9 Professional Ways to Say “Family Emergency”

There’s no easy way to say you have a family emergency in the workplace. However, sometimes, you have to handle the situation and let your boss know.

So, is there a more professional way to say “family emergency”?

This article will explore the answer to that question. Once you’ve read through this, you’ll have some great alternatives.

Is It Professional to Say “Family Emergency”?

It is professional to say “family emergency” in itself. You can include it in an email to your boss without further explanation. Generally, it does the trick.

You can use it as an excuse to be absent from work. There’s nothing wrong with it. Though, you should only use it when it’s true.

Do not use “family emergency” as a fake excuse to get out of work. It’s wrong, and you’ll get caught out eventually.

Check out this example to see how to include it in your writing:

I’m so sorry, but I have a family emergency, and I will not be able to come to work today.


  • It’s simple yet effective.
  • You do not have to explain any further if you don’t want to.


  • Using it too much can lead your boss to stop believing you.
  • You may want to use a slightly more inspiring phrase that isn’t overused.

It’s clear that “family emergency” is a great phrase to include in a resume. However, it’s not the only one. So, it’s worth looking into some alternatives.

Keep reading to find what to say instead of “family emergency.” We’ll also provide email samples to help you understand each one.

What to Say Instead of “Family Emergency”

  • Urgent family matter
  • Private matter
  • Trouble at home
  • Family business
  • Urgent family issue
  • Problems at home
  • Household issue
  • Domestic situation
  • Family crisis

1. Urgent Family Matter

Another way to say “family emergency” is “urgent family matter.” Unfortunately, there’s no preventing urgent matters at work.

When they come up, you’ll need to sort them out. Whether you’re emailing your boss or arranging a meeting with a client doesn’t matter.

Whatever the case, if an urgent family matter comes up, you should include it in an apology email.

You shouldn’t go into details. And most of the time, your clients will not ask you for further information.

Leave it at “urgent family matter” and ask if they can reschedule a meeting. Or, if you’re talking to your boss, ask for a few days off to sort out the matter.

Here’s a great email example to show you how it works:

Dear Mr. Smythe,

An urgent family matter has come up. I’m afraid I will not be able to come to work today.

All the best,
Sarah Harding

2. Private Matter

Knowing how to say “family emergency” at work is simple with “private matter.” You can use it when talking to coworkers or informing your boss that you need to take some time off.

Generally, saying “private matter” avoids any unnecessary attention. Since you’ve said it’s “private,” most people won’t ask any further questions.

Even if you use the “private matter” to take a day off work, it’s unlikely that your boss will want to ask what’s wrong.

Instead, they’ll accept your email and let you take the day off to sort out the matter.

Check out this email sample as well:

Dear Jack,

I’m afraid that I’ll have to take today off because of a private matter. I’ll keep you updated when I have more information.

Best wishes,
Dan Cole

3. Trouble at Home

Not every alternative is appropriate in an email format. However, “trouble at home” is still appropriate in formal settings when you’re having difficulty getting to work.

For example, you can call your boss to say you have “trouble at home.” That way, you can let them know that you’re struggling to get to work or that something has come up preventing you from making it in.

You may need to go into more detail here, especially if you’re asking for a day off. So, be prepared to explain more about it if your boss needs to know.

Perhaps these phone call examples will help you:

There’s trouble at home, so I won’t be able to come to work today.

I’m so sorry, but I’m having trouble at home. I can’t fix it, so I can’t come to work.

4. Family Business

If you want to know how to say “family emergency” in an email, try “family business.” It’s a little less powerful than “family emergency,” but it’s still very effective.

Using “business” instead of “emergency” shows your situation is less problematic. It’s a good way to explain to your boss that you need time off work without worrying them.

After all, saying “family emergency” usually makes people assume the worst. But “family business” is a less impactful phrase that suggests something bad has happened, but it’s nothing you can’t handle.

Check out this email example as well:

Dear Ms. Clariton,

Some urgent family business has come up. Therefore, I won’t be able to make it to work today or tomorrow.

Scott Howard

5. Urgent Family Issue

You may also write “urgent family issue” in an email instead of “family emergency.” The use of “urgent” here is enough to show that you need to take some time to sort it out.

It works best when emailing your supervisor. After all, it’s a good way to let them know you won’t be coming to work without providing full details.

Your supervisor shouldn’t ask you for more information here. However, there’s no guarantee this will be the case. Hopefully, they’ll avoid pressing you for information. You do not have to share more details if you don’t want to.

We also recommend referring to this email sample:

Dear Melissa,

I’m afraid that I’ve had to deal with an urgent family issue. Please forgive me, but I can’t attend any of my shifts this week.

Kind regards,
Maria Jenkins

6. Problems at Home

Another great phrase to include when calling your boss is “problems at home.” It shows you need to sort a few things out in your personal life.

Of course, most people place their personal life above their working life. So, when you have “problems at home,” you will likely want to take some time to fix those problems.

Check out these examples to see how you might call in:

I’m having problems at home, sir. So, I’m afraid I won’t be able to come to work today.

I’m afraid that I’m having problems at home. Right now, it’s impossible for me to get to work.

7. Household Issue

You may also write “household issue” in an email rather than “family emergency.” It’s a little more generic and less specific, but it works well when trying to explain that you need time off work.

A “household issue” could refer to any number of things at home. It’s less impactful than a “family emergency,” so you may find that your boss wants to know more before letting you take any time off for no reason.

You can refer to the following example as well:

Dear Mr. Marker,

There is a pressing household issue that I need to sort out. I’m so sorry, but today is not good for me.

All the best,
Suzanna Breed

8. Domestic Situation

Try using “domestic situation” in your next email to replace “family emergency.” It works really well to sound formal and respectful when asking for help outside of work.

Generally, a “domestic situation” implies something has gone wrong at home. Perhaps one of your children is ill, and you cannot find someone to look after them. Therefore, you must take time off work to care for them yourself.

For the most part, your boss will appreciate this. They will not try to stop you from dealing with your domestic situation.

Perhaps this example will also help you:

Dear Alison,

There is a domestic situation at home. I must remain here until things have gotten better, so I cannot come to work.

I’m so sorry,
Peter Parker

9. Family Crisis

Okay, we’ve saved one of the more powerful phrases for last. “Family crisis” is a strong alternative to “family emergency” that shows something has gone terribly wrong at home.

Using “crisis” in this context implies you must go home from work. It suggests that if you don’t go home immediately, things will only worsen for you and your family.

So, you should use it when you don’t plan on explaining more to your boss. Call your boss to tell them you’re having a crisis, and then take the day off work to try fixing it.

Here are a few phone call examples to help you with it:

I’m in the middle of a family crisis right now! Please forgive me, but I cannot come to work.

Well, I’m having a family crisis, and my family relies on me to help them. I’ll let you know when I can come to work.