Excuses to Leave Work Early (With Tips on How to Ask)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 27, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Putting in a full day's work is essential for workplace productivity, but circumstances arise when you may have a reason to leave work early. There are several appropriate excuses to leave work early. Being able to identify them and ask for the time when you need them helps to maintain your professionalism. Knowing when it's appropriate to leave work early can improve both your work life and personal life. In this article, we discuss some appropriate excuses to leave work early and share tips on how to ask your manager for time off.

What are appropriate excuses to leave work early?

Below is a list of excuses to leave work early that you can consider using:

Medical appointments

Your well-being is a priority and workplaces understand that. Medical professionals often schedule appointments during regular business hours. This means employers may be accommodating when you leave work early or come in late after an appointment. If the appointment is going to be a reoccurring event, it's best to speak to your manager and plan an arrangement beforehand.

Related: What Is a Personal Day? (Plus Tips For How To Ask For One)

Sickness or injury

One of the most commonly used excuses for leaving work early is sickness or injury. This is also one of the most valid excuses. Employers and other employees typically don't want sick coworkers around the office. If you're feeling ill or start to feel sick while on the job, consider going home.

Being injured while not at work might interfere with your ability to complete your job. If going to work puts you at further risk of being injured, it's best to stay home. If you're injured while at work, talk to management immediately to avoid further harm. Most workplaces have policies and procedures for tracking safety incidents and managing health and safety. When injuries occur, talk to your HR department, as there may be additional steps to take.

Related: How To Ask for a Day Off the Proper Way in 6 Simple Steps

Family crisis

It is important to be available for family when a problem arises. If you have a family crisis happening, it's reasonable to ask to leave work early. Staying at work can leave you distracted and isn't your priority, and most employers typically understand that. Once the initial crisis has passed, let your employer know when you expect to come back to work. If you end up needing to be away from work for a prolonged period, make the proper arrangements with your manager.

Religious beliefs

Many religions celebrate and honour a variety of holidays and special occasions. There are laws protecting an individual's right to their religion and they can allow people to take time off work to honour their beliefs. It's best to inform your workplace of your religious holidays as soon as you can so they can prepare for your absence. This allows both parties to work together to secure the time off. The law requires your employer to give you the time off regardless of how you approach them. It shows respect when you come to them professionally and promptly.

Housing emergency

Unexpected problems may happen with your home, and it's important that you're available to resolve them. If an emergency arises, inform your manager immediately and keep them updated on when you can return to work. If you have pre-planned repairs being done on your home, it's best to let your employer know as soon as you can. This allows you and your manager to work together to make sure you have the time off. When you can, it's best to schedule these appointments when you're off work, but employers usually understand that is not always possible.

Business events

Sometimes business events come up that may require you to leave early. For example, you may have a meeting with a client out of the office, schedule a business dinner, or leave on an out-of-town business trip. Networking is important and can help improve your productivity. Bringing this up when talking about leaving early shows that you're business-focused. Inform your manager about where you're going and why you're leaving early. Being honest is key when asking to leave work early.

Related: Exploring the Pros and Cons of Going on a Business Trip

Professional development

It is always important to develop yourself and improve your skills and abilities. By improving yourself, you can become more effective in your role. Many employers encourage their employees to take part in various workshops and seminars. These events often take place during business hours, and this means leaving work early in order to attend. If this is the case, approach your manager as soon as you can so that they can plan for your absence.

Related: How To Make a Time-Off Request (With Template and Example)


Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and a lot of companies value volunteerism. Volunteering shows you are a team player, that you take initiative, and that you have compassion for others. These are also desirable qualities for an employee to have. Employers may be more likely to let you leave early for volunteering, especially if it is an organization that already works with the company where you work.

Civic duties

There are some situations where people need time off work to complete a civic duty. Being selected for jury duty and voting are two examples. The law guarantees people have three consecutive hours to vote on election day. While there are some industries that Canada's Election Act does not apply, most businesses follow its regulations.

Jury duty is an essential part of Canada's criminal process. When selected for a jury, your employer is legally obligated to give you leave. While the law doesn't require your employer to pay you for this time off, employers often do. Speak to your manager beforehand to plan for the time you need off and discuss whether they can offer any compensation during this period.

Car problems

Having car trouble means you may need time off work to get repairs. Your mechanic might only be able to offer you an appointment during your workday. If your car is essential to getting to work, it is important that it is safe to drive. If you're going to be late to work or leave early because of car problems, talk to your manager as soon as possible.

Tips for asking to leave work early

While your reasons for asking to leave work early may be legitimate, it's still important to ask appropriately and professionally. Below is a list of key points to remember when asking for time off:

  • Be truthful. Honesty is key when talking about leaving work early. If your employer is considering letting you leave work early, make sure you're being upfront and honest about your reasons for leaving, as lying can ruin your credibility.

  • Be respectful. Respect is an important aspect of a properly functioning workplace. When you're asking to leave work early, it's crucial to approach your manager respectfully.

  • Ask beforehand when possible. For pre-planned events, asking early can help make sure you can get your time off. If it's an appointment or business event, then approach your manager and ask early so you can work together to plan the time off and the logistics surrounding it.

  • Always ask politely. When looking to leave early, approach your manager politely and respectfully and explain your request. Professionally approaching your manager helps to maintain a proper working relationship.

  • Have a plan to finish your work. If you're leaving because of a pre-planned event or appointment, have a plan for your uncompleted tasks. Whether it's staying late on a different day to finish up your work or having an arrangement with another coworker to help you, planning is the best strategy.

  • Only ask when necessary. It's okay to ask for time off when it is necessary, but try not to ask too often. This can give a poor impression and make it more difficult to get time off for legitimate reasons.

  • Choose the proper time to ask. Asking for time off in the middle of a busy week or during the finishing of an extensive project can decrease your chances of getting time off. If avoidable, try to ask when it is quiet at work or when you know there is a time when the workload is lighter.

  • Talk to HR. Checking with your human resources department when leaving work early is important and shows respect to management. There may be stipulations on how far ahead to make the request or a particular form to fill out when doing so.

  • Return to work as soon as possible. When your appointment is over, or your crisis is subsiding, it's important to return to work. Make sure you're returning promptly and once you can properly focus on your job.

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