You’ve just settled down for the night but suddenly feel like the plague has taken over your body – you’re shivering, your eyes are sore, and your nose is red and raw. And you know that not even a good night’s sleep or a generous dose of cold medication can help you at this point. And, on top of everything else, just the thought of dragging yourself into work in the morning sounds a lot like physical torture. So, what should you do?
If you’re too ill to go to work, then the smartest thing to do is to stay at home and rest. But you’ll first need to notify your manager or supervisor of the situation, so that they can make all the appropriate arrangements to cover your absence – and the sooner, the better!
The most appropriate – and fastest – method to do this is sending your boss a quick email. If you’re unsure how to go about writing this email, though, don’t worry: we’ve got you covered.
Read on to find out how to write a sick day email, plus use our samples as a guide to write your own!
Structuring the email
As with any workplace email, you need to ensure your sick day email reads correctly and is error-free – no spelling mistakes or slang words, please! Generally speaking, it should be written in a professional tone, no matter how sick you are.
The email should follow a clear structure, as outline below.
- Subject: The subject of your email should be pretty straightforward, something along the lines of: ‘[Your Name] – Sick Day’ or ‘Not Feeling Well’.
- On-arrival notices: If you want to keep the email confidential, you can include a notation with the words ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ or ‘PERSONAL’ in the subject line.
- Salutation: As with any formal letter in the workplace, you need to address your boss professionally. You don’t have to refer them by their last name but do open with ‘Dear [your boss’s name]’!
- Opening paragraph: Begin your email by explaining that you are feeling under the weather and will not be in the office today.
- Body: In the body, explain your illness – without going into any gory details, of course!
- Final paragraph: In the final paragraph, you should explain who will be able to cover your work in your absence or if you’re able to keep an eye on your emails from home.
- Closing: Here, thank your manager for their understanding and let them know when you plan on returning to the office.
- Your name: As with any email, sign off appropriately with ‘Regards’ followed by your name.
Tips to follow
- Alert your colleagues if necessary: If your colleagues are relying on you to complete a project, let them know that you won’t be going into the office today and offer instructions on how they can proceed without you. If you’re planning to check your emails or answer phone calls, let them know.
- Follow company policy: Make sure you’re following the normal protocol when it comes to calling in sick. Depending on your company’s policy, you may be required to get a sick note from a doctor for just a day off or to call ahead in addition to sending an email. Make sure you’re up to date with these procedures and that you follow them to a T.
- Do it early: Send your manager an email as soon as you realise that you can’t go to work. If it’s late in the evening, you can follow up the next day with a phone call, by which time you’d have gotten some rest and your manager will have already begun preparations to cover your absence. If you’re sending your email in the morning, meanwhile, make sure it’s when your alarm goes off and not the time you should be starting work. This will only look like you simply missed your alarm and are making excuses to avoid work.
- Keep it simple: You don’t have to go into too much detail about your illness. You can say what it is you have (if it’s not too embarrassing) and request for the absence to be taken out of your sick leave allowance. There’s no need to describe how many times you threw up or how you’re left in bed sweating buckets.
We’ve put together two examples to give you an idea of what your email should look like: one for when you’re taking leave and do not want to be disturbed and another for when you’re able to work from home.
You can modify them according to your particular situation.
If you're just too sick
If you can work from home
Things to remember
- Copy in the HR department: If company policy requires you to copy in the HR department and notify them of your absence, be sure to do this. They’ll need documentation for their records.
- Review before you send: As with any letter or professional email, be sure to proofread it before you hit the ‘Send’ button. The last thing you need is to be judged for careless mistakes or typos.
- Remember to fill in a sickness form on your return: On your return to work, you’ll generally need to fill in a sickness form. Print out a copy and place it on your manager’s desk to show that you use your initiative – don’t wait for them to chase you to fill it out.
Having to call ahead or send an email notifying your manager you’re ill and unable to work today can be a nerve-wracking experience. And although you don’t want to let your team down, it’s important to take your sick leave when you need it and to fully recover. As long as you’re following protocol, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.
Have you recently used a sick day? If so, let us know how you notified your boss about your illness in the comments section below…