How to call in sick when you just need a day off

Calling in sick to work makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Many worry that they’re not truly sick enough to warrant a day off, or that their boss will think they’re just trying to play hooky.

Public opinion about calling in sick changed rapidly in 2020, and it’s unlikely that this new perspective will change any time soon. If there’s any possibility you’re contagious, there’s just no point coming into the office — especially if parts of your job can be done from home.

While more employers than ever recognize the validity and importance of mental health days to keep employees fresh and happy, calling in sick is often the simpler and more straightforward option.

With that in mind, this article will cover how to call in sick to work when you’re genuinely sick, and when you’d rather use sickness as a convenient excuse for a day off.

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five most in demand jobs right now:

How To Call in Sick

When calling in sick, it’s important to remember that your work for the day doesn’t just disappear because you can’t do it.

Either you have to push it back a day, or someone else has to do it, or (worst of all, from your employer’s perspective) the work just doesn’t get done that day and can’t be made up by anyone else.

It’s not your fault that you were or are sick, but it’s always possible that your absence will nevertheless have a negative effect on someone you work with, depending on the nature of your work.

For this reason, there are a few things you should do when you call in sick to make sure you’re being conscientious of your boss and your coworkers:

Choose the right person to tell. While employee handbooks and corporate policy documents can probably give you a precise answer, there’s probably no need to go digging through all that literature. For most jobs at most companies, telling your supervisor that you’ll be out is the right choice.

Some companies might also have online portals where you log your sick day requests for admin purposes. If you’re not sure if this is necessary for you because it’s your first time asking for a sick day, simply include it in your call/email to your supervisor. Something like “is there anything else I need to do on my end to log this sick day with HR?” will do.

Let them know as soon as possible. If you wake up feeling bad, then email, call, or send a Slack message (however your work tends to communicate) the very moment you realize you shouldn’t come to work. If you’re feeling bad the day before, give your boss a heads-up and let them know about the possibility of you missing work the next day.

Alert your team as well. Your boss isn’t the only one who will be affected by your absence. Being a good employee also involves letting your teammates that you’re gone for the day — especially important for jobs with a lot of group projects and collaborative efforts.

Offer to make up the lost work however you can. If you’re well enough and the work can be done remotely, offer to work from home. Otherwise, make sure that there’s some sort of plan in place for the work getting done either later on or else by someone else.

Follow up. If you need to provide proof of your absence, be sure to do so. However, if you’re just taking a mental health day, don’t use a doctor-note-worthy sickness as your excuse, or you’ll dig yourself into a hole.

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It all starts innocently enough—first a sniffle, then a tickle in your throat, then before you know it, you’ve been knocked out by whatever nasty bug happens to be making the office circuit. But, while your body may be begging you to stay home, those piles of work on your desk (and maybe even your boss) are suggesting otherwise.

So, what do you do? Should you load up on whatever non-drowsy cold medicine is rolling around in the dark recesses of your junk drawer and suck it up, or keep your germs at home and let the bug take its course, sparing your colleagues the same fate?

Taking time off is tricky business, especially when it’s an unplanned day like a sick day. While there’s no guarantee you’ll convince your boss and colleagues you’re better off at home, there are a few things you can do to help minimize the blowback the next time you’re feeling lousy.

Know the Rules (Hint: They’re Not in the Employee Handbook)

I’m willing to bet most of us with a standard 9-to-5 have sick days or personal time off as a part of our benefits package.

And, while technically, sure, you’re allowed to use those days, actually taking them is often strongly discouraged by managers, either explicitly (“I can’t believe Susan is taking another sick day”), or implicitly (no one has called in sick since the days of H1N1). On the other hand, let’s be honest: No one wants to get what you have.

Here’s how to get around this Catch 22: Before you come down with something this season, pay close attention to how your team reacts to others when they call in sick. Does your boss immediately start bad-mouthing someone as soon as she finds out he or she is staying home? Does she make comments about so-and-so always being out sick?

And, what’s her notification preference? Some bosses (myself included) find it unprofessional for employees to send an email without a follow-up phone call, while others prefer sticking to email in order to avoid a Ferris Bueller-like performance over the phone. (Trust me, even if you really are sick, it always sounds a bit staged.)

Take note of what’s earned one colleague sympathetic get well wishes and another snide remarks, and you’ll be better prepared to approach your boss when you need a few days in bed.

Take Your Team’s Temperature

When you’re sick, you know it. But while you may feel like crap (and think you look as bad as you feel), your colleagues probably won’t realize it—and may be blindsided when you need to take a day off.

