How to Write a Sick Day or Sick Leave Email to Your Boss (Plus 8 Samples)

It’s natural for anyone to feel under the weather once in a while. And when you do, you wouldn’t want to cause delays or problems for suddenly missing out on your tasks at work.

So in case you can’t make it, informing your boss as soon as possible will spare you and your workmates from having any trouble or delay.

To give you some ideas on how to properly write a sick day or sick leave email to your boss, we listed 13 professionals who shared helpful guidelines and sample templates you can follow.

Crystal Williams, MBA

Crystal Williams

Chief Career Transitionist, The You Brand Academy

It is always a good rule of thumb to let your co-workers and/or supervisor (Boss) or company leadership know that you will not be in the office or logged in on your laptop due to an illness.

As busy and ambitious professionals, you may feel guilty for taking a sick day, but if you are not in tip-top shape, what good are you to the clients you serve or projects you support? Rest is so important, especially when you’re sick and it’s the only way to fully recover from a cold.

When you take sick leave due to a cold, you’re not only doing yourself a favor but favor to your co-workers by not spreading your germs and getting them sick.

Do not overthink writing a great sick day or sick leave email to your boss

After all, you need to rest those brain muscles and make a swift recovery! With that being said, below are some steps to follow to make your sick day or sick leave email to your boss super simple.

Email greeting

Always begin your email with a greeting! If it’s a general email box meaning the email goes to multiple people begin with a generic greeting To whom it may concern:

If you are writing the email directly to a co-worker, supervisor, or company leadership beginning with a personal greeting using one of the following:

  • Hello (Name of person you are writing the email to),
  • Hi ((Name of person you are writing the email to),
  • Good Morning (Name of person you are writing the email to),
  • Good Day (Name of person you are writing the email to)

Email body

Proceed with the body of the email by further greeting the email recipient by using one of the following:

  • I hope this message finds you well and in great spirits.
  • I hope this message finds you well.
  • I hope all is well.

Get to the meat of the message in the email by using one of the following:

  • Today I will not be in the office due to a sudden illness.
  • Today I will not be in the office due to an illness.
  • Today I will not be in the office because I am not feeling well.
  • Unfortunately, I am not feeling well and will not be in the office today.
  • Unfortunately, I am not feeling well.

Proceed with the rest of the body of the email by using one of the following:

  • I hope to be in the office tomorrow, but I will keep you posted on my progress.
  • I plan to be in the office tomorrow, but I will keep you posted on my progress.
  • I plan to be in the office tomorrow; however, it depends on my condition. I’ll be sure to keep you posted
  • I plan to be in the office tomorrow; however, it depends on how I am feeling. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

Email closure

Proceed with the closure of the email by using one of the following:

  • Enjoy the rest of your day!
  • v/r, (very respectfully)
  • Respectfully,
  • Regards,
  • Kind Regards,

Proceed with adding your name to the end of the email; then you are all done!

Related: How to End a Professional Email

Now let’s put it ALL together by choosing an email greeting, body, and closure:

Good Morning (co-worker/supervisor or Boss name (ex.John Doe)),

I hope this message finds you well. Unfortunately, I am not feeling well and will not be in the office today. I plan to be in the office tomorrow, but I will keep you posted on my progress.

Kind Regards,

Jane Doe

Just like that, you have a quick and simple sick day or sick leave email to your boss!

Jill Santopietro Panall, SPHR, SHRM-SCP,

Jill Santopietro Panall

Owner & Chief Consultant, 21Oak HR Consulting

Sickness happens! You may pride yourself on never calling out sick, but you know that old saying that “pride goeth before a fall,” so it will eventually hit you! How your boss takes it tends to be a matter of how you communicate and how well you’ve planned ahead.

Check your employee handbook and/or ask your boss for your required form of a call-out

Some of my clients require phone calls only and won’t accept emails or texts, others allow any form of communication, but it’s important not to get yourself in trouble by using the wrong method of reporting. If you can report via email, notify the boss as soon as it’s practical to do so, before the start of your workday.

