14 Top Reasons To Call Out Of Work [Good and Bad]

Reasons to call out of work

The question of when you are too sick to work is common. However, according to current research, many workers will not call in sick or for another acceptable reason due to guilt, particularly if they work at home.

What would be a good reason to miss work? In the minds of some, physical pain or a medical emergency is the only acceptable reason for taking time off.

As a matter of fact, there are several reasons why you may need to take time off. Whether you are suffering from a bad cold or need to take a mental health day, taking time to rest is okay.

Here we check out other common legitimate excuses to call out of work:

  • Mental Health Day
  • Benefits Of Taking A Mental Health Day
  • Boost Your Productivity

The feeling of being productive may come from overworking yourself, but overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion can lead to burnout, leading to diminished productivity, both professionally and personally, which can be dangerous. It is easier to focus and motivate yourself after a day of decompression, which we all need from time to time.

Find Out What You Love And Reconnect With It

We are all busy with life in general, whether it be personal life with children, studies, or general housekeeping. People and activities that you love are hard to find time for. With a mental health day, you can temporarily get away from the things negatively impacting your mental well-being to reconnect with your passions.

Take A Break And Recharge

Sleep is essential to perform well mentally and be in good mental health. However, we often fall behind when swamped with work and stress. The mental health day allows you to catch up on missed sleep, recharging your batteries in preparation for returning to your regular routine with fresh employee engagement.

Self-Care Is Important

Self-care is important reasons to call out sick for work

Recognizing when you feel overwhelmed and exhausted cannot be overstated. Today is the perfect time to pamper yourself by doing something you enjoy or engaging in a hobby. Taking time for self-care and engaging in things you enjoy will put you in a better position to succeed.

How To Take A Mental Health Day

Reasons to call out of work how to take a mental health day

A mental health day is no more difficult to request than regular sick time. However, you must remember that your mental health is equally important to your physical health.

Your right to take a mental health day is absolutely yours, but how you request it is based on your workplace culture. Be familiar with your company’s leave policies before you submit a leave request – each company has its own policies, and you want to ensure that your request will be approved.

You Can Explore Some Viable Options With These Tips:

1. Embrace the day because you deserve it. Your supervisor will be able to better understand your needs and understand what you are trying to accomplish. It’s helpful to name your stressors, and then you will know what to focus on when you take a break.

2. Read about the leave policies at your workplace. This can be found in the employee handbook. When you have more than 50 employees, or if you have a federal contract, the federal labor code protects you from labor laws. It prevents employers from penalizing employees for mental health breaks. In some workplaces, taking a mental health day is as easy as getting sick. Before you request a mental health day, learn your rights.

3. Do not share anything you are not comfortable sharing. It is normal for your workplace to be less accommodating if you need time off for mental health, so do not worry about over-explaining. You should get away with saying you have a personal matter to attend to. However, if you are comfortable explaining your reason for taking the day off to your supervisor, feel free to. If you want to communicate with your supervisor effectively, it helps if you figure out what you plan to say first, ensuring your request is clear. Following the approval of your request, you can begin planning what you want to achieve or get done.

Family Emergency

Family emergency reasons to call out of work

Examples And Guidelines For Taking Time Off For Family Emergencies

There is a unique dynamic in every family, and different families may define family emergencies differently. However, death and environmental danger are the two biggest threats.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) outlines the conditions that constitute a family crisis for medical or health-related reasons.

It applies to all government agencies, schools, both public and private, and businesses with more than 50 employees.

In accordance with the FMLA, businesses must provide eligible employees with unpaid leave for family emergencies up to 12 weeks per year. Family emergencies may include any of the following, whether they are ongoing or emergent:

  • An employee’s newborn child is born and cared for.
  • Children adopted by or fostered by employees.
  • The responsibility of caring for a member of one’s immediate family suffering from a serious illness.
  • An employee who is sick and unable to work can take medical leave.
  • You are caring for a family member involved in a car or work accident.
  • When a close family member or close friend dies.
  • Natural disasters or other dangers that threaten the livelihood or life of a family member.
  • Threats of damage to another person’s mental or physical well-being.

It may be possible for you to take time off, take paid leave, or work remotely under these situations, depending on your work rules.