Dropping little hints as soon as you start feeling something coming on is a great way to test their reactions. A casual comment that you’re feeling a bit run-down is a good start.

See how your team responds—are they sympathetic, or do they start freaking out because you all have a deadline in a few days?

Make no mistake, I’m not suggesting their reaction should deter you from staying or going home, but knowing how they’ll respond when you pack it in will help you better prepare for your absence—not to mention give them a little advanced warning, too.

Keep in mind, though, you can overdo this pretty easily. We’ve all had that colleague who’s always sick, getting sick, or paranoid about getting sick. No one likes to hear someone complain all the time—and if you do, the chances of anyone taking you seriously when you really are under the weather are nil.

Make it Easy

While you can’t control how your team will react to your absence, you can control the condition your outstanding work is in before you leave. Of course, getting sick rarely happens on a neat schedule—and that means you essentially always need to be prepared for the “hit by a bus” scenario.

I’ve worked for both large and small companies, but each role has had its own unique quirks that only I knew how to handle, which meant I always had to be prepared for the unlikely event I was hit by a bus (or, er, got the flu).

To do this, I’ve always kept a list of tasks that required more of my time, caused me more grief, or elicited a few more colorful words than my regular duties, and complied detailed instructions on how to handle such situations. I keep these printed out and clearly labeled in a binder on my desk, visible to everyone, and have a version saved in a shared folder everyone can access.

Keep the binder and folder updated, and make sure your team knows it exists. Then, if you do have to hide under the covers for a few days, you’ll know your team won’t have to pull their hair out trying to figure out how to run that complicated report that drove you to drink before you figured out how to do it. Prepare well in advance and keep your work organized, and you’ll take the sting out of covering for you while you’re recuperating.

Lastly, and most importantly, once you’ve prepared for a few days of recovery out of the office, it’s time to unplug and focus on getting better. The best thing you can do for your team is get back to your rock star self as soon as possible. Don’t you feel better already?

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

So you have to call in sick from work, but how do you do it? When you’re under the weather, it’s likely the last thing you want to contemplate ‒ but they are right ways and wrong ways to go about it. Read on as we dissect how best to notify your employer of ill health and that you should stay home.

Don’t be afraid to make the call

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that you mustn’t feel guilty about not feeling well and taking a sick day; we all get sick now and again, regardless of rank or role. If you know that your ability to work will be hampered by illness, or that you might pass something onto colleagues and co-workers, have no hesitation in calling in sick.

Contact the correct person

Every company operates differently when it comes to sick days, so making sure you get in touch with the correct person as soon as possible is critical. If you aren’t familiar with your employer’s protocols, reference the employee handbook or ask a colleague for advice. If they aren’t too sure either, your best bet is your immediate superior, whether that’s a shift leader, supervisor or line manager.

Use the right communication method

Once you’ve decided who you’ll contact, your next question is how to do so. You’ve got three real options ‒ phone, email and text ‒ and each one has pros and cons.

A phone call, the traditional method, adds a personal touch and a sense of sincerity, so it is a good option if there’s a trust gap that needs to be bridged. There is a risk, however, of getting sucked into a lengthier conversation than you bargained for, which isn’t ideal when your main priority should be rest.

Given that, a text message might seem appealing. It’s certainly an easier option than picking up the phone, but it could be construed as overly personal and unprofessional. Unless you’re on particularly good terms with your boss, it’s probably best to rule it out.

That leaves email. This is the safest choice for sick-day correspondence. You can send it in at any time, keep it concise as you like and have no fear of being seen as unprofessional.

What should you say when you call in sick?

When it comes to calling in sick, brevity is the name of the game. In no more than one or two sentences, let them know that you’re too unwell to come to work, touching only briefly on what illness or condition you’re suffering from.

Avoid overdramatised language at all costs, as it’ll only cast doubt on the authenticity of what you’re saying. Instead, if you feel the message is a little too terse, add a line thanking your boss for their understanding and express an eagerness to get back to work as soon as you’re fit and well.

Taking time off for your mental health

Mental illnesses like stress, anxiety and depression are on a par with physical ailments, which means you have as much of a right to take time off and get out of work if you develop symptoms.

Calling in sick in these cases can pose more of a personal dilemma, as speaking about a mental health condition can be challenging. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to keep your message concise; simply state that you need to take a little time for your mental health, or that you’ve been suffering from stress and need some rest.

