Acceptable or good excuses for not coming to work

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At some point in your career, you may need to be absent from work unexpectedly. What is a good excuse for not coming to work? Ideally, every employer prefers that employees plan their leave well in advance. However, sometimes, for various reasons, one may need to take time off or call in sick with short notice.

Different reasons for not coming to work

There can be many different reasons why you may not be able to come to work, such as illness, family emergencies, car problems, or important meetings. Some excuses are legitimate reasons for taking time off, but others may seem unprofessional or irresponsible—especially if you use the same excuses frequently.

It might sound funny that we list good reasons for not coming to work, but it’s about knowing when you have acceptable reasons and actually have the right to be absent from work. However, there are reasons that are not acceptable at all and should be avoided altogether.


If you are sick, you should absolutely not go to work. You can infect others at the workplace, and if you are tired and unfocused, there is a high risk of making mistakes, perhaps even critical ones. Going to work when you are sick also hinders your chances of a quick recovery. You need rest and to listen to your body, so stay at home.

Contact your immediate supervisor as soon as you fall sick and keep them informed regularly with status updates so that your boss, your team, and your employer can plan for your absence. If you only have a slight cold or a sore throat but otherwise feel fine, if possible, you can work from home. This is something that almost all of Sweden has learned to do during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not everyone has the type of job that allows them to work from home if they are only slightly ill or have symptoms but otherwise feel well.

Illness in the Family

A family emergency can arise due to various circumstances, such as a sick child, an acc-ident, or an unexpected operation. If you find yourself in one of these situations, inform your employer immediately and keep them updated on any plans and arrangements, as well as when you expect to be able to return to work.

Caring for a sick child can vary from case to case. A young child may require supervision, and it may be challenging to work from home in such situations. However, if it involves an older child, you may be able to work a few hours or participate in meetings digitally while taking care of your ill family member.

When Acc-idents Happen

You may have experienced an acc-ident, ranging from your car not starting in the morning to dealing with a water leak at home. These are certainly not ideal situations, but when acc-idents happen, you must inform your employer as soon as possible that you will be late or unable to come to work. You should also provide them with an estimate of how long it will take to resolve the issue and when you can return to work or if you can be present by working from home.

Death in the Family

When someone in your immediate family passes away, you will likely need one or more days off from work to mourn. Inform your employer about the situation and any upcoming dates you may need to take off, such as attending the funeral. The death of a close family member not only affects your presence at work but can also make you extra sensitive or distracted for a while after the loss. It is advisable to inform your closest colleagues so they can offer understanding and support if you find it challenging to cope at work.

Not Acceptable Excuses

All the points mentioned above are common and acceptable reasons for not coming to work or being unable to work. However, some individuals may come up with poor excuses because they may not want to work rather than being unable to. Below, we list some excuses that are not accepted or viewed favorably by employers.

Feeling tired

Even though it may be challenging to not be well-rested and have low motivation, this is generally not considered a valid reason for not coming to work. If you use this as an excuse, especially frequently, you may come across as irresponsible and unreliable. This could lead to a warning or, even worse, termination. Instead, reflect on the cause of your tiredness. For example, if you were up all night due to illness, taking care of a sick child, or dealing with a family emergency, you should explain these circumstances to your employer.

If you have reason to believe that your fatigue is a result of burnout or overexertion, you may need to plan how to discuss this with your employer to adjust your workload or find another solution that suits your situation.


Using dissatisfaction as a reason for not being able to work can directly impact your position and may even lead to a warning. If you feel dissatisfied, stressed, or unsatisfied with your job, you should schedule a time to talk to your immediate supervisor and discuss your issues. If you feel that the problems cannot be resolved, consider seeking a new job that provides you with the tasks and challenges you are missing in your current workplace. Therefore, not being happy at work is not an acceptable excuses for not showing up.

Poor Planning

Everyone makes mistakes and has unfortunate events – you may forget to set your alarm clock, miss writing down a meeting in your calendar, or simply have bad luck with your bus journey to work. Such things happen to everyone at some point, and it’s okay. However, if you regularly arrive late or are careless with your calendar, and it affects other people at your workplace, your immediate supervisor will have a conversation with you to understand the reasons behind it. You may be perceived as distracted, unmotivated, and careless. Is there a reason for this behavior? Are you overwhelmed with too many or too complicated tasks and need assistance, or are you simply disorganized and unreliable?

If you need help at work, don’t be afraid to raise it with your boss. It’s better to admit that you’ve taken on too much and can’t handle a major project for which you are responsible, rather than letting things go wrong and affecting others both within and outside the organization.

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Things to Consider When Notifying Your Absence

When you need to be away from work, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Be honest

When communicating with your immediate supervisor about why you cannot come to work, be honest. If you feel the need to come up with an excuse to skip work, take some time to reflect on why you want to avoid your job.

2. Keep your supervisor updated

If you have to miss work for any reason, it’s essential to contact your employer as soon as possible. If you are sick, keep your immediate supervisor informed about your health status. Are you bedridden and have been on sick leave for two weeks, or do you have a cold and are on the road to recovery? Let your supervisor know so they can plan the work accordingly.

In conclusion Life is unpredictable, and everyone can sometimes face challenges that prevent them from coming to work. But remember that there are acceptable excuses for missing work, and there are those that are not acceptable. The most crucial aspect is how you communicate with your boss and your colleagues.

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