Networking and Career Advice

How to Call Out of Work


Olutumo Bose

Former HR Manager and Expert Career Writer

No matter how happy we are with our jobs, there are days when we feel overwhelmed and want to call out of work. No, don’t feel guilty. It’s expected because we’re humans, and we can’t control the uncertainties of life. But the problem lies in how to call out of work without seeming uncommitted to work, especially if you seldom get work-free days. 

Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. In this article, I will show you how to call out of work without raising suspicions from your boss or colleagues. 

Absolutely Valid Reasons To Call Out Of Work

There are a variety of valid reasons to call out of work. Let’s briefly discuss them below. 

sad woman on the kitchen floor on her cell phone deciding how to call out of work
  1. Medical Issues
  2. Emergency
  3. Personal and family reasons.
  4. Child or parental care
  5. Car trouble
  6. Poor internet connection or device malfunction
  7. Court appointment

Medical Issues

Because your health can directly impact your performance, it is completely reasonable to call out for medical issues. Very rarely will a boss deny you the opportunity to miss work so you can get quality medical care. Employers understand that we (employees) need to be in perfect condition to guarantee productivity at work. So, you don’t have to wait until it gets complicated.

Conversely, if you are at the age where you are calling out often because you are experiencing a lot of health issues, then it may be time to retire. But never fear, retirement does not mean a loss of income. You can still transition into a freelancing career that gives you more flexibility to care for your health and have income.


Emergencies are unplanned events that could be positive or negative. As mentioned earlier, we do not have control over everything in our lives. Employers understand this, too, so you can call out of work when you have an urgent, unplanned event at home or around your vicinity. Your emergency could be:

  • Car accident or car problems
  • Family emergency
  • Weather-related
  • Home repair
  • Personal or child illness

These are all valid reasons to call out of work. 

Personal and Family Reasons

I strongly advise employees to call out of work when there are compelling personal and family issues. It is okay to take a day or more off to relax when family issues and/or family events (funerals, weddings, births, etc) begin piling up. You can also advocate for a mental health day.  

This reason may seem frivolous to some employers. However, you can just honestly tell them you are burnt out and you need time to recover. That way, you can be reenergized and refocused for work.

Child or parental care

If your parent or young child is sick, you can call out of work to take care of them. You may even request to leave work (for a day or more) to cater to your child or parent, especially if they are unable to take care of themselves without supervision. If you are too behind on work, then you can request to work from home.

Car trouble

Having car trouble is another justifiable reason to call out of work. Our cars can break down anytime, any day. So, you can call out of work when you can’t fix the vehicle immediately. Sometimes employers may either urge you to take public transport or offer to have a coworker come pick you up. However, in many cases, public transport or coworkers picking you up may be extremely inconvenient, so car trouble may buy you a day or so. You can also call out of work if you have been in a collision.

These are all events beyond your control, and the reasons are valid. So don’t hesitate to inform your employer. 

Poor internet connection or device malfunction

If you work primarily from home, you can call out of work if you are experiencing poor internet connection, and there’s no other alternative. You can also call out of work when your work device, smartphone, or PC, is malfunctioning. Like emergencies, a poor network connection or a faulty work device is not your fault. Don’t beat yourself up. Instead, inform your employer and tell them how you’re fixing the issue.

Court appointment

This is a non-negotiable reason to call out of work because it involves obeying the law. You can call out of work when you have court appointments within or outside your state of residence. Since court appointments are seldom emergencies, you can inform your boss about the court date beforehand.

How to Call Out of Work? – Do It The Right Way!

Calling out of work is not a crime, nor does it make us bad employees. However, we must do it the right way—professionally and cordially—without coming off as nonchalant. That is the icing on the cake. The following section will explain the “right way” to call out of work.

Pick the Right Method & Speak to the Right Person

When calling out of work, it is advisable to communicate to your boss via the proper method or channel where they will most likely receive your message quickly. Do you communicate better via email, instant messaging apps, phone calls, or social media platforms? Select the fastest method.

Furthermore, speak to the right person. Make sure the first person you go to is your boss, not a friend or colleague. Do not delegate someone to announce your absence. Most importantly, do well to follow the company’s policy about calling out of work.

Be Prompt

Informing your boss or supervisor of your absence as soon as possible enables them to find ways to cover up your work schedule while you’re away. If it’s not an emergency, I suggest announcing your absence before the intended day. If it is an emergency, make contact as soon as possible, so workplace productivity is not put at risk.

Keep it Brief

When calling out of work, make it brief and straightforward. Provide basic details of the reason behind your absence, and refrain from complicating things. In a few sentences, disclose the purpose of taking a break. You can also express an interest in returning to your responsibilities as soon as possible.  

Explain the Extent of Availability (If any)

While talking about the reason behind your absence, explain the extent of your availability too. How do you intend to stay in contact? Will you be available to take on calls, reply to emails and worktexts, contribute to essential programs, etc.? Let your boss know about your availability even while you are away. This ensures that you’re in sync with the company’s activities and can follow up when you resume. 

Let the Team Know

This tip is most important if you’re working on a team project and have a deadline. After speaking to your boss, consider sending another message to your team members, letting them know when and why you’ll be absent. Letting your team know is a healthy work ethic that strengthens collaboration. Even if you’re not working on a project, courtesy demands that you inform some members of your department/unit before leaving work. It is the right thing to do. 

Offer Solution

Before calling out of work, if it’s not an emergency, provide a substitute plan that could suffice when you’re out of work. Convey this substitute plan and extra information to your boss or team members to ensure a smooth workflow in your absence. Offering a solution or assistance also shows that you have the company’s best interest at heart. They will, in turn, take you seriously. 

