Crafting a sick leave email can be difficult—especially if you’ve never written one before. And chances are you’re not feeling good while you’re writing it—that’s why you need a sick day. Even so, it’s important to use the correct format and business etiquette for sick leave emails. Knowing the details ahead of time, or having them close at hand, can make it easier to write one when you’re under the weather.
In this article, we’ll review key elements of a sick leave email. We’ll give helpful tips and some sick day email samples, and show how to effectively communicate with employers. By the end, you should have a better grasp of how to professionally write a sick leave email.
What to include
Different companies have various requirements and policies for requesting sick days. You may need to send the email an hour—or more—before your shift begins. If you’ll be out longer than 2 or 3 days, further requirements or documentation may be mandated.
There are important details you should always include—and things you shouldn’t. It’s a common temptation to over-explain or add too much detail. But that doesn’t help. So, let’s take a look at what should be in a sick day email.
State your reason for needing sick leave
Give a simple cause for your absence: flu, cold, food poisoning, injury. If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19, that may trigger mandatory leave timeframes—so review your company’s policies.
Include dates you’ll be away
Estimate the number of days you expect to be out. A flu or cold might run a week to 10 days. But a broken leg or severe illness likely requires longer absences to completely recover. It may be tricky, but give your best estimate.
Offer to provide assistance
Your office may need to contact you while you’re out. It’s professional courtesy to offer assistance—even if you’re unwell. State how you’ll communicate: email, phone, text, direct messaging. Let coworkers know when you’ll answer emails or messages: in an hour, a few hours, or daily.
Make sure your workload is covered
It’s your responsibility as a company employee to ensure current projects are addressed during sick leaves. If you know who the point person is to handle your workload, put their contact information in your email. If not, mention any outstanding, time-sensitive tasks needing attention and suggest temporary arrangements. You might offer to answer urgent emails.
Include a doctor’s note, if required
Some companies don’t require doctor’s notes for short-term sick leave or unpaid leave. Other businesses require doctor’s excuses for any paid sick leave—or paid leave over a few days. Indefinite leave usually requires a doctor’s excuse and other documentation. Contact your HR department to verify what’s needed.
Set a professional tone
Even though you may not be feeling so great, present a professional front to your colleagues.
Keep leave requests “business-professional”
Remember, these requests often become part of permanent work records. So, stick to the facts, and put in only the required details.
Be courteous to coworkers
Send your out-sick email as soon as you know you’ll be out. If you get the flu on Saturday, don’t wait till Monday to send a sick leave request. A timely notice helps your manager prepare for your absence and distribute tasks as needed.
Could you work remotely, and save sick leave for future needs? A broken leg might keep you from walking. But if your work involves only using a computer, your HR/manager might authorize remote work. However, make certain you can do the work properly. Suffering from the flu or being groggy from prescribed medications could lead you into mistakes.
Set an out-of-office message
Consider changing work email and voicemail systems to generate out-of-office replies. Direct callers to the proper contact person for assistance. And don’t forget to change replies when you return to work.
Handle further requests for information
- Know your rights. If during leave you’re not obligated or allowed to return messages or perform tasks, address it with your HR department.
- Follow company policy to the letter. Read company policies before taking leave. Know in advance what you must do and provide to cover absences.
- Consult a doctor if necessary. Further documentation may be needed for extended leave. Have a doctor advise you when you should return to work. Get that in writing, and file it with your HR.
Example sick leave emails
Basic email templates are easy to modify to your needs. Start emails with the subject line of “Sick Leave Request.” A simple template could be:
I’m sending you this email because I can’t come to work today due to (list the reason). I expect I’ll be out for (number of) days. Please let (coworker) know about (project/task) that’s due (when). I’ll try to answer any emails or calls within (timeframe).
Thank you for understanding,
Or you might use a sick email template like this for longer durations or more serious absences:
I’m sending you this email because I can’t come to work today. I went to the (doctor/ER/hospital) and they confirmed I have (illness).
The doctor prescribed (number of) days for (reason/recovery).
Please let (other colleagues) know about (pending tasks) due (when). I’ll try to answer any emails or calls within (timeframe).
Thank you for understanding,
Get well soon
Your absence affects other people at work, so it’s important to communicate properly when you know you will miss time. A concise, well-written sick leave email sets a professional tone and provides the information your company needs. For more career-related topics, check out the articles at Workest by Zenefits at https://www.zenefits.com/workest/.
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