Strategies For Dealing With Family Emergencies At Work

Reasons to call out of work strategies for dealing with family emergencies at work

Let Your Employer And/Or Boss Know

Most crises will negatively impact your work since they consume time and energy. When your work is likely to be affected, you need to let your boss know.

Even if you think you are okay and dealing with work fine, let your boss know so they can intervene if they notice you might not be doing well. We cannot always see how we act or appear. It is good when someone notices we might not be ok when we think we are. Let your employer know immediately so they have as much notice as possible.

Keep Your Sharing To A Minimum

Keep your sharing to a minimum reasons to call out of work

If you choose to share, or if the issue is so disruptive that it cannot be avoided, carefully choose your words. Provide details without going overboard, especially in situations where the other party might feel uncomfortable. The line between providing too much and insufficient information must be drawn carefully.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Get The Best Of You. Stay Positive

Act with poise and positivity every day. Do not let your emotions get out of control. Try to wait until you have calmed your nerves and had a chance to reflect on the situation before speaking with your employer. Nothing is worse than breaking down into tears in your boss’s office. A trusted friend can be helpful if you practice what you’ll say beforehand.

Stay Clear Of Negative People

Reasons to call out of work stay clear of negative people

Staying positive at work can also be achieved by surrounding yourself with positive coworkers. Avoid negative people as much as possible. Instead, make sure you spend a lot of time with optimistic, considerate, sympathetic, and unselfish individuals. Seek company from people who care about you and have an optimistic outlook on life.

Take Regular Breaks

Take time out to gather your thoughts and relax for a moment. If your boss is aware of your situation, they will most likely be sympathetic and accept you are taking regular breaks, which is important for your mental health.

Valid Excuses And Legitimate Reasons For Missing Work

Valid excuses and legitimate reasons for missing work reasons to call out of work

Unavoidable Circumstances That May Require Time Off From Work

1. A Car Accident (or another type of accident)

A sudden accident usually qualifies as a legitimate reason to take sudden leave, particularly in the event of serious injuries. In addition, you will likely be allowed to take time off from work to attend to your spouse’s well-being, child, or a loved one dependent on you, and time to handle any aftermath details.

2. Loss Of A Loved One

Loss of a loved one reasons to call out of work

Employers often understand that people may need time off after losing a loved one, as they would do in a similar circumstance. If you need to attend a funeral or plan one, they understand you will need time off from work.

Your boss should be notified immediately when a death occurs so they can arrange for you to be covered while you are away. See how much bereavement time is allowed by your employer’s official policy.

3. An Illness That Affects The Individual

Personal illnesses, especially contagious ones, almost always qualify as a legitimate reason to take time off. Employers do not want an epidemic of diseases to spread in the workplace because it hinders employee productivity and operations.

The more time it takes to recover, plan ahead, as in some cases, a doctor’s note may be required. The number of sick days needed before employers require a doctor’s note usually varies from employer to employer.

Reasonable Expectations When Taking Time Off From Work

Reasonable expectations when taking time off from work reasons to call out of work
  • You can expect to be asked to do a changeover with the employee that will take over from you while you are away. This will go over where you are up to, current tasks, etc.
  • Depending on the boss, you might receive a check-up call to see how things are going. You will likely be asked to give a rough estimate of when you will return to work.
  • If you are unwell with something contagious but not severe, you might be asked to work from home, taking on small duties.
  • You may be asked to provide proof, like a doctor’s certificate or proof that your family member passed away.

If you have no holidays or sick leave, you might end up having unpaid time off, where you will not receive any pay for the time you are away.

4. Bereavement Policies

Company Policies Regarding Bereavement Leave

Compassionate leave (or bereavement leave) gives employees time off when someone close to them passes away. Paid or unpaid time off may be available according to company policy.

Employee Rights During Bereavement Leave Periods
Employee rights during bereavement leave periods reasons to call out of work

All states except Oregon do not regulate paid bereavement leave. It is left to the company’s policy to define. Typically, close family members are granted three days of bereavement leave. If employees wish to take unpaid leave, they can take a few weeks of leave.

Oregon workers who work 25 hours or more over the course of a year qualify for paid bereavement leave of two weeks.