Follow Up

When calling out of work, inquire if your boss needs a follow-up on the situation. For example, you can provide a doctor’s report on the state of your health or information about your court appointment. This ensures they know what is amiss and can help when necessary. 

Cover Up When You Get Back

After being absent from work, the right thing to do is to cover up the areas you missed. Catching up on unattended projects and files shows your employer and team members that you are still committed to contributing to the company’s goals. Put in the extra effort to cover up the loopholes and ensure there is no colossal repercussion due to your absence.

Reasons to Use When You Just Need a Personal Day

man stressed in the photo will need to call out of work for a personal day

We all have days that we don’t feel like working. Maybe we are even job searching while employed. We are ready to put in our two weeks notice, but we need to find a job first. On days like this, it is hard to explain to HR. So, we have no other way but to come up with a reason to take a day or two off from work. While these are usually valid reasons, they may be “white lies” in your case, yet they are still justifiable. Let’s look at some below.

Note: I strongly recommend that you don’t misuse these reasons, as it can ruin your reputation and cause you to lose your job.

  1. Food poisoning or stomach flu
  2. Software or Wi-Fi malfunction
  3. Medical conditions

Food Poisoning or Stomach Flu

Food poisoning or a 48-hour stomach bug is usually a go-to excuse. Unlike with a broken bone or a sprained ligament, you don’t need a doctor’s note or proof because those illnesses usually resolve themselves with rest and hydration. No employer wants an employee throwing up in the office or spreading a virus, so this will likely work.

Software or Wi-Fi Malfunction

As a remote worker, your job is reliant on the functioning of software and hardware. If your tools are malfunctioning in any way, then you can’t be productive. It may be a good excuse to call out of work while you resolve the issues.

For example, maybe your wifi has been unstable for a day or so. It could be due to bad weather or construction in the vicinity. Just tell your boss that you don’t have an internet connection, and you may be disconnected for the next day or two as you work to resolve the issue.

Medical conditions

If you have recurring medical conditions such as migraines, allergies, or asthma, then you can use this to call off work. As long as you have a doctor’s note stating that you have these issues often, then your employer likely won’t make you come into work while feeling ill because you won’t be very productive. You may even be a distraction to other coworkers.

Things You Want To Keep In Mind

While you may have made up a reason to get a day off is completely justifiable, you don’t want to look like a liar and break the trust you have between you and your boss. So, there are a few things to keep in mind when calling out of work with a made-up reason.

Try to Avoid Phone Calls

Sometimes, it is better to let your boss know about your made-up reason through other media instead of phone calls – email, text, instant messaging, etc. This is to prevent your voice/tone and background noise from contradicting your explanation. 

Not to Tell a Friendly Colleague About the Real Reason

No matter your relationship with a colleague at work, do not tell them about the main reason you’re skipping work. When pressured (or not pressured), you never know who may crack and tell the truth about where you are or what you’re doing. So try to avoid putting someone else in that position by not disclosing the main reason for your absence.

Be Careful With Social Media

Once there’s a made-up reason to skip work, one must be careful with posting pictures and updates on social media. Do not go about posting stuff on social media within the period you’re off work. This is to avoid sending the wrong message to your employer or colleagues. 

Consider Timing

Consider the state of the company, your last vacation, or your free day before calling out of work. If the company is in bad condition or you just got off your official leave, it may be challenging to get approval for a day off work. So, consider the time of your request and ensure it is convenient for both you and the company. 

Should You Take Sick Leave When You’re Not Sick? Can You Get Fired?

While you can take sick leave when you’re not ill, it is very risky. Yes, there is a chance of getting fired if your boss finds out that you’re lying, especially if you have been calling out of work constantly within the past few months. Depending on the company’s policies, taking sick leave usually requires providing formal documentation, which you should be ready to present at a moment’s notice.

Nonetheless, the chances of getting fired depend on the company’s time-off policy, the personality of your boss, and your track record. 

Excuses You Want To Avoid Giving

There are some excuses you want to avoid giving when calling out of work. They come off as unprofessional and could even get you fired. Here are a few reasons to avoid when asking for a day off:

Bad summary example
  • “I am tired.”
  • “I forgot what day it was.” or “I thought I work the shift tomorrow.”
  • An unusual injury … that never happened.
  • You have a party to go to.
  • Hungover

Email and Text Examples for Calling Out of Work

I understand that it is sometimes challenging to maintain a professional tone while calling out of work. So, I have provided some samples below to guide you through sending an email or regular text. 

Sample for Medical Issues

Dear George. While getting ready for work this morning, I fell off the staircase mistakenly. I sustained an injury on my head and have been admitted. Sadly, I won't be able to come into the office today. However, I should be back to work tomorrow when I get the doctor's report. I'll try to answer client emails as they come, but I may be unavailable for calls. Thanks for understanding. 


Rebecca Peterside

Sample for Personal Emergencies

Dear sir/madam,

I'm writing to let you know that I'll be unable to get to the office today because my car broke down sometime this morning. Sadly, all efforts to fix it have proved abortive. But I'll find a reasonable means to commute to the office tomorrow unfailingly. I have informed Charles about my absence, and he'll direct the rest of the team. I have also provided the necessary information to enable other team members to work on the ongoing project. I apologize for any inconvenience this might cause. Please let me know if there's anything else I can do today or after I come back in to make up for this absence.

I appreciate your understanding.

Jones Fredrick

If You’re Calling Out, Do it Right

Calling out of work is not always a straightforward one, especially if you have an uptight work environment. But I am optimistic that the tips above will significantly help you call out of work the right way without putting your job on the line. 

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