Best reasons to call in sick (3 email templates included)

In this blog post, we will tell you what are the best reasons to call in sick. We will argue why it is crucial to stay at home while sick and give you three examples of how to write a sick leave email.

The best reasons to call in sick

Here is a list of the best reasons to call in sick: 

  1. You have a contagious illness (COVID-19, CRE, Ebola, Enterovirus D68, or the flu).
  2. Because of an injury or illness that negatively impacts productivity (you hurt your back, twisted your ankle or broke an arm).
  3. You have a medical appointment (either a doctor’s appointment or medical investigations appointment).
  4. You have a diagnosed medical condition (Alzheimer’s Disease, arthritis, asthma, cancer, COPD, diabetes, etc.).
  5. You have been hospitalized (either because of an emergency or a planned procedure).
  6. Pregnancy or delivery (this is a medical emergency).
  7. You are taking a mental health day (which is also a personal reason and you do not have to disclose your diagnosis to HR if you don’t want to).

3 reasons why you shouldn’t go to work when you’re sick

Missing work is something that many employees are reluctant to do, especially when the reason for their absence is due to minor illnesses. These workers are reluctant to allow themselves a few days of inactivity and that is essential for a proper recovery of health.

Some of the reasons for these attitudes are to be found in the high demands that the labour market has begun to set in terms of productivity levels. Given the pressure, employees decide to postpone their days off, vacation days or hours of rest in favour of meeting the objectives of the day set by their companies. 

An answer that is not exclusive to a company’s workforce base. Branch managers and higher-ups also often relegate their well-being in order to monitor and accomplish designated tasks.

However, an article published in Forbes recommends not working when you are ill or suffering from symptoms of stress or acute post-holiday depression, for three reasons:

  1. The contagion. In the case of a cold or flu-like illness, the fact of going to the office can cause that isolated outbreak to spread to other colleagues in the company. 

In fact, there are already companies that have imposed guidelines to isolate these cases or, simply, send the affected worker home. And it is always better to deal with an empty position than with ten.

In addition, action protocols can always be established in these cases of absence. Determine which teams will be in charge of certain tasks, hold an emergency planning meeting to coordinate those tasks that remain to be completed or, simply, and depending on the degree of discomfort of the person, indicate that they can carry out the pending work from home.

  1.  High probability of error. When a person is not feeling well, the mind slows down and he may be susceptible to making mistakes that he would not otherwise make. 

Therefore, it is preferable to lose a day or two of work to allow your body to recover, than to work every day at 50%. In addition, despite the fact that with the ingestion of medications, the symptoms tend to remit, cognitive-motor skills can continue to be affected, so work can become slower, heavier and ineffective.

Employees with a cold or flu can usually stay home, drink fluids, and return to work when they are healthy. However, if it is a chronic disease, such as allergies, back pain or depression, the situation is complicated. 

For this reason, it is important to work with the company’s human resources staff to find, together, a solution that benefits both parties, such as sporadic teleworking when symptoms or pain are acute.

  1. Extension of convalescence time. Not allowing the body to recover 100% in favour of the completion of pending tasks, can lead to an increase in the days when the person is not well or a frequent relapse of the same disease. 

Again, it is preferable not to have a person for a few days, rather than having a person working at a medium performance or having to be absent from work frequently because, instead of taking a week off, he took only one day and ended up missing days interspersed in the same week.

In addition, these inconstant imbalances cause the departments that cover this absence to be organizing and disorganizing from time to time, ultimately falling into the chaos that can suffer results and work productivity.

On the other hand, it is necessary to give real importance to the fact that a worker is stressed since it has been shown that it can affect their immune system and make the person sick. To solve it, you must enjoy times of leisure, rest and disconnection. A healthy diet, daily exercise and socializing outside of work time are other activities that strengthen people’s health.

What your sick day email should include

If writing a sick day email, which we always recommend, it should include the following points:

Reason for your absence. Keep this part clear without going into too much detail. Write down the specific illness and main symptoms that are preventing you from getting to the office. You don’t have to list everything.

How long you will be absent from work. This is predictable for many illnesses, like the flu or a cold, where the worst is over in a day or two. If you are not sure when you will be back, ask your doctor how much you could possibly recover.

Address your availability to communicate. Inform your boss if you can answer questions by email. You can also include an emergency phone number in case they need to reach you. If you are too sick to reply to emails, be honest and clarify that you will be unreachable during your absence.

Clarify whether you will work or not. This applies to telecommuting, remote, or high-level employees expected to continue working while on leave. Your supervisor may allow you to work if you are contagious, but not too bad for complete rest.