Flat Tire And Other Common Excuses For Missing Work

5. No Childcare

Parents who need to go to work are not the only ones affected, either. While it is possible to work from home, you cannot be productive when schools close unexpectedly, or the babysitter is sick. Having childcare arrangements to sort out is a common excuse for calling into work.

6. Flat Tire

Reasons to call out of work flat tire

Well, this is another common excuse but one that will get you time off as you cannot drive with a flat tire. You might not be able to catch public transport either if you are not close to it or have no cash. However, you may be asked to come to work once the tire is fixed. So it is not always a free day off work excuse.

7. Taking Care Of Pets

Pets have emergencies, so you can undoubtedly call out of work for that. For example, your dog might have eaten something poisonous from the garbage, and you might have to take them to a veterinarian.

8. Jury Duty

jury duty reasons to call out of work

You may be summoned to jury duty. In that case, you have an excellent reasonable excuse to skip work. There is no way to avoid jury duty, so request time off as soon as possible. It might be paid or unpaid it will depend on the individual company.

9. Personal Emergency

Work is the last thing on your mind in the aftermath of the death of someone you love. But, in addition to grieving, funeral arrangements may require logistical and financial considerations.

In the end, unavoidable circumstances can interfere with your ability to work. Running out of gas while commuting to the office could be the culprit, or something more serious like an accident. Whatever the case, knowing when to take time off is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

What Constitutes An Acceptable Reason For Taking Personal Emergency Time

What constitutes an acceptable reason for taking personal emergency time reasons to call out of work

Don’t hesitate to contact your company’s human resources department for clarification regarding its policies. Your company should clearly distinguish between personal days, holidays, and sick days. Calling in sick is usually acceptable in the following cases:

Illnesses And Medical Appointments

10. An Urgent Appointment With The Doctor

The employer can usually accommodate your medical appointment if you give them advance notice. However, a last-minute call may be necessary in some cases.

For instance, you may be waiting for an emergency appointment with a specialist who has limited availability. If you receive a call at the beginning of the day stating that someone canceled an appointment, take advantage of the opportunity. Without this, you may not be able to see this doctor for months. Missing work is reasonable if you need to attend the appointment. Communication is key to getting support and taking care of yourself. A dental emergency where you are suffering pain is another good reason to leave.

11. Contagious Illness

contagious illness reasons to call out of work

In the event that you are contagious, it is best to protect your coworkers and customers from your illness. It is possible to minimize the impact of your absence by preventing the spread of sickness.

12. Inclement Weather Conditions

You may be unable to commute, or your internet connection may be down due to severe weather. The need to evacuate on short notice can also arise when hurricanes, tornadoes, or other dangerous events occur. If you decide not to evacuate, prepare for the storm by stocking up on groceries and supplies.

13. Public Transportation Issues

electric vehicle

We all know you cannot rely on public transportation 100% of the time. This is because so many issues arise, from engine trouble to domestic disputes or crime occurring on the train or bus along with horrible traffic, all of which can cause public transport to be delayed or canceled altogether.

14. Advance Notice Requirements

Suppose you need time off for something that you have prior knowledge of, such as a funeral. In that case, you will most likely have a date already in mind for the funeral.

Giving advance notice is important as it allows the employer to make different arrangements to ensure the business runs smoothly while you are not there. Therefore, advance notice is essential, especially if you plan to take an extended leave.

You must give at least one week’s notice to things like a funeral, but at short notice occurrences, this is not possible, so let your boss know as soon as you do. The longer you have been at the company, the more time you are required to give for issues that are not classed as immediate emergencies.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Giving Advance Notice

Extra Time Off Or Unpaid Time Off

reasons to call out of work extra time off or unpaid time off

An unpaid leave is a period of time during which an employee remains employed without receiving a salary.

Unpaid leave is allowed for the following reasons (in the U.S.):

  • Taking care of oneself when suffering from a serious illness
  • An emergency in the family
  • Adoption or birth leave for parents
  • Employees or their spouses transitioning to active duty

Different reasons qualify an employee for a certain number of days off annually. Things happen from time to time, some out of our control. If you have no sick days left, you might be able to take extra time off and use your annual leave or personal days, but this will depend on your unexpected circumstance and the individual company. However, if you do not have any, you might still be able to take extra time off, but it will be unpaid.

