What Is an Excuse Letter?

An excuse letter is written by a student, an employee, or a juror who misses a day or more at school, work, or jury duty. By submitting an excuse letter, they notify their absence and explain the reasons for their absence. The reasons written in an excuse letter should be valid to be accepted. Apart from writing the reasons, an excuse should be able to mention the date and time of the absence as well as a doctor’s note, if any. This letter should be written as direct and simple as possible as it should only contain the vital and basic information your school, employer, or other entity will be interested to know. In some cases, an excuse letter may be written on behalf of the absentee. Parents or guardians may write an excuse letter for their young children who miss a day or more in class.

Writing and submitting an excuse letter is particularly important in the corporate setting especially that absenteeism in the workplace can negatively affect the performance of a company. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) survey, the absence rate of full-time wage and salary workers from various occupations and industry is 2.9%. The same BLS survey also reveals there is a total lost work time rate of 1.5 hours. The numbers may not sound alarming enough but keep in mind that when it comes to business, time is money and any time lost means money and resources wasted.


Valid Excuses for Missing Work, School, or Jury Duty

Admit it―there are days when you don’t feel like going to work or attending class. Who doesn’t have those days, anyway? You should also admit the fact you may have ditched a day at work or school and used whatever excuses you can think of upon writing an excuse letter. However, there are companies who have strict policies. So to be safe, you need to know some of the good and valid excuses for school, work, or jury duty that allows your excuse letter to be accepted. After all, excuses are what excuse letter are made up of. That said, read on below to know the most common excuses that are good and valid as well as the excuses that you should avoid mentioning at all costs.

Missing Work

Among the most common excuses used in work is sickness. And you can even add your doctor’s appointment as part of it, especially if you did not simply acquire some seasonal flu. Another excuse that can warrant you a day off from your work is an emergency. It can be a house emergency such as broken pipes, sparking fridge, or a gas leak. Whatever house emergency it may be, your employer will surely understand as it’s normal to have breakdowns at home. It can also be a family emergency, and if they have children, your employer will consider it, especially that children need extra work and attention. It is also valid if a family member is sick, and there is no else who can tend to them.

Avoid making made-up excuses such as someone’s death twice or car breakdowns when you can opt to commute. Avoid making invalid excuses as well, such as feeling tired because others were also tired, but they still make it to work that day or having a hangover because of who told you to drink and party all night when it is still the weekday? Another thing you should avoid is using a distant relative’s sickness as it is no longer believable.

Missing School

The good and valid excuses you can use for school are similar to the reasons for miss out a day or more at work. Such excuses include sickness, doctor or dentist appointments, and emergencies. But as a student, your parents can excuse you, such as when you had a pre-approved family vacation or when your parents made a pre-arranged special request with your school. In this case, it is your parents or legal guardians who should be responsible for writing an excuse letter on your behalf. If you are a working student and you are required to report for work before or beyond your fixed working hours, your school will surely consider this as it could be your means of living and paying off your bills and school fees.

Do not even think your school will honor any reason that involves oversleeping or alarm failure. Your school won’t even honor a reason that includes missing your ride to school, needing an extra hour of sleep, or even your grooming appointment. Be sure to check your school handbook to know more about the rules and regulations regarding student attendance.

Missing Jury Duty

There are now courts who can already excuse people out of their jury duty. If you are given a duty as a juror in court, you must know the valid excuses that the court would allow. You can excuse yourself from being a juror in federal courts if you are 70 years old and above. Or if you have served as a juror for two years prior, if you are a part of an emergency (ambulance, firefighter, etc.) crew, and if you are presently in extreme hardship. If any of these apply to your situation, use any of these to excuse yourself from your jury duty.  But for local and state courts, ensure that you get yourself familiar with each of their different rules to be guided.

Excuses related to family, work, and health are also valid and even has more chances for approval. Just be sure that whatever reasons you have for not meeting your jury duties, always secure documents that will support your excuse. For example, you were sick and made a doctor’s appointment. You should then have to include your doctor’s notes along with your excuse letter.

How to Compose an Excuse Letter for Work, School, and Jury Duty

Excuse letters are commonly used at work, in school, and in court. And if you belong to any or a combination of these, make sure that you already have the basic knowledge of how to compose a detailed excuse letter that will surely be honored by the entity who will receive it. If you need to polish your know-how on writing this type of formal letter or if you are still not skilled in writing one, read on with easy-to-follow steps below to be further guided.

Excuse Letter for Work

If you missed work for a day or more, you are required to submit an excuse letter to notify your employer of your absence. Even if the company you work for did not specifically indicate to provide one in their attendance policies, submit one anyway for record purposes or just in case.

