We’ve all been there. The alarm goes off and you lie there thinking of a good excuse to call in sick to get out of work. You’re just not feeling it quite frankly. But what believable sick day excuses will get you off without the manager suspecting?
Perhaps you’ve had a stressful few days at work and it’s playing on your mind. Or maybe you need time off for a job interview and need to come up with a good excuse?
We aren’t here to judge. Self care sometimes means putting yourself first, even if it means telling a little white lie every now and again.
If you are trying to find the courage to call in sick and are worried that you’ll need to provide proof, then don’t worry. You can self certify your sick leave for up to 7 days without a need for a doctor’s note.
You can follow the company policy for reporting sickness without fear if you just need a day for yourself. If you need to take time off because of mental health, don’t feel guilty. In this day and age, mental health is taken just as seriously as physical ailments and there’s no shame in needing a little time out.
If you are truly struggling with stress or other mental health issues, please see a GP. In particular, if your work is the source of your mental health struggles, there is no shame in getting signed off with stress. The process is straightforward.
See Also: How long can you self certificate for?
The hardest part of pulling a sickie is the call you need to make before you can relax and switch off.
This is more so the case if your workplace insists on a call to HR rather than leaving a voice message. Some companies might be happy with an email, text, or WhatsApp but, in general, a call is a normal protocol.
- Explain who is calling and ask for the relevant person.
- Be direct and to the point. “Hi it’s (name), I’m afraid I won’t be in today as I’m not feeling good”.
- You can then give a brief description of the illness but no need for great detail.
- If you don’t want to commit to being back the following day then leave the conversation by saying you will be in touch regarding tomorrow.
- Make sure you follow your workplace procedures for calling in sick to the letter. This will help avoid a disciplinary meeting at work on your return.
Related: What to say when calling in sick.
11 Good Excuses to Get Out of Work
Are you struggling to think up a good reason to call in sick? Our list of believable sick day excuses will help you get out of work.
1.My Car Won’t Start
A frequently used excuse is one relating to car trouble. Ranging from the car won’t start, to its broken down somewhere en route.
Maybe you need to stay put until help arrives from the AA or RAC and that’s going to be a few hours. Or maybe you are now without any transport so you’ll need to take the day off. Tyre problems can happen at any time too.
That said, if you’ve got a suspicious manager, remember they might just ask for a picture of that flat. There are limits to what you should do in the name of a good excuse to get out of work. Think about that before you get too elaborate!
2. My Child Is Sick
This is a great excuse to use – let’s be honest, well as long as you are actually a parent! The old my child is ill and I’ve got no childcare is almost foolproof.
You just need to be sure no one in the school crowd’s also in your work crowd, otherwise dropping and picking your “sick” child up will be totes awkward!
Do check your company’s dependants leave policy before using this excuse. Some employers don’t pay for time off work due to family emergencies.
3. I Need To Go To The Doctor
What could be more believable than needing time off for a doctor’s appointment? This one is another that is used often. It can be a good way to get out of work as most surgeries work on a queuing system these days.
You can ring work and say you are having to take the day off as you need to go to the doctor and you’ve no idea what appointment time you will get. You aren’t obligated to tell your manager why you need a doctors appointment.
4. Someone Close To Me Has Died
Now, perhaps not morally the right excuse to use but if this is one you are comfortable using, then so be it.
Not many managers will question this reason to be off work. Would you trip yourself up with this down the line though? There would be a lot of questions about funerals, and other fine details. If your manager catches on you are being dishonest, this could be an HR nightmare.
Needing a day off and getting to the point of being so stressed that you need to make up something like this perhaps shows the extent of your angst levels.
We don’t really recommend this one, there are easier ways!
5. I’m Sick
Simply ring work and say you won’t be in today as you are sick. As believeable excuses go, this is probably the best one. Don’t overcomplicate things!
They may require a little more detail than this so they can log your absence. But you just need to give a short answer.
A few illnesses which can buy you a day or two off include:
- Mental health problems such as anxiety
- Sickness bug
- Headache or migraine
- Flu symptoms
- Food poisoning
These are common sick day excuses, but they are believeable because they happen to lots of people. You don’t need to give HR war and peace. You also don’t have to provide a sick note until you’ve been off for 7 days.
6. I’ve Injured Myself
You could ring and say you won’t be in today due to an injury you have sustained.
This could be a bad back, a pulled muscle, a strained ankle, or another injury that would physically stop you from being able to perform your work duties.
Consider carefully what you’ll say when providing your excuse. Don’t go over the top and say you’ve torn a ligament. If you want that to be believable, you’ll have to spend weeks wearing a moon boot and limping at work.
7. I Need To Take My Pet To The Vets
Pets are an important part of the family so playing the “my cat is poorly” card is often good enough to not make work.