How To Request Extra Time Or Unpaid Time Off From Work

Be specific and give relevant details in your request for time off. Provide as much detail as possible. Be certain of the days you wish to take off. You will have difficulty getting approval if your request is not specific and unclear. Communicate clearly and confidently.

Requests should be made in person and verbally. If you are unsure what to write, look up templates online to give you ideas on what to include in your letter.

Guidelines On Acceptable Reasons For Extra Or Unpaid Time Off

guidelines on acceptable reasons for extra or unpaid time off reasons to call out of work

Unpaid leave may be requested for several reasons, including:

  • Taking an extended vacation and having little annual leave remaining, not covering the whole leave period.
  • Their family member needs care, and their caretaker’s leave is running out.
  • Personal sudden illness.
  • Plumbing Issue. Such as sewer issues, burst pipes, or flooded basements that require you to stay home.
  • Family Emergency.
  • Childcare issue/illness.
  • Dental/medical last-minute appointment.

As for casual employees who seek unpaid personal or caregiver leave or unpaid compassionate leave, the company must approve the leave if the casual employee meets all necessary evidence requirements.

In the absence of a leave policy explicitly permitting unpaid leave, a company may decline the leave request if they are a small company and you only want the leave for a holiday or something unimportant. If the business has a leave policy, it should be reviewed by the employer to determine the unpaid leave policies.

Whenever a workplace matter arises, such as a family illness, mental health issues, or an unexpected event like an accident, it must be dealt with individually. Therefore, before making any decision, it is important to consider the factors in each situation.

Strategies For Avoiding Missed Days Due To Unforeseen Circumstances

It is important to have procedures in place to avoid missed days at work when things happen unexpectedly. Here are a few strategies you can implement to reduce the number of days you need to have off.

  1. If you have a sick relative, consider seeing if other family members who may not be working at the same time as you can look after them while you are working, and you can take over when you have finished your shift. This will allow you plenty of time to get things done.
  2. Have a few babysitters on the payroll, so if one sitter calls in sick, then you can call a replacement so you can still go to work.
  3. Keep fit and eat a healthy diet to avoid your body getting run down and suffering more colds and flu.
  4. Wear a mask to avoid catching covid, which sometimes means you cannot work until the isolation period ends.
  5. Practice safe hygiene, so you are not picking up germs and spreading them through the workplace.


There is no doubt we all get sick, suffer an emergency situation, have family issues, or have a bulletproof excuse for why we need to call out of work; most likely, it will be granted. However, coming up with poor reasons and a list of excuses you have used before or requesting vacation time with late notice, you will most likely be denied.

If your employee attendance is good and you have a compelling excuse for why you must call out of work, you will most likely be granted leave. Many employers understand things happen and are sympathetic and willing to help if you are a loyal employee.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Do You Say When Calling Out Of Work?

The truth. Do not beat around the bush and make your reason drag on. Instead, explain the problem and why you cannot come in. Explain you will be back to work as soon as possible and that you appreciate their understanding of this unplanned event.

If you are in a particular job that you can do from home and are feeling unwell, consider asking your boss if they would like you to work from home, even just answering emails.

Let your boss know you will check back in with them before the end of the day so they know exactly what is happening and the plans for the next working day.

Is It Unprofessional To Call Out Of Work?

It is not uncommon for employees to have to call in sick. These things happen in our personal lives, and we do not ask to be sick. Besides being expected, doing so is perfectly fine. It is not unprofessional if you do it right. It becomes unprofessional when you do not give enough notice, do not bother calling at all, or follow the protocol for calling in sick. This is unprofessional if you come up with last-minute excuses and poor reasons why you cannot come in.

Is Anxiety A Valid Reason To Call Out Of Work?

Sick leave for mental illnesses does not have a comprehensive list. It is okay to take time off for mental health reasons, such as anxiety disorders, whether or not they are diagnosed. Especially if you believe it will affect how you do your job. If too much time is taken off at once or happens frequently, you might need to provide a doctor’s certificate or come to an arrangement with the company.