How To Write a Sick Day Email (With Tips and Examples)

Updated April 28, 2023

Sometimes employees get sick and need to take one or more days off from work to rest and recover. A sick day email is an effective option to let your employer know when you're unavailable to work. Understanding how to write a sick day email can help demonstrate your professional etiquette and impress your employer. In this article, we discuss why writing a sick day email is important, explore how to write a sick day email, and provide tips for sending a professional and effective one.

Why do you need to write a sick day email?

Writing a sick day email is a courtesy that shows respect for your employer and colleagues. A good sick day email shows you're accountable for your tasks and deadlines. By informing your employer about your absence through this email, you allow them adequate time to make impromptu arrangements. This ensures the company and your team can continue to be productive in your absence. Informing your employer beforehand also helps you avoid any form of penalty upon your return to work.

Related: 20 Best Practices for Professional Email Etiquette

How to write a sick day email

Follow these steps as you learn how to write a sick day email:

1. Start with your salutation

As with any other formal email, your salutation is important. It shows respect and knowledge of professional etiquette. The appropriate salutation depends on who you're addressing the email to and your familiarity with that person. For example, if you work with a small company where you're familiar with your employer, you can address them by their name. Similarly, in large companies where you only need to inform your supervisor, you can use their name if you're very familiar with them.

In contrast, some large companies require employees to inform the HR head, who you might not know well. In such cases, it's best to address them by their title or their last name to be formal.

Example: Dear Ben/Hello Mr. Whitlow/To the Head of Human Resources,

Related: 7 Best Email Greetings for All Situations

2. Include your condition and how long you need away from the office

This is the focus of your sick day email. If you have direct instructions from your doctor, it helps to include them in the mail to show authenticity. Minor health issues like a cold, stomach ache, or fever are also good reasons to take a day off from work. This is particularly important if your sickness is contagious. You can state your condition or mention that you're not feeling well if you prefer to keep this information private.

Ensure you include when they can expect you back at the office. This can be from your doctor's recommendations or your estimation of when you're likely to be healthy. Resting is important for productive work, so ensure you take the time you need to recover fully. Taking your time to rest also ensures you can stay healthier for longer periods.

Example: This is to inform you that I'm currently sick with the flu, and I'll be unable to come to work. My doctor recommended I take the rest of the week off to recover and avoid infecting others. You can expect me back at the office on Monday morning.

3. Suggest alternative working arrangements, if applicable

Some employers have arrangements to allow employees to work from home. If your condition isn't serious, you can mention that you can work from home. This can be particularly helpful if you have pending urgent tasks to complete. Sometimes, employers ask employees to take time off fully and recover. Remember that your day at home is your sick day, and there's no reason to overexert yourself if you can't work. Offer to work from home only if your health permits you.

Example: I'm well enough to work, but I want to remain at home so I don't give anyone else the flu. I can complete most of my tasks from home to ensure we stay on task.

4. Mention any urgent tasks you need help with completing

Keeping your employer or supervisor informed of your schedule is very important. If you have any time-sensitive tasks or pending deadlines, inform your employer about them in your email. You can request that they extend the deadline or transfer the task to another person. If you've already started the task, give your employer any information they need to complete the task effectively.

Example: I planned to receive some supplies from our vendors today and update our inventory. I've already updated the records of our current stock and processed the payment information for the vendors. It would be great if you could assist me with receiving the new supplies and updating our inventory records.

5. Suggest a colleague to take over your tasks

Finding a colleague to help with your work is great to assist your employer and shows accountability. It also allows you to pick the best person to help, based on your understanding of your task and colleagues. Most employers have an internal system in place to handle reassigning tasks in situations like this. You can leave them to decide on the best replacement, or highlight why your chosen helper is the best option. Ensure you seek permission from your colleague before suggesting that they help you. Also, give them all the necessary information to handle your tasks effectively.

Example: I've informed Dave about my sickness and asked him to help with some of my pending deadlines. Dave and I worked together on a similar project last month, so he's familiar with most of my unfinished tasks.

Related: Important Skills Every Good Writer Must Possess

Tips for writing a sick day email

Here are some tips to ensure your sick day email is clear and professional:

Be clear and concise

When writing a sick day email, write only what's essential. Ordinarily, the best practice is to state why you're ill and how long you expect to be away immediately after your greeting. Include only information your employer needs to know. Keeping your email brief makes it more believable and easier for your employer to read. While you need to be brief, ensure your email is clear. Vague statements like "I'm unavailable to come to work today" need more information to explain your intention to take a full sick day. Ensure your employer understands why you can't come to work.

Related: How To Call in Sick For Work Professionally

Include how your employer can reach you

Including contact information shows you're accountable and willing to make your absence as comfortable for your employer as possible. This can help convince your employer of the genuineness of your claims. Specify the means of communication that's most comfortable for you. If there are specific times you're available to receive messages, include that in the email. Ensure you're available to respond through the contact information you give your supervisor.

Be firm with your request

While your work is important, good health is your priority. When writing a sick email, the best approach is to inform your employer that you're unavailable to work. Asking if you can take a day off can give your employer the impression that your condition isn't serious, leading to declining your request. This can worsen your condition and put your colleagues at risk if you're contagious.

Related: The Best Ways To Start an Email for the Desired Response

Be proactive

Being proactive is a great way to demonstrate a good work ethic. It also shows you're concerned about the affairs of your company, which can impress your employer. Being proactive includes helping your colleagues plan what to do in your absence and ensure your time away doesn't affect your company. Informing colleagues, organizing your unfinished tasks, informing your employer in time, and giving detailed information on how your colleagues can assist you are all part of being proactive.

Be polite

Being polite shows your employer that you understand the inconvenience your absence can cause. Politeness is also an important part of professional etiquette. Remember to include the appropriate salutation for the email. Ensure your tone throughout your message is polite and friendly. Lastly, thank your manager or supervisor for their understanding and promise to resume as soon as you can.

Example of a sick day email

Here is an example of a sick day email you can use as a reference:

Hi Mary,

I'm emailing to inform you that I've caught the flu, and I have a terrible fever. My doctor recommends I stay away from work for a week to recover and reduce the risk of infecting my coworkers. I expect to be healthy and back at the office by next week Tuesday.

Pending that time, I'd appreciate it if you could get someone to cover my deadlines for this Thursday. I'm expecting two clients who want a one-on-one meeting about their investment portfolio. I've prepared a comprehensive report for both clients under the folder "Thursday investment" on my work computer. I need someone to go through the report and answer any questions the clients may have. I've spoken to Susan about it, and she's willing to help.

You can reach me via my work phone, preferably between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Also, kindly inform me if there's any other information you need. Thank you for your help and understanding.


Laura Fiore

The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.


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