How to Write a Sick-Day Email Message With Examples and Tips
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 1 November 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
If you're sick, it may be necessary to take time off from work, both to rest and recover and to protect your colleagues from a potentially contagious disease. When you take a sick day, it's important to communicate that you'll be out of the office to your managers, coworkers and clients and how they can proceed while you're away. Being proactive with this information may show your coworkers that you're responsible and help you return to work with less stress. In this article, we explain how to write a sick day email message and how to write an out of office message with tips for taking off work for a sick day.
How to write a sick day email message
If you're feeling sick, it's important to notify your supervisor immediately to inform them that you can't work. To write a sick day message via email, follow these steps:
1. Check company policy
Different jobs and industries have varying protocols for sick days, especially for shift jobs that may require another employee to cover your work duties. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the company's sick leave policies, including how it affects your pay, whether you have to accrue a certain amount of hours before taking sick time and what you're expected to do when taking a sick day. The company policy also usually states the process and medium you might use to inform others of your absence.
2. Consider sharing details about your condition
You're not typically required to disclose personal information, including your condition, to your employer. You can just share the fact that you're not feeling well. Though providing details about your condition can help you and your supervisor plan realistically for your absence from work. For example, some strains of a flu virus may resolve within 24 hours, but strep throat usually doesn't.
Consider your relationship with your supervisor and the nature of your illness when deciding whether to disclose details about your condition. Generally, it's best for you to share whichever details you feel comfortable with your supervisor knowing.
3. State how long you expect to be out of the office
Try to include how long you expect to be out of the office, if possible. If you've visited a doctor, they might prescribe a certain amount of time off. If you don't plan on visiting a doctor, you may be able to estimate when you might feel better given your condition and activities. Often, you might be able to take one sick day from work to rest and feel well enough to return the next day. If you're planning to take more than one day off, mention the exact date you will be returning to work.
Here's an example of a sick-day email beginning that includes this information:
I'm writing to let you know that I developed a fever last night. I hoped it would go away by this morning, but it looks like I'm still running a high temperature. I expect to be back in the office tomorrow, given my temperature goes back to normal.
4. Include information on your current projects
If you have an important deadline, project or presentation that day, work with your manager to ensure they reschedule the deadline or cover your work so it can still move forward in your absence. Provide them with as much context and details as possible. Consider writing something like this:
I was scheduled to present at our company meeting at 2 pm on the marketing department's objectives for this quarter. I shared my presentation notes and materials with Avery Ong so she can handle the presentation in my absence. Please let me know if you need me to provide anything else for the meeting.
5. Ask for additional steps
After you provide all the details and information you feel comfortable with, close your sick day email by enquiring about additional steps. Often, you don't need to undertake any additional steps or formalities to take your sick day. Your supervisor may direct you to a system to schedule your time off so the payroll professionals can account for it. Consider staying available on call or email for at least an hour so you can respond to any follow-up messages your supervisor may send.
Example of a sick day email message
When writing your own sick day email to your supervisor and colleagues, consider this example:
I wanted to let you know that I will not be able to come to work today. Unfortunately, I developed a stomach bug that has made it very difficult to get work done. I went to urgent care last night and have been told it should subside within 24 hours. I do not expect to be online throughout the day.
While I do plan to be back in the office tomorrow, I've asked Kelly to take over for me today in case of any emergencies. I had an important call scheduled with a supplier, but Daniel has agreed to manage the meeting in my absence.
Please let me know of any additional steps you'd like me to take to ensure the day runs as smoothly as possible in my absence.
How to write an out of office message
In addition to writing a sick-day email for your manager and colleagues, it's also helpful to set up an out of office automatic response on your email and potentially any work phone number voicemail. Since this message can go to everyone who emails or calls you, you can be as conservative as you'd like with information. If you have clients, you might just say that you're out of the office instead of explaining that you're sick. Consider this example when creating your out of office message for your phone and email:
Thank you for reaching out. I'm out of the office today, so please expect a delay in my response. If you have an emergency, please reach out to my supervisor, Mary Mullins, at email@example.com.
I will be back in the office during regular working hours beginning (date).
Thank you for your patience,
Read more: 15 Out of Office Messages for Professionals
Tips for taking a sick day
Consider these tips when taking a sick day off from work:
Contact your supervisor through the appropriate medium
Be sure to use the appropriate and official communication medium when informing your supervisor that you're taking a sick day. Some companies require you to call the office phone, while others may prefer an email or a simple text. When preparing for a sick day, contact your manager first in case they have specific instructions and let them know as soon as possible. If you're able, you might consider texting or calling them if it's a reasonable hour and you have a relationship with your boss that allows this form of communication.
Give as much notice as possible
Though you can't plan a sick day in advance, it's best to provide as much advanced notice as possible when you're going to miss work. For morning shifts, you may only be able to give an hour of notice, but if you're working an afternoon or evening shift, try to contact your supervisor earlier. It's important to try to contact your supervisor before the beginning of your shift, if possible. This allows both you and your supervisor to have more time to make suitable arrangements for your absence.
Monitor your symptoms
Try to monitor your symptoms so you can make a better determination of when you might be able to return to work. It's often helpful to note when you started to feel ill and how your condition is progressing. You might also use this practice to notice patterns in your health. For example, you might notice that you get headaches when the weather changes, so you can plan ahead for the possibility.
Consider working from home
If you're able to work from home, you might want to consider that option instead of using your sick leave. This can be a great option for you if you have a sickness that is contagious, but you still feel well enough to work. Ask your supervisor if this is an option for you, as you may still need to make arrangements since you can't go into the office.
Find a replacement
Though it's not usually the employee's responsibility to find a replacement when they take a sick day off, you might consider helping your supervisor to find someone to take over your duties for the day. This can be especially helpful if you work shifts that require a certain number of professionals to work. Consider contacting your colleagues to see if anyone is able to help fill your role for the day. If someone agrees to take over your shift, be sure to include their name in your sick day email message to your supervisor.
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