Out of human decency, do not get too far into details with your sick request

“I’m feeling really ill,” “I think I have the flu,” or “I’ve caught the stomach bug that’s running around the office” are all fine levels of detail. Beyond that, do not go there.

Employees who don’t want the boss to think they are faking illness (or some who are) will often overshare personal details in an attempt to prove they really need to be out. Stop. Reconsider. If you have something coming out of any part of you that’s not supposed to be, keep it to yourself.

Plan ahead

It’s really important to remember that while your boss cares about you being well, most bosses are, overall, highly focused on continuity, productivity, and the client experience. If your absence is going to cause any interruption to any of those areas, you want to make sure you’ve thought that through so you can pre-answer those concerns and leave the boss feeling comfortable with your plan.

That’s why it’s best to plan ahead so that you do not have to do any mental gymnastics with a 102-degree fever. Include those details in your email:

As you know, Jane is my backup for sick days, and I will notify her next that she is on tap for today. The Peterson report is on track, and I’ll have it for you when I’m back tomorrow

Side note: make sure you’ve had that conversation with Jane well ahead of time, and she’s amenable to either doing your work or directing people how to get help in your absence.

Reach out to HR for longer-term sick leave

When emailing to ask for a longer-term sick leave of five or more days, you may wish to reach out to HR (if you have HR) first to understand your company’s process. Take the initiative to find out whether your leave is covered by any paid or unpaid leave laws, such as the unpaid federal FMLA leave (which only pertains to employers with more than 50 employees). Similar paid-leave state laws include those now on the books in California and Rhode Island and coming soon to Massachusetts and other states.

Your HR department will also help you find out if you meet the criteria for each of these leaves and if you have any sick, vacation, or personal time available to compensate you for unpaid time. Once you know your basics, then go ahead and email your boss and start the request (and cc HR on the email so they can begin the process and the paperwork).

Long term sick leave should be carefully planned

More importantly than when on short-term leave, a long term sick leave should be as carefully planned as you can, given any time limitations and any health limitations you’re experiencing. Your boss will want to know approximately how long your doctor thinks you will be out, whether you can take on any work during your time away (and feel free to say no if that’s what your recuperation requires!) and what’s the plan to accomplish the task in your absence.

Even if you don’t have a fully fleshed-out plan, show that you’ve at least thought about those items before starting the request. Your likelihood of a successful leave hinges on your boss feeling like everything- and everyone- is going to be A-OK while you’re out.

James Norquay

James Norquay

Director of Content Marketing, Prosperity Media Group

Employees must act responsibly in sending in a sick day email as soon as possible. Replacements can be made, and meetings can be rescheduled with notice given before the time when you are already supposed to be at the office.

You do not have to say what exactly is wrong

However, you should inform your boss of how long you expect, you will be away, and if you are available to work from home or still answer emails depending on your type of illness. Be courteous and try to send some instructions to help out your team. Make sure to get a doctor’s certificate if you can, especially if it is more than one day of leave.

Here is a sample email:

Dear Mrs [ name ],
Unfortunately, I will not be able to make it into the office today as I am sick with a cold. I expect I will not be at work tomorrow either; however, I will update you later today. I can still reply to urgent emails periodically, but I will need to take the day off to rest.

I have let [name] know they need to reschedule today’s meeting and to look over [task due].

Sorry for the inconvenience, I will send through a doctor’s certificate if the illness is prolonged.

Best, [Name].

Nathan Grieve

Nathan Grieve

Founder, Project Hatch

Keep it short and simple

Rather than wasting time trying to make up an obviously made-up excuse, I prefer a simple ‘I’m sick today’ instead of a full-page story. When a member of the team is ill, we trust them enough to know that they are telling the truth. Keep your message or call short and simple. No-one wants to know the detailed ins-and-outs of your specific illness, and it’s not appropriate to share.

Go with:

Hi {{bosses name}},
I am feeling ill today, so I won’t be able to come in today. Sorry for the late notice.

This message explains that you will not be coming in at all that day and shows that you understand it can be frustrating that your team is going to be a person short without much notice. You do not need to overshare about the details of your illness, and it would only be relevant if your boss were also a close friend.

