5 Bulletproof Excuses to Get Out of Work

Hey, we’ve all been there. You’re sitting at your desk, staring at the clock, and wondering how you’re going to make it through another day of work. Maybe you’ve even tried using some of these classic excuses to get out of work. But are they really bulletproof?

If you’re tired of merely hiding from your customers and coworkers, here are five quick excuses that will get you out of work – but be careful because they might backfire! I’ve collected all these excuses from Reddit, so you know they’re good, or more realistically, they’re bad.

The “I’m Sick” Excuse

We’ve all been there. You’re stuck at work, surrounded by people you can’t stand, and you can’t take it anymore. You need to get out of there, but you can’t just leave without a good excuse. Here are five excuses to get you out of work without getting you into trouble.

When to use it

  1. You’ve been throwing up: If you’re sick, don’t come in. You’re risking getting everyone else sick, and nobody wants that.
  2. You have a doctor’s appointment: This one is iffy. If it’s a regular check-up or something that can wait, try to reschedule for after work hours. But if it’s something serious, definitely use this excuse.
  3. A family member is sick: Again, if you can reschedule or wait until after work hours, do so. But if it’s an emergency, this is an excellent excuse.
  4. Your pet is sick: This one is tricky. Pets are family too, but depending on your office’s policies, they may not be considered an emergency. Go with your pet if you must choose between work and taking your pet to the vet. They need you.
  5. You’re just not feeling well: This is a catch-all for those days when you can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep or are just stressed out. If you’re not feeling well, staying home and resting is best.

How to make it believable

a man smiling and reading a book
He could be working, but instead he’s chillin’ at home and reading a book. This could be you!

When you’re feeling under the weather, the last thing you want to do is go to work. But sometimes, calling in sick is not an option. If you have to go in, there are a few things you can do to make your “I’m sick” excuse more believable.

Here are 5 tips for putting together a convincing “I’m sick” excuse:

  1. Be specific about your symptoms: don’t just say you have a cold or the flu — tell your boss exactly what symptoms you’re experiencing. The more specific you are, the more believable your excuse will be.
  2. Have a doctor’s note ready: get a doctor’s note to back up your claim that you’re too sick to work if you can. This is especially important if you’re going to be out for more than a day or two.
  3. Avoid common cold and flu symptoms: if everyone at work is coming down with the same cold or flu, it will be harder to convince your boss that you’re really sick. Try to focus on less common symptoms that make it clear you’re not faking it.
  4. Don’t overdo it: if you act like you’re too sick to work, your boss may wonder if you’re trying to get out of doing your job. So even if you are feeling under the weather, try to push it out and power through the day as best as possible.
  5. Be honest about why you can’t come in: if there’s a real reason why you can’t go to work — like childcare issues or transportation problems — let your boss know upfront so they don’t think you’re just using being sick as an excuse.

The “Family emergency” Excuse

The “Family emergency” excuse is a classic for a reason. It’s vague enough that your boss can’t fact-check it, but it’s also severe enough that they won’t question it too much. Plus, it’s a great way to get out of work without having to lie or make up a story.

When to use it

This excuse is best used when you have an actual family emergency that you need to attend to. If you try to use this excuse when you don’t have a family emergency, your boss is likely to see right through it.

What to say

When you call in, tell your boss that you have a family emergency and won’t be able to come to work. You don’t need to go into more detail unless they ask.

How to make it believable

The best way to make this excuse believable is to use it only when you have a family emergency. If you use it too often, your boss will catch on.

The “My car broke down” Excuse

My car broke down is a great excuse to get out of work, but it only works if you have a good story to back it up. You can’t just say your car broke down and expect to get away with it; you need to have a believable story. Here are a few ideas to help you make your story more believable.

When to use it

This is a great all-purpose excuse because it can be used for last-minute cancellations or planned time off. It works best if you have a long commute, but it can be used even if you live nearby. Be sure to sound genuine when you say it, and offer to work from home if possible.

What to say

Your boss is breathing down your neck. Your to-do list is a mile long. You’re in way over your head, and the only thing you can focus on is getting out of the office—fast.

Whether you’re dealing with a personal emergency or just looking to take a mental health day, sometimes calling in sick is the only answer. But if you’ve used the old “my car broke down” excuse, you know that it only works so many times before your boss starts seeing through it.

Here are a few tips for making your “car broke down” excuse more believable:

  1. Come up with a good story: if you’re going to lie, make it a good one. The more believable your account is, the more likely your boss will buy it.
  2. Be specific about the problem: don’t just say your car broke down, give a particular reason why. Did the engine die? Did you get a flat tire? The more specific you are, the more believable it will be.
  3. Offer to work from home: if your boss is pushy, offer to work from home for the day. This way, they know you’re still working even if you’re not in the office.

The “I’m in a meeting” Excuse

You’re in a meeting and can’t get out of it. You’re stuck in a room with a bunch of people talking about things that bore you to tears. The only thing that you can think about is the work that you’re missing. But don’t worry, you could do plenty of other things with your time.

When to use it

This is the go-to excuse when you really need to get out of work for something. It’s perfect for doctor’s appointments, kid pickups, or anything else that you can’t predict the timing of. It also doesn’t require much notice, which is helpful if you’re trying to make a quick exit.

What to say

If you find yourself stuck in a meeting going nowhere, use one of these five excuses to make a graceful exit.

  • I’m sorry, I have to take this call.
  • I have another meeting to get to.
  • I need to follow up on that email.
  • I promised I would help someone with something.
  • I’m not feeling well.

The “I’m working from home” Excuse

man smiling and watching tv
Why work from home when you can relax and watch TV instead?

If you’ve ever needed to get out of work for a personal emergency or just because you need a mental health day, you know the importance of a good excuse. “I’m working from home” is a great excuse because it’s technically accurate. You can say you’re working from home, and no one can prove that you’re not. Here are a few more excuses sure to get you out of work.

What to say

“I’m working from home.”

This is an excellent option if you don’t want to lie but don’t want to give your boss more details than necessary. You could be working from home for many reasons, so this explanation covers a lot of ground.

And, if your boss presses for more information, you can always say that you’re not feeling well or have a family/personal emergency.

Now that you’ve got Excuses to Get Out of Work…

So there you have five foolproof excuses to get out of work. And if all else fails and your boss doesn’t buy your story, remember the adage: the best defense is a good offense. Blame your co-workers for setting you up or tell them how stressed you are from work and how much you need a break. It might not be the most honorable thing to do, but it just might get you out of the office for an afternoon (or longer).

How do you plan on using these excuses? If you’ve got some great fake excuses to get out of work for a week, please leave me a comment, and I’ll add it to the collection.



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I'm a co-founder and writer here at Unfinished Man. I write, manage the look and feel of the website, and make sure that nothing breaks. I also reply to the vast majority of our emails, so if you're sending one through, I suggest you be nice. Everyone says I'm the least offensive of our writers, so they gave the email jockey task to me. When I'm not improving the site, I write about fashion, video games, politics, and anything related to science and technology.

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