Whether you’re working a full-time schedule or shorter shifts, you may have occasions where another obligation requires you to leave work early. Knowing the right reasons and best practices for asking your supervisor to leave before the end of your shift can help ensure they honor your request. This article will review the most effective excuses to leave work early and provide some tips and example answers to help you make a professional and respectful request.
Why ask to leave work early?
Major life events can often happen during work hours, and most employers understand that you’ll need to leave work to take care of issues from time to time. If there is an event or urgent matter that you need to respond to, a polite and informative request can increase the chances that your employer will let you leave early.
Best excuses to leave work early
Here are some of the most common and appropriate reasons to ask to leave work early:
An urgent family matter is one of the most frequent reasons to leave work early. If you’re a parent, one of your children may be sick at school and needs to see a doctor. One of your elderly family members may need a caregiver, or the injury or death of a loved one might require your immediate attention. In these cases, let your employer know what your role is in the situation and why it is important that you leave early.
Example: ‘Mr. Givens, I’ve just received a phone call from my daughter’s school. She has a high fever and needs to go to the pediatrician immediately. My partner is out of town currently, and I am the only one who can pick up my daughter. May I leave work early?’
This excuse to leave early can cover an array of matters, such as physical illness, emotional issues or standard medical check-ups. If you need to leave for a doctor’s visit, it can help to let your employer know that you attempted to schedule the appointment outside of work hours but were unable to.
Example: ‘Hey Tayanna, I would like to leave work early to get my annual dental cleaning. Unfortunately, my dentist’s office is only open the same hours as our store, or else I would have scheduled a later appointment. Is it alright with you if I head over there at 2 today?’
Home emergencies are events at your place of residence that require an urgent response. Some of these incidents may include a water leak, electrical outage or major storm damage. Home emergencies might also entail preventative measures like boarding up your windows for an oncoming hurricane or removing your important belongings because of a fire in the neighborhood.
In less extreme cases, such as an appliance delivery or home inspection, your employer may also let you leave early if you’re the only person who can be present for the event.
Example: ‘Ms. Castro, I received a shipping notification that an important package is coming to my house in an hour. Since I will need to sign for it personally, may I leave an hour early?’
Religious or community obligation
Religious observances are also valid reasons for leaving work early. If your religious institution has an early service or event, let your employer know that your attendance is crucial to your religious practice. This can include holidays or less formal occasions like social events for the congregation.
Community involvement can also be a way of boosting your morale and aiding work-life balance. If you are part of a non-profit, for instance, your employer may allow you to leave early to participate in a food drive. It might be beneficial in these cases to tell your employer that your presence benefits your company since you’ll be performing charitable acts as a representative of the company, even if not officially.
Example: ‘Dr. Nguyen, this evening is my church’s annual clothing and necessities drive for disadvantaged people. I would like to leave work at 4:00 to participate. Will that be okay?’
In some cases, your job may require you to meet clients or vendors during hours you would typically be at work. If your ability to leave early is crucial for you to perform your job, your employer will likely permit you to leave early.
Example: ‘As you know, I frequently have to meet clients in the late afternoon to close sales. Is it alright if I leave at 2 p.m. to go see Ms. Lombardo at Sport and Field, Inc.?’
If your employer has a flexible work environment, you may be able to leave the office early to work from another location. If this is the case, let your supervisor know why working elsewhere will benefit your productivity.
Example: ‘Hey Jonas, since the office frequently gets hectic in the afternoon, I’d like to leave early today. I am able to work more accurately and efficiently when I work from home. May I be allowed to leave after lunch?’
Professional development or education
Leaving work for occasions that boost your professional or educational qualifications can be valid reasons to leave work early. Your employer may have even arranged for you to be in some of these seminars or classes. Either way, if you need to leave work for a professional or educational matter, let your supervisor know, and remind them why it’s important to you as an employee.
Example: ‘The hazardous materials certification course you registered me for last month meets this afternoon at 4:30. I would need to leave at 4 to get there on time. It’s important that I earn this credential so I can take on more responsibilities in the warehouse. May I leave early today?’
Tips for asking to leave work early
Here are some extra tips to keep in mind when requesting to leave work early:
Check your company handbook
Your organization may have specific procedures and guidelines that you need to follow to have your request approved. For instance, some companies require you to submit a written notice that they can keep on file. They may also have a policy that specifies a limited number of days you can leave early before it affects your pay.
Get your duties covered
Before you ask to leave early, try to have one of your teammates agree to take on some of your obligations. For instance, a coworker may be able to send some follow-up emails or complete a service call for you. Making sure your duties are covered is a great way to assure your employer that the business will continue to run smoothly in your absence.
Giving advanced notice is a beneficial way to get your excuse approved. When your employer has ample time to plan for your absence, they can take measures to keep up efficiency and productivity. Of course, there may be an emergency that requires you to leave immediately, but in other instances, ask as early as possible.
Include only necessary details
Your employer also has a busy schedule, so only give them the most important details about why you need to leave. For instance, ‘My mother had a fall and I need to meet her at the emergency room’ is preferable to a lengthy discussion of all the circumstances involved and the procedures your mother may have to undergo.
State a benefit
Your employer knows how leaving work early will benefit you, but they should also understand if granting your request will help them. If you’re leaving early so you can get over an illness, for example, you can explain that it’s best you aren’t around other employees if you’re contagious.