Indicate when you will be back

Providing an indication of when you will be back in work can be helpful too. If you have had flu all weekend and symptoms are starting to clear up on Monday, you can add that “I should be back in the office tomorrow, but will let you know for sure this evening/tomorrow morning.”

You will never be called out for letting your work know you are ill when you call or text in sick. If your workplace started to notice an abnormally high frequency of sick days without underlying medical issues, they would most likely schedule you in with HR when you are back in.

Just be honest, and your employer will be too. No-one likes to be ill, and your manager will understand when you are not feeling well. It is another area of business where mutual trust is important.

Katie Matthews

Katie Matthews

Editor, GreenActive Family

These days, the best companies know that productivity, output, and how much you move the needle of company success isn’t tied to the number of hours you spend at your desk. Compared to even ten years ago, I think there’s a lot more room for employees to take sick days for minor ailments. When it comes to major issues and diseases, any company worth working for will support their employees.

However, it’s also worth keeping in mind your boss’ needs and stressors when letting him or her know you need a day off. And that’s why I recommend getting organized at the first sign of illness, just in case you’re not able to make it into work.

If there’s a chance you won’t be feeling well enough to make it the next day, take the time to organize your work.

Make sure a colleague knows how to handle pressing matters that can’t wait a day or two. That way, when it comes to writing the email to your boss, you’ll be able to demonstrate you’ve considered his or her needs, and won’t be leaving the team in a tough spot.

As far as the actual email goes, keep it short and simple, and stick to the aspects that will affect the company.

Choose a clear subject line and to the point, such as “Sick Day – Staying Home Today” Keep the email to just a few short paragraphs.

Below is an example:

Hi [Boss’ Name],

Unfortunately, I’m under the weather today and am going to stay home to rest and recover.

I won’t be on email, but I briefed [name of colleague] on my current projects in case anything comes up.

Once I’m back in the office, I’ll double-check priorities to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. I hope to be back [tomorrow/by date] but will keep you in the loop.

Thanks for understanding and apologies to the team. I hope everyone else is feeling healthy.

All the best,

[Your Name]

William Wadsworth

William Wadsworth

Psychologist | Founder, Exam Study Expert | Author, Outsmart Your Exams

Writing is a big part of my day job as an author. As someone who has been on both sides of the sick note exchange as both a boss and an employee, I’ve become something of a go-to guy in my family whenever someone needs a sick note writing.

I recently helped a relative craft a “Level 2” sick note: this was a secondary note to put up a barrier to receiving further work requests. The relative in question had already followed normal company procedures and provided a basic sick note to explain why she wasn’t at work.

Still, her manager was sending a steady stream of email requests, which she was expected to field from home. She was in considerable discomfort and about to report to the hospital with what we later would learn was an infected kidney, so I was in no state to be working from home.

We drafted a note which politely explained her position:

I apologize, but I am not well enough to be able to carry on working from home and am about to go into hospital. Perhaps someone else in the team could cover for me while I am off work?

I would recommend accompanying a simple statement like this with any details your employer will need to pick up your work in your absence – for example, “my files are saved in such-and-such a folder on the company drive.” In my relative’s case, it did the trick! The requests stopped, and she was able to make a full recovery in peace.

Pratibha Vuppuluri
Chief Blogger, She Started It

Follow the company protocol

When writing a sick leave email to your boss, you must first and foremost make sure that you follow the company protocol. Each company has its respective protocol when filing sick leave. So, better familiarize yourself with that for future needs.

Send the email as early as you can

Then, you must send the email as early as you can, so necessary adjustments can be made if in case you were supposed to be needed in the office on that day.

Include the necessary details in your letter

Now, when writing the letter, make sure to include the reason for absence, and how long the absence will be. Make sure also to clarify whether you are available to work or not. Also, include the name of your colleague who will take over your work while you are on leave.

Here’s a sample letter for your reference:

Hi (Manager’s Name),

I am sending this email to inform you that I can’t make it to work today, (Date), because (the reason for absence). I am keeping my lines open if you need urgent help, but (Co-worker’s Name) will handle my workload for the meantime to ensure all deadlines are met.

