How To Write An Excuse Letter For Work Absence (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 13, 2020
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Sometimes you need to miss work for a doctor’s visit, a sick day, or personal reasons. You shouldn’t stress about needing to take a day off every once in a while, but it’s important to tell your boss.

While each company has different policies around sick days, leaves of absence, and other time off, you definitely need to let your supervisor know you’ll be out. There are many ways to do that, but one of the best and most professional ways is through a formal excuse letter.

In these letters, you can explain when you’ll be gone and for how long so your boss and your team is prepared for your absence. You’ll want to double-check for any company guidelines or policies before you write your letter. Generally, companies will accept a short formal excuse letter before you plan on being absent.

These letters are easy to write and shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to get your information across. We’ll walk you through some letter writing tips, the steps of writing a professional excuse letter, and give you a few examples of fully written excuse letter templates

Tips for Writing an Absent Excuse Letter

Like any professional letter, you can follow a template and keep the content short and sweet. Employers don’t need an entire essay on why you have to miss work, but they do need the basics. These letters are just meant to let your boss know when and why you’ll be absent. Here are a few tips for writing a good absence excuse letter for your job.

  • Reference your employee guidelines. Usually, companies have defined processes for HR tasks, like time off. Consult your employee handbook or double-check what the process is with someone before drafting your letter. Your company should indicate what information they need in an excuse letter or who to deliver your letter to.

  • Follow business letter format. As a professional letter, you’ll need to write your excuse letter like any other professional letter. We’ll give you a template and business letter samples at the end of this article if you need help.

  • Know your company’s leave policies. Some companies make a distinction between excused and unexcused absences. Make sure that when you submit your absence letter, you’re leaving work for an approved reason. It depends on your company, but typically pre-planned events like doctor’s appointments, religious holidays, jury duty, or helping immediate family members can be considered excused absences.

  • Don’t abuse your leave. Of course, some employees need to take time off, but that doesn’t mean you should be sending an absence excuse letter once a week or extending your absence past the necessary window. You should think about your reason for leaving before you write and send your excuse letter. The more leaves of absence you take, the more likely it is that you’ll end up in a conversation with your boss if you leave all of the time.

  • Talk to your teammates. You should coordinate with your team before you draft your letter so you have an idea of who can cover your work if there’s anything that has to get done while you’re gone. This will not only make you look good as a proactive employee, but you’ll also feel better while you’re out knowing who’s got your tasks covered.

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  • Stay professional. You don’t have to share all of the details of where you’ll be or what you’ll be doing while you’re out of the office. It’s better to keep things short and concise since these letters often go on file for future reference.

  • Think about whether you can work remotely or not. In today’s world, telecommuting or working remotely is easier than ever. If you’re planning an absence because you can’t physically make it to the office instead of being unable to work, think about requesting to work from home (or wherever you’ll be) instead of taking an absence. Often, you can save your allotted time off by asking to work remotely temporarily.

  • Make time for your co-workers to reach you. Even if you’re out of the office, it doesn’t mean your company stops working. You should provide a way (like phone, email, or text) for your teammates to reach you and general hours when you’ll respond. Most likely, your colleagues won’t need to contact you, but it’s good to be prepared and offer this anyway.

  • Get your letter written as soon as possible. The more notice you give someone your absence letter, the better. They’ll have more time to coordinate with you and your co-workers to figure out what needs to get done before, during, and after your absence.

  • Offer your help. When you write your letter, make sure to include specific ways you can help your team while you’re gone or offer to brainstorm ways to help. Your boss and your teammates will thank you for being flexible and helpful before you leave

  • Cover your bases for unexpected absences too. We’re mainly addressing how to write an absence excuse letter for planned absences. But if something comes up and you miss work, you should still send a message as soon as you can. It will look good for you if you follow up on an unexpected leave with a formal letter explaining why you were out and how you’ll make up the work you missed.

    First, contact someone at your office to let them know you’re not coming in, then send a follow up formal absence excuse letter within the next 24-48 hours. For those letters, you can follow our general tips, with a few extra apologies for missing work without notice.

Two Sample Formal Excuse Letters

Here are two examples of how you can write a formal absence excuse letter for work. While you can be absent from work for many reasons, we’re giving you examples of the most common work absences – jury duty and a medical procedure.

When writing your letter, make sure to follow the business headings format and follow any applicable company guidelines. Above all, try to keep your letter short, so your boss (or whoever you address it to) doesn’t have to spend hours trying to figure out when and why you’re leaving.

You only need three paragraphs to communicate all of your information. Start with an opening paragraph and state that this is an excuse letter for a future absence. You should list your reason and the dates you’ll be out of the office in this first section.

Next, give more details about the absence, like who will cover your duties or how you’ll be available for your teammates to reach you. If anyone has agreed to help you with your projects, make sure to name them. Sometimes it can be helpful to include your co-workers’ information, too, if they’re covering for you.

Finally, end by thanking the person you’re writing to for being understanding, include any additional information and offer to help them plan for your absence. With these three easy steps, you’ll have a perfectly professional absence excuse letter for your boss.

Leave of absence for jury duty

Jane Doe
Account Manager
ABC Company
123 Main St
City, State 12345

October 20, 2020

Karen Smith
HR Director
ABC Company
100 Street Rd
City, State 12345

Dear Ms. Smith,

I am writing to inform you of my intent to be absent from work starting Monday, November 2nd, until Wednesday, November 4th. I have been summoned for jury duty, so I will be unable to be in the office or work remotely.

I will be checking my email and scheduling phone calls in the morning and evening, outside of jury hours, while I am out. I expect to be available between 7 am and 9 am as well as 5 pm to 8 pm for work matters. I’ve arranged for my colleague, Ron Miller, to handle any communication outside of the company for me.

Please let me know if there’s anything else I can provide you with or help arrange extra support while I’m out. Thank you for understanding.

Jane Doe

Leave of absence for a medical procedure

John Smith
Sales Associate
Number 1 Company
123 Main St
City, State 12345

October 21, 2020

Mary Williams
Director of Sales
Number 1 Company
100 Company Rd
City, State 12345

Dear Mrs. Williams,

Please accept this letter as my formal excuse for absence from work. As I mentioned previously, I will need to undergo a small operation on Friday, October 30. I’ve attached my doctor’s note for your reference below. I expect to be out of the office both Friday, October 30, and Monday, November 2.

I have spoken with my team, and Joan Anderson has agreed to cover the weekly reports that I am responsible for drafting. Bill Doe will check in with me and send over any urgent work that I need to address at the end of each day.

Thank you for understanding, and please let me know if I can help arrange anything else while I’m out of the office. I’d be happy to help you in any way that I can.

John Smith

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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