Doctor’s note and other documentation. Citation to any doctor’s note, prescription, or medical certificate that you can provide to the back of your request for sick leave.

Name of the person who can take up your workload. Mention that you will have about your projects and meetings, so your manager will know what to approach questions about your tasks. You can simply write, “John will take my client meetings this afternoon, and he is also up to date on my projects with Client X”.

Professional closing. End your email of the day with a simple closing and your name.

You can also email your team an abbreviated version of this email that does not include details of your medical condition and doctor.

Sick leave email templates

These are different templates for you to email in sick, depending on your circumstances:

  1. Simple Sick Day Email Sample

Use this template when you will only be away for one day. It is short and does not include many details, because an absence of one day does not need five paragraphs to explain.

Hello (Manager’s name),

I am sending an email to inform you that I cannot go to work today, (date), as I have come with (your illness). I will be available to respond to emails if you need urgent help, but (name of colleague) will handle my workload today to ensure all deadlines are met.

Thanks for understanding,

(Your name)”

The phrase “urgent help” is to suggest that you not check and reply to emails all day. Think of it as a subtle way of saying that you need time to rest, but also your obligations and will be available to intervene if a situation arises that could only be fixed. Remove the phrase “urgent help” if you are going to respond as you would on a normal day at the office.

  1. Sick Day Sample Email with Paid Leave Request

Use this template if you have a doctor’s note and if you plan to use your sick leave to cover the absence.

“Dear (Name of your Administrator),

You will not be able to report to work today because I am on time and have (symptoms you are experiencing). I went to the ER department last night and the doctor confirmed that I have (a medical diagnosis).

The doctor prescribed (X workdays)  to (need to rest, being contagious), so I asked (name of partner) to take over my meeting with (name of client) this afternoon. It is also handled by my to-dos while I am away. I will be available via email for your urgent needs.

I have also attached the doctor’s note to this email. I would appreciate it if you would send this email with the attachment to HR so you can process my sick leave. Thanks for your help.


(Your name)”

Remove the phrase about going to the emergency room if you don’t, or just put it in “visited the doctor” if you went to the doctor after you got home from work.

Note that Federal Law in the United States does not require companies to offer a paid sick leave according to the Department of Labor. Other countries may have their own employment laws regarding sick leave. Please review your employment contract before using this template.

Human Resources (HR) is not always responsible for approving sick sheets. Sometimes your manager has the last word, so you can modify that part of the template according to policy.

  1. Sick Email Template for Indefinite Leave

Use this template if you are unsure of when you can report to work.

Dear (Manager’s name),

I am writing this to let you know that I cannot go to the office today. I have been feeling (sick, headache, etc.) since (last night, yesterday, etc.) and only saw a doctor yesterday.

I was diagnosed with (his illness) and prescribed medication that will last for (X days). I feel a little better that the first dose of the medication has taken effect, but I was advised to stay home because it will take time to fully recover.

I’ll do my best to let you know if I can’t get it to work tomorrow, so we can make some temporary fixes for my workload. Meanwhile, (colleague’s name) has agreed to take care of my assignments for the day. 


(Your name)”

Final thoughts

Calling to report that one is sick is one of the most used excuses by workers, whether or not they are sick. Most employers prefer that sick staff stay home so they don’t infect others, but if you miss working for several days due to illness or injury, you may need a doctor’s statement. 

In some cases, employers allow a certain number of sick days per year that the employee can take.   

If you have any comments or questions on the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Best reasons to call in sick

What’s the best excuse to miss work?

Among the best excuses to miss work are:

  • You have a contagious illness;
  • Food poisoning;
  • Family emergency;
  • Medical appointments;
  • Vehicle or transport issues;
  • Death in the family;
  • Your pet is lost or you need to take it to the vet. 

How do you call in sick to work professionally?

If you have to call in sick to work, to do it professionally keep it as brief as possible and call as soon as you can. Let your team know that you will be missing work and make arrangements who can take over your workload. Mention the period you will be missing and when are you planning on coming back. 

What is the best excuse to call in sick?

The best excuses to call in sick are:

  • You have the flu or other contagious illness. 
  • You hurt your back, ankle or knee.
  • You have been hospitalized.
  • The emergency doctor or dentist’s appointment.
  • You are depressed, stressed or anxious. 

How do I take leave for personal reasons?

To take leave for personal reasons you have to ring your employer or talk with HR and let them know how much time you need and when you plan to return to work. Some employers offer a certain number of days for personal leave per year. Avail of those if included in the contract!


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