Thank you for understanding,

(Your Name)

Nikola Djurkovic

Nikola Djurkovic

Editor in Chief, PolicyAdvice.net

We’re pretty liberal here in my company, and our employees are free to work from home if they feel they need to be alone or if they have to finish some personal chores. We tried to decrease sick leave abuse by introducing more flexibility into our office, and it seems like it works so far.

Our employees don’t have to lie anymore why they cannot come to work. However, they still have to send us an email, and this is how they do it:

Hello (name of the manager),

I’m unable to come to work today because (describe the symptoms briefly), but I think I will be able to come on (write the day of the week, how long you expect to be absent from work). I will (won’t) check my emails, but in case of an emergency, you can reach me out via (insert info where they can reach you).

During this time, I won’t (or will) be able to work. (Name of the person who can take your workload) I will be able to deal with my workload and make sure everything runs smoothly. (Add info about doctor’s note if needed).

Best,

(Name)

It’s essential that employees send the sick leave email as soon as they see they won’t be able to come to work.

Morgan Taylor

Morgan Taylor

Finance Expert & CMO, LetMeBank

Better to not come in if you’re sick, but writing that email to let everyone know can be daunting.

Include three important things, and you’ll be fine.

Why you’re not coming in

If it’s a serious cold, be honest about that and maybe also throw in that you don’t want to get anyone else sick. This shows that you’re considering the work environment, not just yourself.

Whether or not you can be reached while you’re out

In some cases, you may be well enough to work, but don’t want to spread around the cold. Or perhaps you can work remotely from the bed, just not the office. If this is the case, let your boss know. Otherwise, be clear that you won’t be available.

Who everyone can contact while you’re out

Work will likely still have to be done, and someone else will have to do it. Let whoever you’re emailing know that there’s a point person who will have the answers while you’re out.

Daniela Andreevska

Daniela Andreevska

Marketing Director, Mashvisor

The key to writing a good sick leave email to your boss is to be honest

You should remember that you are a human being, and not feeling well is only natural. In your email, you should definitely mention the general nature of your disease so that you sound credible. However, there is no need to go into excruciating detail about it. Don’t forget to note how long your sick leave will be.

You should also assure your boss that your work responsibilities will be taken care of, especially if you need to be absent for a longer period. For example, you might have made the necessary arrangements with a colleague to take over, or you can decide to continue working on the most pressing issues from home. Last, remember to thank your boss for understanding.

Datis Mohsenipour

Datis Mohsenipour

Director of Marketing, Outback Team Building & Training

Sick day

There shouldn’t really be a how-to guide for this, in my opinion. I don’t think you should go into details on why you are taking a sick day – there should be a strong level of trust between leaders and their employees. Unless I see patterns in an employee’s absenteeism, I trust that my team is being honest about having to take a sick day and don’t expect any explanation as to why they are taking it. A simple “I’m not feeling and well and would like to take a sick day today” email or text message will suffice for me.

Leave of absence

If the sick days stretch out past 3-5 days, then I think it’s important to be clear with your leader on why you will be absent and how long you anticipate being absent for. If it’s a private manner, you should inform HR and let your boss know that you’ve let HR know the details of your private matter but that you would prefer not to discuss it with your boss.

Joe Bailey

Joe Bailey

Business Development Consultant, MyTrading Skills

Be transparent

Be transparent as to why you will not be in for work, but do not go into too much detail about the sickness that is causing your absence.

Let them know when you will not be able to respond

Inform your employer about whether you will be able to respond to emails throughout the day. You can even go a step further and provide an emergency phone number if you will not be able to respond to emails.

Dana Case

Dana Case

Director of Operations, MyCorporation.com

There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to writing a sick day email to your boss. First, keep the email brief. Do not elaborate on how sick you are (no gross-out descriptions necessary). State that you are unable to come into work that day due to feeling under the weather.

You may mention that you will keep your boss posted about your condition as the day progresses, so they know whether or not you’ll be out for multiple days and can prepare accordingly. If possible, try to send this email out the night before or a few hours before you are due to arrive at work.