to accept it.

5. You can’t get to work due to bad weather/non-working public transport

For this good excuse to work it actually has to be true because your boss will know if you are lying. Saying you’re snowed in the house won’t really work if it’s not true – your boss could just check the weather to find out you’re lying.

However, if the weather is rather severe or the public transport is not working properly, you can definitely use it as an excuse for staying home. Even if it isn’t actually impossible to get to work, you can just whip it up as an excuse and do something productive at home instead.

6. You’re working from home/out of office

A great clever excuse for staying home is to say you’ll be working from home. You don’t need to spend the whole day on your mission – just do enough things to prove to your boss you did get things done and have the rest of the day to yourself. You’ll also save time on the commute so even if you work (or apply to jobs!), you can still have a more relaxing day.

This is also a great excuse for those who manage clients. You can just say you are taking the client out. You can simply have lunch with them and spend the rest of the day doing other things.


But there are excuses you shouldn’t use as well. These will probably only end up getting you in trouble or you’ll be answering a lot of questions once you do show up to work.

When is an excuse bad?

Just as there are three layers to a good excuse, there are three elements to a bad excuse. You know your excuse is bad if it:

  • Has the main layer of being unbelievable. If the excuse is a crazy story that takes 15-minutes to explain, then you won’t get a pass with it. Something that sounds stupid as an excuse will simply make your boss laugh and say ‘no’. As mentioned above, an alien landing from the sky won’t sound like a reason to skip work because it probably isn’t happening.
  • Mainly sounds selfish. If your excuse is just about you and your wellbeing it might end up making the boss sound mad. While you might deserve to lie in the bed all day long, it will still cause disruption at work. If you sound like you don’t care about work with your excuse, your boss might react more negatively to your claims. You might get to stay home but your boss might be disappointed in you and it could hinder your career in the long-term.
  • It has a layer of outrageous lies. If your excuse sounds like an obvious lie, then it obviously is the worst excuse ever. Saying your child is sick when you don’t even have one is just plain stupid.

The top 6 worst excuses

Here are the six worst excuses you can give to your boss when you miss work.

1. You’re too tired/bored

Feeling tired or bored is not really an excuse to stay home. You definitely want to color your excuse a little – just claim you are sick even if you just can’t be bothered.

Your boss won’t appreciate your honesty in this case but might instead offer you some more C-vitamin to boost your energy levels. So, use one of the six excuses above and start looking for a job that doesn’t make you bored!

2. You’ve been at a party/going to one

You do know your work schedule, right? That means you shouldn’t end up partying the night before if you know you’ll have a hangover the next day. It’s not responsible to party when you have work the next day and using it as an excuse just won’t fly with bosses.

3. Your vehicle won’t start

A broken vehicle is a rather lame excuse although it’s a common one to use. Why does it suck as an excuse? Because you could just take out your smartphone and get an Uber instead of skipping work.

Taxi-hailing apps are not that costly – in fact, your boss might even offer to reimburse you for the journey if you say the car won’t start. If you live in the city, then public transport is another option. If you just choose to stay at home, your boss might start questioning your commitment to work and feel like it’s time for a discussion.

4. You can’t handle the workload

Don’t use busy work schedule as an excuse to stay home. If you’re actually suffering from the workload, bring up the topic with your boss and see what can be done. If you excuse yourself for this reason, you’re just going to end up with a lot more work and push the workload to your colleagues.

Both of which won’t make you look like a good colleague. Again, it’s much better to claim you’re simply sick than to say you can’t handle the projects.

5. Your alarm didn’t work

The oldest excuse in the book is to say your alarm didn’t work. But sleeping longer doesn’t really mean you need to miss the whole day, right? You could just get up and go to work for the rest of the day. The excuse is simply lazy and ineffective – it will land you in more trouble than saying you had a family emergency even when you didn’t.

6. You’re too cold or too hot

It might sound silly but people have actually claimed to have to miss work because they feel too hot or cold at work. It’s actually not a completely valid reason to miss work and it’s a poor excuse as well.

You probably have a wardrobe at home and your boss is likely to tell you to use it if this is your problem! Simply wear more clothing if you’re cold and less clothing if you’re hot.

+1. You’ve had a death in the family (when you haven’t!)

Finally, there is one bonus excuse you never-ever want to use and that’s someone’s death. Now, it’s OK to take time off work if you’ve actually had a death in the family or you need to attend a funeral. However, you should never claim someone has died when they actually haven’t.

This is simply a horrible excuse – not only does it trick people into being sympathetic when you’re lying but it’s also horrible play on the most personal of emotions – it’s disrespectful towards anyone who has ever lost a loved one.


You do sometimes find yourself having to skip work. It might be because you ended up having a party when you shouldn’t or because you are currently hoping to find a better workplace. You can’t always reveal the reason and as the above examples show, neither should you always tell the truth.

A good excuse isn’t necessarily a lie but it’s most important quality is to be a believable excuse. You can’t make outrageous stories and then be surprised when the boss wants a better explanation.

So, if you are going to have to miss work make sure your excuses stick. You don’t want to get into further trouble by giving a stupid reason for not showing up. Either you go to work or you use one of the best excuses and give your boss no reason to doubt your story. And remember, you don’t want to use excuses all the time!

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