BlogOur Favourite Reasons For Employees Not Showing Up To Work

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Published: July 15, 2020

We’ve all come across employees who just can’t seem to turn up to work on time – or indeed at all! While it’s always a nightmare when staff decide not to show up, sometimes the excuses used are so off the wall that you can’t help but smile, even as you despair.

We’ve compiled a list of our favourite excuses for you below, as well as a few plain terrible ones.

Man shouting into desk phone.
Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

The Weather’s Too Nice To Come To Work

How many times have you wished that you could use this one yourself? Especially when you’ve dragged yourself into work despite the blistering sunshine outside, only to hear that apparently the rules don’t apply to the rest of your team. As an excuse it’s too ridiculously brazen not to include here though – this employee clearly Does Not Care. Bonus points if they try to justify it with the classic “I wouldn’t have been able to focus at work, so it’s best for the company if I don’t come in and distract others”. So selfless.

Plausibility: 10/10 It’s not exactly an excuse as such, but it is probably true
Entertainment: 3/10 Once you’re done admiring their sheer cheek you still have to work while they’re off sunbathing

I Accidentally Volunteered To Help My Neighbours Move

If this one’s true it doesn’t say much for your employee’s strength of will, does it? Sure, maybe they just happened to be passing when their new neighbours arrived with a truck full of furniture and their insincere “Let me know if you need a hand” was taken at face value, but somehow we doubt it. The mental image of them struggling to manoeuvre an armchair while trying to politely extricate themselves is too good to miss though. Classic sketch-show stuff, that.

Plausibility: 4/10 It could happen, especially if the employee is painfully British. But it probably didn't
Entertainment: 9/10 You’ll be telling this story at work dos for years; that’s got to be worth something

I Thought It Was A Bank Holiday*

Sure they did. This one might be vaguely convincing during that April/May period when every other week seems to contain a Bank Holiday but it doesn’t hold up all that well in October. Or the rest of the year, for that matter. The ability to just check online has made this particular excuse somewhat tricky to carry off thankfully, but it doesn’t mean that the occasional employee won’t think it’s worth a shot. It’s an especially bizarre excuse if your company stays open for Bank Holidays, although that does sort of make it more amusing as an ‘excuse’.

Plausibility: 2/10 The odds of them not checking just aren’t great, are they?
Entertainment: 2/10 More hopeless than hysterical, unfortunately

*For readers who aren’t from the UK and therefore don’t base time-off on the practices of financial institutions, a Bank Holiday is just a Public Holiday wearing a bowler hat. Honest.

I’d Forgotten Which Day Of The Week It Was

Linked closely to the last excuse, this one is mostly irritating because you regularly wake up thinking that it’s a day off too, but unlike the absentee you quickly realise the ugly truth and – here’s the kicker – get yourself to work on time. It could happen though, especially if they’ve been working weird shifts, so it probably deserves the benefit of the doubt just this once. If it’s the 3rd time it’s happened this month it’s a bit less convincing though.

Plausibility: 5/10 Maaaybe it’s true?
Entertainment: 3/10 At least you get to imagine the dawning horror on their face when they realised their mistake

My Uniform Shrank In The Wash

Okay, this one’s plausible. Maybe. More fun, at least. It does mean that you can have a good giggle at the idea of the employee wondering how they’re going to fit into a child-sized polo shirt, even as you remind them that the company has an entire storeroom full of spare uniform.

Plausibility: 4/10 This depends largely on whether your uniform actually could shrink in the wash, and also, crucially, whether you have a uniform to start with
Entertainment: 8/10 It might not be true, but you’ve got to admit it’s a funny idea

I Drove To The Wrong Place By Accident

It’s happened to the best of us; you’ve been in a new job for a few months, maybe even a year, without any problems, and yet one morning you find yourself driving to your previous place of work on autopilot. Oops. Making it all the way there without twigging is unlikely though, as is not immediately turning around and heading to your current place of work when you do realise. The thought of an employee blithely wandering into their old office before realising is worth a chuckle, though.

Plausibility: 5/10 This could definitely happen, but it’s not a great excuse for not showing up for work at all
Entertainment: 7/10 As an excuse it just gets funnier the further they drove

My Psychic Told Me Not To Go To Work

This is either an excellent or a terrible excuse, depending on how convinced you are by the mystic arts. After all, you’d rather your employee didn’t show up if they were going to be hit by lightning on arrival no matter how irritating it is finding someone to cover their shift, right? It’s harder to justify why they couldn’t have let you know sooner though and, say, booked the day off. Maybe they should look into upgrading their connection to the other side? Or possibly just coming up with better excuses.

Plausibility: 3/10 Okay, their psychic may genuinely have advised this, and more importantly they might believe them, but they probably could have warned you in advance
Entertainment: 4/10 It certainly gets points for creativity, but that’s about it

A Cat Wandered Into My House And Wouldn’t Leave

Let’s face it, if any animal would deliberately make you late for work it would be a cat. Love them or loathe them, there’s no denying that cats positively enjoy being jerks making this a more than plausible excuse, especially if your employee isn’t confident around animals. Picture the scene: Your diligent employee opens the front door with plenty of time to get to work and next-door’s feline answer to Satan immediately streaks past them and sits in the hallway demanding to be fed. Cue several hours of hilarity while your employee tries unsuccessfully to persuade their new lodger to leave without being clawed, bitten, or otherwise horribly maimed. You may not believe this one, but you have to appreciate it.

Plausibility: 7/10 Okay, it might not stop them from showing up for work at all but this could happen. Plus, the claw marks, or lack thereof, will prove the story tomorrow
Entertainment: 10/10 If your employee being held hostage by a cat doesn’t make you laugh we’re not sure what will

Something Ate My Work Schedule

It’s an oldie but a goldie, and if it’s good enough for generations of schoolchildren then it’s good enough for your employees. Whether it’s believable or not really comes down to what they’re claiming ate it though: A dog? Maybe. A goat? Definitely, if they have one. A younger sibling? Concerning.

Plausibility: 2/10 Something really could have eaten their schedule although you’d have hoped that they’d have thought of calling you to check their next shift
Entertainment: 5/10 You probably considered using this one at least once at school, so it’s enjoyably nostalgic if nothing else.


Unfortunately, no matter what you do you’re occasionally going to find an employee with a dubious excuse for not showing up to work. We can’t help you with that, but we can provide cloud-based shift scheduling software to make sure that they always know when they’re supposed to be at work, at least. And try to make you laugh when they skip work anyway. Can’t say fairer than that.

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