1.Secure the Basics: To start your letter, you need to secure the basics, which starts with your return address, followed by the date when you wrote or sent the letter and the inside address. The inside address contains more details, which include the title and full name of the receiver, the position and the department of your receiver, and the company name. Since it is a company matter, do not write the home address of the receiver. Ensure to write the right title of your receiver and do not make the common mistake of not knowing whether it’s a Mr., Mrs., Ms., or a Miss.2.Compose the Body of the Letter: Before you start writing the body of the letter, ensure that you already know how to address the receiver with the proper honorifics. The body of your letter should contain direct, simple, and relevant details. Anything unnecessary will make your letter less formal and professional. Directly state the reason for your absence. So, if you are sick, you don’t have to completely write the details of your sickness because the details of a doctor’s note will suffice. Simply write the date when you were or will be absent. An optional detail will be an offer that you will help in making up for the day you were absent in a way that you can manage even when you are away from work. For instance, you can still email your client the project you were working on while being away.3.Close and Check the Letter: Close the letter with proper and formal closings such as Sincerely yours, Respectfully yours, and so on. Before you print and submit your letter, you must check its contents first. Check the policies of your company first to know whether they require an excuse letter for absence or not. And if they do, ensure that the reason for your absence is valid. See to it that you will check whether or not you need to call in or send an email before sending an excuse letter. By handing in an excuse letter, you will have something to show from your file that can prove the legitimacy of your absence when you will be questioned. Apart from that, do check the grammar and spelling of your letter. Ensure that your letter is well-written and comprehensive to read.

Excuse Letter for School

Even if students are highly discouraged from being absent in school so that they won’t miss out on an important lesson that will hardly get discussed again by their teachers. However, there are many circumstances in the students’ lives where they will have no choice but to miss a day or more in school. And when such days arrive, it is best if students have the basic know-how of writing an excuse letter that can help them in communicating the reasons for their absence.

1.Review Your School Handbook: You might not be aware, but your school has specific policies on absences. That is why before you sit down and write your excuse letter, you must review your school’s rules and regulations regarding absences so you would know beforehand whether your excuse for missing out a class is valid or not. While this may not be the actual part of writing the excuse letter, you must do this step first so you would know the direction of your letter’s structure.2.Cover the Basics: Similar to writing an excuse letter for work, start writing an excuse letter for school with the basic first parts of a letter, which includes the return address, the date, the inside address, and salutations. The inside address should contain the professor of the specific subject class you missed out on or your department head. Make sure you get the right title and/or honorifics, full name, position, and department as a proper courtesy. Don’t make the mistake of addressing it to the wrong person or getting the recipient’s name wrong―he or she is your professor, and you should know better.3.Discuss the Details of Your Absence: Discuss the full details regarding your absence in the body of your excuse letter. Three is the ideal number of paragraphs that your letter should have. The first paragraph, which is the introductory paragraph, is where you will introduce your purpose for writing, and that is to excuse yourself from being absent for a day or more in your class. Apart from indicating a brief statement regarding your absence, specify the date, time, and the subject or course you missed. The second paragraph, which is also your supporting paragraph, should live up to its name and provide the details that will support your reason for being absent. Finally, write the third or concluding paragraph. For this part, you may state whether you can still hand in your assignment or project via email especially if you are submitting an excuse letter prior to the day when you will miss your class.

Excuse Letter for Jury Duty

Being assigned with a duty to be a juror means that an individual is summoned to serve in a jury. It could be to a local court, state court, or federal court. If you are presently in a situation wherein you cannot help but skip your jury duty, you must submit an excuse letter that will state your reasons for it.

1.Know the Excuses Allowed by the Court: The local, state, or federal court may have a list of excuses that they honor should the assigned juror should they wish to skip their duty. It is your responsibility to know the possible reasons that the court will acknowledge as valid.2.Compose the Letter Proper: The basics of an excuse letter for jury duty include the return address, date, inside address, and the salutations―these are the details that you should ensure when you start writing an excuse letter for jury duty. This is followed by the body of the letter that contains the details as to why you will miss your jury duty and additional details that explain it. See to it that your excuses are allowed by the court who gave you a jury duty.3.Review the Contents of Your Letter: Keep in mind that you will submit an excuse letter for jury duty to the court, and this only means that you need to ensure that you have thoroughly reviewed the contents of your excuse letter. Make sure that the contents of your letter are indeed valid to increase the chances of getting your letter acknowledged by the court who gave you the duty to be a juror. 


At some point in your life, you will need to write an excuse letter. And when this time comes, you won’t have to worry anymore since the excuse letter writing guidelines provided above will get you covered. Plus, this article also contains excuse letter templates and examples that you can conveniently download and further customize for your personal use.