The aim of this study was twofold. First, we examined depleting and enriching effects of employees' home domain (home demands and quality time spent at home) on unscheduled absence from work. Second, we tested the assumption of the medical and withdrawal models that absence duration and frequency are uniquely predicted by respectively health condition and job motivation. We used longitudinal, different-source data from 1014 employees. The results showed that home quality time was negatively related to absence frequency and duration in the following year through a physical pathway (less physical stress symptoms and health complaints) and through a psychological pathway (less psychological stress symptoms, increased job motivation). Employees with heavy home demands reported more physical and psychological stress symptoms, more health complaints, and lower job motivation. Accordingly, they had longer and more frequent sick leaves in the consecutive year. We conclude that the home domain adds to our understanding of absence from work. In addition, the model including cross pathways between health complaints and job motivation on the one hand, and absence frequency and duration on the other, best fitted the data. Thus, a clear distinction between volitional absence (frequency) and absence due to illness (duration) seems hard to justify. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.