This is more so the case if there’s no one else available to deal with it. Pets are an integral part of the family, and when they need emergency care you need to get them attention asap.
8. I Need To Go To The Emergency Dentist
Toothache is no fun and anyone that has suffered from it will know it’s a good reason for getting out of work.
The pain can be excruciating, irritating or an ache which sends you a little demented. Calling in and saying you need to go to the emergency dentist for a root canal is a solid excuse to use.
With NHS appointments increasingly difficult to get, having scored a last minute cancellation is a solid reason to call in sick.
9. There’s A Family Emergency
This is a good excuse to use as you do not have to go into too much detail initially when calling in sick. You can simply say you are having to deal with a family crisis.
This will buy you some time to give some bulk to the story when asked. Remember, keep the reason you’ve needed a day off simple. Don’t over embelish, you’ll only trip yourself up down the line.
10. Eye Infection or Injury
Conjunctivitis, or a stye can cause extreme discomfort and might mean driving or screen work is not possible. Similarly getting something lodged in your eye can cause temporary swelling or visual discomfort.
This is a great excuse to use at the last minute, with the “something in my eye” being a good reason to take a single day off. It would be reasonable to go and seek medical attention for an object lodged in your eye, and A&E wait times can be lengthy.
11. Mental Health Day
If the reason you’re reading this list of believable sick day excuses is because you are struggling with your mental health, it might be time to be honest.
It can be a difficult conversation to have, but if you have ongoing issues with stress, depression, or another mental health condition – tackling it head on will help you in the long term.
It’s a hard conversation to have with a manager or HR, but it might be the first step to things improving. Our guide has lots of suggestions on what to say when calling in sick for mental health reasons, and will help you start an important conversation.
- Excuses to be late for work – useful if you have decided it’s not such a great idea to call in sick after all.
- Reasons to Call Out of Work – a look at what types of illness are acceptable to call in sick for.
10 Really Unusual Sick Day Excuses
Ok, so this isn’t your first sick day, it might be more like your fourth or fifth. Are you a little concerned about coming up with an excuse for not going to work that doesn’t sound entirely made up?
Let’s give you our top 10 really unusual sick day excuses that will take your sickie to the next level! We should probably say at this point that we recommend calling in person with these excuses. On paper, they sound, well a little crazy!
- My pet suffers from terrible separation anxiety so I’ll need to take the day off until we’ve spent some time together addressing this issue.
- I’m locked in my house. See, my partner went out the door early in the morning, forgetting he had both sets of house keys when he locked up. He’s working 2 hours away so it looks like I’m staying put.
- I had a nightmare about work today so I need to stay home so it doesn’t come true – everyone will be safer this way.
- I have a trapped bird in my house and need to stay put until the RSPCA get here which may not be until later.
- We got broken into last night so I’m too traumatised to come in today and need to wait for the police and insurance people to come over.
- There’s a wasp nest right outside my front door and they are swarming all over the place. I can’t get out without being stung, no I don’t have a back door.
- I can’t find my shoes. My kids thought it would be funny to hide all my shoes and since it’s illegal to drive in slippers, it looks like I’m staying home.
- My kids flooded the bathroom last night and now there’s water coming through the ceiling. I have someone on the way to have a look so will be staying here to supervise. The kids have been evicted.
- I found out my partner was cheating so I’m busy throwing his clothes (which I’ve cut with scissors) onto the street and I’m also having the locks changed today.
- I’m stuck under my bed so won’t be able to get to work today. How did I get here you ask? Well, the possibilities are endless. Maybe you dropped something, were trying out some new bedroom pleasures with your loved one, or prefer to sleep under there with the monsters as company!
With excuses as weird and wonderful as these, you’ll need to be able to be incredibly convincing. If your manager asks you if you had the gas boiler serviced recently, you’ll know they suspect that you are not OK.
Sadly for all the wrong reasons!
Choose Your Excuse Wisely
Remember that experienced bosses will have heard every reason for calling in sick. That means it’s important to sound believable when needing a day off work.
It’s best to go with an excuse that isn’t too extravagant even if it is more commonly used. After all, headaches are a part of life along with viruses and toothache. Days off relating to these illnesses are far more acceptable than having no shoes to wear, or getting yourself locked in!
On a final note, if you find yourself regularly wanting to skive then maybe this is an issue that needs addressing.
The odd sickie here and there is normal and can be a saviour with health problems such as depression. But wanting to regularly ring in sick points to an unhappy work environment and it might be time to do something about that.
Enjoy your sick day, recharge and then think about how to tackle things moving forwards. Perhaps lightening the workload or doing reduced hours will rekindle your mojo.
- Our guide on calling in sick to work offers advice on how to call off and maintain a professional image.
- Wondering how much notice you need give to call in sick? Our guide explains best practise to keep your manager sweet!