How To Write A Sick Leave Email (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 5, 2020
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Everyone gets sick, and sometimes your illness is enough to warrant a day off from your job. When this happens, it’s essential to communicate your absence to your team, your manager, and anyone else who may need to know if your absence affects their work.

When you feel ill and anticipate needing to miss a day of work, ensure you call out and let your manager or employer know as soon as possible to avoid negative consequences or unintentional additional work for your colleagues.

Every company will have a different sick leave policy. Be sure to understand them and follow the procedures appropriately. Some workplaces are more relaxed about this, while others may be more formal. Typically these guidelines are outlined by human resources (HR) and available in your employee handbook.

It’s most common that your employer will expect a notice of absence in writing. This can include letter, email, or even instant messages. However, some managers may just want a phone call or text message. Either way, it’s important to cover all of your bases and ensure you provide at least an email to your boss.

Below, we outline some common practices on how to notify your boss about your absence at work.

Understand the Company Policy

As stated above, every company will have different expectations and guidelines in its employee handbook on communicating a day off from work. Depending on your company, you may have specific sick days that are different than personal days off. The requirements for these types of days away from work will differ from company to company.

Some companies require an employee to inform their managers of their absences at least two hours before their shifts start. Others may require a phone call instead of sending an email or text to ensure they received your communication.

Depending on your job, you may need to turn in a doctor’s note for leaves that are longer than a few days. However, other companies might ask you to submit a doctor’s note for just a single day off. Ask your manager if you are uncertain what the proper policy is for this.

Additionally, it’s crucial not just to understand the company policy but also your boss’s preferences. Your boss might be busy in the mornings and not look at their email. In this case, a text or a phone call might be better to inform them and ensure they see that you will not be working that day.

Don’t forget that your manager is not the only person you need to inform about your absence. If you have any people working underneath you, you must also notify them of your absence. If they are new employees, it might be a good idea to give them a person they can go to with questions, so they’re not bothering you while you’re trying to recover.

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Similarly, if you work on a team with other colleagues and your time-off will affect their workload in any way, you must inform them that you will be missing a day of work. This doesn’t need to be only people on your team. This can extend to other teams as well.

Don’t forget to check your calendar as well. Chances are you may have meetings you will need to miss due to your illness. Be sure to communicate with the other individuals in the meeting that you will not be in attendance. Do this as soon as possible so that they have the chance to reschedule in a timely manner.

How to Notify Your Boss

Whether your company policy outlines this or not, it’s always a smart idea to put your notification for sick time in writing. This is important to protect you for proof if it is needed later, as well as make it easy for your manager to keep a record of your time off.

If you have a sudden illness, try your hardest to let your manager or supervisor know as quickly as possible. If you can send a text message, email, or phone call to let them know, that is the best method for reaching someone. Again, understand your manager or employers’ preference on how it’s best to contact them in these types of situations.

After you give them the initial heads up, when you’re feeling up to it, be sure to provide them with a formal absence excuse letter or email, along with any required documentation such as a doctor’s note or a note from the hospital or emergency room.

If it’s possible, give your boss a run-down of the things you will miss during your time off. If there are time-sensitive items on your to-do list, be sure to make your boss aware of them. It is best practice to try and have a game plan in case of your absence. But if this isn’t feasible, your best bet is to let your manager know and see if a colleague can cover things on your project while you are out.

What to Include in a Sick Day Email

Your sick day email should be straightforward and to the point. Here are the things you should consider including when writing your email or letter to your manager:

  • Reason for absence. This part can either be specific or vague, depending on the type of relationship you have with your boss and the cause of your illness. Write what sort of ailment you’ve come down with and what’s preventing you from coming to the office or logging onto your computer. If there are specific details you feel will help your boss understand better, be sure to include them. But a concise reason is perfectly acceptable.

  • How long you’ll be out. Again, depending on the type of illness you’ve come down with, you may be able to predict how long you’ll be out. For illnesses like the flu or a cold, you may be able to anticipate only being out for a few days. However, your condition may be more complicated than that, so if you’re not sure when you can return to work, give your doctor a call and ask them for an estimate so that you can provide that to your employer.

  • Address how available you will be. You should give your boss some insight into your availability, depending on how sick you are. If you can check through your emails, let them know. If you can give them your phone number to take emergency text and calls, do that as well. However, ensure that you take care of yourself first. If you are too sick to take calls and emails, let your boss know and allow yourself time to rest.

  • Clarify whether you’ll make up your work or if you have a contingency plan. If you can work from home, let your boss know that you plan to log on for a while over your sick day. Senior-level employees may have difficulty getting an actual day off from work, as they’ll need to be available for their employees. However, if you require a full-day rest, ensure you have some type of plan to keep your projects moving.

  • Documentation. Let your employer know of any doctor’s notes or other documentation you will obtain to show to them once your sick time is over.

  • Name a point person. Choose a person from our team who can help take over some of the tasks for your current projects or meetings so that your manager and other employees across the organization will know who to contact with questions. Ensure you communicate with this person before you announce that they will be taking over your duties.

  • Professional closing. Be sure to end your note on a professional close with your name.

Examples of Sick Leave Templates

The sick leave template below is just an example of what you may want to write to your boss.

April 16
Maria Reynolds
Marketing Director
Apple, Inc.

Dear Larry,

I am writing this letter to inform you that I will need to take two days off from work due to an illness I am experiencing. Luckily, I have visited my doctor, who has given me antibiotics, but he advised me to stay away from others for at least two days to ensure I am no longer contagious.

Attached, please find a letter from my doctor confirming that I must take these days off to recover fully. I apologize for any inconvenience that my absence may cause, but I have communicated with Dean, who will take over as the point person on our upcoming Apple Watch event. Additionally, I will plan to periodically check my emails over the next two days if I feel better and respond to any urgent inquiries. When I return to work on Thursday, I will do my best to catch up on what I’ve missed.

If you are able to record our Marketing Team Call, I will listen to the recording when I am feeling better. If anything urgent arises while I am out of the office, please feel free to call or text me at 235-324-2352, and I will do my best to respond.

Additionally, please let me know if you need any more information from my doctor. Should I need any additional time off, I will let you know as soon as possible. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns about anything related to my workload or leave request.

Thank you so much for your understanding.


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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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