The Best Reasons To Leave Work Early
Updated September 29, 2023
Illustration of three types of businesses in a row.
You are a valuable asset to your company, and your presence at work is necessary for productivity. Taking sick days, vacations and leaving work for short periods when needed is critical for maintaining and improving productivity. There are times when you may need to leave work early for personal, family or professional reasons. It is always best to be honest with your employer when requesting to leave early and only request time when you need to.
In this article, we explore appropriate reasons to leave work early and how to request this time in a professional manner.
Reasons to leave work early
Sometimes personal tasks and responsibilities require attention during the workday. Some events may be professional opportunities that require you to be out of the office. Here are some appropriate reasons to leave work early:
Personal illness or injury
Personal illness or injury
One of the most appropriate reasons to leave work early is if you're sick or injured, preventing you from focusing on your work. If you are contagious, it is usually best to leave work for medical treatment to prevent the further spread of illness in your workplace.
Both illness and injury can be distracting if you experience pain or discomfort that hinders your productivity. Some injuries or existing conditions can create long-term or chronic symptoms that affect your daily life. If symptoms prevent you from completing responsibilities, you may benefit from leaving work early to rest and recover.
You should be familiar with your company’s policy for sick leave. You may need to file sick leave paperwork to leave early or if you need to take additional time off work. Your employer may also require a doctor’s note or other proof that your absence is medically advised, which you can get from your doctor or medical attendant.
Going to the doctor or another medical professional can be an acceptable reason to leave work early. It is common that appointments can only be scheduled during regular business hours. Some employers allow their employees to come into work late or leave work early to accommodate medical appointments. It is also appropriate to ask to leave work early if you are already sick and need to leave to see a medical professional for treatment.
If you have recurring medical appointments, it is best to discuss possible accommodations with your employer to establish when you are able to leave early and for what reasons. Knowing these recurring dates can help you and your employer prepare for your absence and ensure work is completed on time.
Unexpected personal events involving a family member can often be appropriate reasons to leave work early. If you are a parent or caregiver, you may request to leave early to address illnesses, injuries or other unplanned family matters that require your immediate attention.
If your caregiving commitments require a more flexible schedule, you can discuss possible arrangements with your employer for leaving work early to take care of your family responsibilities. Unexpected emergencies may be less common and should be addressed with your employer as soon as they occur. In the event of an emergency, be sure to update your employer when you can to let them know when you are able to resume your normal work schedule.
If an unexpected event occurs in your home, you may be able to leave work early to address the situation as soon as possible. Events such as security issues, major damage or scheduled repairs can be appropriate reasons to leave work early.
If you experience a home emergency, be sure to inform your employer right away. Update your employer when you can to let them know what is going on and when you can be expected back at work. Extended leave may be granted in severe cases or to provide more time to handle home emergencies. It is best to be honest with your employer to ensure you can remain focused and productive when you return to work.
Most employers accommodate time off for religious observances. In addition, some countries have laws that require employers to accommodate their employees’ religious beliefs and practices unless the absence causes the business unreasonable hardship. If you have a religious obligation, such as an upcoming holiday, you may want to request time off to prepare or observe the event.
If you know the dates of your religious observances or holidays, be sure to discuss these with your employer ahead of time. Consider putting in a request early so your employer can accommodate the absence and you can complete all necessary tasks.
Leaving work early is also possible if you have an out-of-office appointment, meeting or professional event related to your job. If travel is required, your employer may let you leave early to avoid traffic or to arrive with enough time to prepare.
Some employers might let you leave early for opportunities that involve professional development. You may be interested in attending workshops, networking events or training courses that take place during work hours. Consider discussing with your employer the benefits of these events on your job-related skills and productivity to assure them that your time away from work is productive.
How to professionally ask to leave work early
If you are requesting to leave work early for personal, family or professional reasons, there are proper ways to make the request while being professional and courteous to your employer.
Approach your direct supervisor as soon as possible. Your manager or employer should be able to accommodate your request and delegate work responsibilities as needed during your absence. Work with them to determine which projects, tasks and meetings may need attention. If you are able to work remotely or from home, let your manager know how much work you will be able to complete realistically.
Request rather than demand. Politely asking your manager if you can leave work early is more likely to result in a favorable response. This strategy also shows respect and courtesy.
Be honest. Be sure to explain why you are asking to leave early. Keep in mind that you're not required to disclose any details you are uncomfortable with such as symptoms of your sickness or details about your family emergency.
Be proactive. Make sure all necessary tasks are completed if possible. Know what has not been completed, and consider asking coworkers to share your leftover tasks. By updating your supervisor on what needs to be done and who may be able to complete it in your absence shows that you care about the impact of your absence.
File an official request, if necessary. In some cases, you may need to file an official request to leave early. Your supervisor may ask you to fill out paperwork on the matter or have you report to human resources. Adhering to your company’s leave policy ensures that you and your employer are respectful of the company’s time.
Frequently asked questions
How can I leave work early in case of a personal matter that I can't disclose to my supervisor?
Consider following these steps when the reason for your leaving early is personal and you can't disclose it to your supervisor:
Plan ahead. If the personal issue isn't an unexpected one, try to prepare for your departure as early as possible. This can give your supervisor enough time to compensate for your absence.
Be straightforward with your supervisor. Although you may not be able to disclose the reason why you want to leave fully, it's still important to be honest and straightforward with your supervisor. Tell them that a personal matter requires your attention and that you're required to leave work earlier than usual.
Provide solutions for covering your absence. If you think that leaving work early may disrupt the company or department's activity, consider providing your supervisor with realistic solutions to compensate for the loss in productivity. For instance, you can come in earlier on another day or perform some of your tasks from home if possible.
Express your gratitude. Make sure you let your supervisor know that you appreciate their flexibility. This can help maintain a positive relationship with them.
How can I minimize the impact of me leaving work early?
Here are some tips to ensure that your leaving work early has a minimal impact on your work tasks and productivity:
Prioritize your work tasks
After determining that you're required to leave work early, you can start organizing your tasks based on their importance and urgency. This way, you can complete the tasks that are most urgent and important, leaving the other ones for the next day.
Work extra hours to compensate
An appropriate way to complete your work tasks after leaving early is by working more on another work day. This can help you complete all your work responsibilities in due time.
Delegate when possible
If your coworkers have the time and ability to complete some tasks, consider asking them to help out. This can free up your time so you can leave early.
Try to complete some of your tasks remotely
If the job and situation allow it, consider completing some of your work tasks remotely. You can do that with the help of modern tools, such as a laptop, mobile phone, task management apps and online communication platforms.
Use your work time efficiently
Avoiding distractions and focusing on your work tasks can help you complete your work quicker. This leaves you more time to leave early without affecting productivity.
Can I leave work early if it means I'm missing a work deadline?
Being able to leave work early when facing an imminent deadline typically depends on the task and workplace. Some organizations have specific policies for this type of situation. An appropriate course of action is usually to provide a solution for your situation, such as you completing the task the following day or asking a coworker to help you.
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