What to say if you need to care for a sick person

In the UK, you have a right to take time off work to care for an unwell dependent ‒ this is widely known as ‘compassionate leave’. Your employer isn’t obligated to offer any pay during this period though.

Notifying your boss as soon as possible that you really need time off to look after sick family members is much the same as doing so for yourself: a brief, informative note that lays out the facts without going into too much detail.

Trying to pull a sickie?

Whether it’s an interview for a new job or a social engagement you couldn’t get out of, sometimes you find yourself needing to free up a bit of time with a less-than-truthful sick day call. This is generally not recommended, but employees have been known to do it nonetheless.

If this is the case for you and you are not actually sick, fight the urge to spin your boss or employer an elaborate yarn, as you’ll only find yourself tripping over the details at a later date. Instead, go with something simple and tricky to disprove, such as a stomach bug or bad cold. And a word of warning: Don’t be posting upbeat pictures on social media, as those can expose you quickly!

Call in sick at work example email:

To: [email protected]

From: [email protected]

Subject: Unwell Today

I have woken up with a high fever and cough this morning, so I’ll have to take a sick day.

I will keep you posted on my recovery. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

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No matter how well you take care of yourself there will be days when you feel so ill that you can’t drag yourself from your bed. Rest and care are the best ways to recuperate. Forcing yourself to continue to work while ill will only delay your recovery.

When you’re not well enough to work you’ll have to call in sick, but this can be scary even if you get on well with your boss. There’s always that nagging doubt in the back of your mind of will ‘they believe me, or, do they think I’m pulling a sickie?’

In this guide, we cover when the best time to call in sick is, how to call in sick professionally along with examples of what to say and we also cover your rights when off sick.

When is the right time to call in sick?

It’s always best to let your employer know as soon as possible that you’re not well and won’t be working that day. You could do this the night before work or in the morning. This gives your boss adequate time to reschedule your diary and to reallocate tasks to your colleagues.

How to call in sick professionally

Whether it’s a bad cold or a tummy bug, no matter how ill you feel you must muster up the energy to inform your employer that you won’t be working that day or consecutive days. Failing to do so could be breaking the terms of your employment contract. Also, in your contract, it may state how you have to inform your employer of your illness. It could be by email, call or text.

The key to calling in sick is to keep the reason to the point – you don’t need to mention every symptom of your illness, and we’re sure your boss doesn’t want to hear it either. If you’re leading a team or are working on a team project, out of courtesy let them know as well. If you’re up to responding to urgent emails or calls, let your boss/team know this as well.

So, you get it right, here are some examples you could use in different scenarios:

Calling, emailing or texting in sick

“Dear Ben,

I’m unable to come into work today because I’ve developed a high temperature and a headache. I hope this will improve by tomorrow. I’ll respond to urgent emails when I can but I’ve asked Clare to be my back-up for today.

Regards,

Daniella”

Attending a doctor’s appointment

“Dear Ben,

Overnight I’ve developed a rash. I’m worried that it may be contagious. I’ve arranged a doctor’s appointment for later today and will inform you ASAP of what they say. In the meantime, I’ll try to respond to urgent calls / emails when I can.

Regards,

Daniella”

Calling in sick when you’ve just started a new job

“Dear Ben,

I’m afraid I’ve taken ill overnight and I won’t be able to attend work today. I’ve informed my training manager and my colleagues. I’m hoping to feel better tomorrow so I can attend work and continue with the training you’re generously providing me.

Regards,

Daniella”

Calling in sick when you have to give a presentation

“Dear Ben,

Unfortunately, I’ve come down with a heavy cold and I won’t be able to present at the meeting today. I’ve spoken with Clare and she’s agreed to speak for me. I’ve briefed her on what to say and I’ve sent over my speech notes and other documents.

I’ll be available to answer urgent calls or emails relating to the presentation during the day.

Regards,

Daniella”

Whatever the scenario, have what you’re going to say planned out before you make contact and avoid saying things like; I felt like a day off so I won’t be in today, I had a late night last night and I’ve overslept or I have a hangover and I don’t feel my best.

These may seem like silly excuses, but some people have used them!

Calling in sick when working remotely

Global circumstances mean that more and more people are now working from home. In fact, some figures suggest that it could be as high as 30% of adults are now solely home-based.

As you’re working from the comfort of your home, you may feel less inclined to call in sick, even if you don’t feel good. But, doing this could make your illness worse and cause you to take more days off work.

The process for calling in sick is the same for someone who is office-based or remote; let your boss know by the time outlined in your contract and using their preferred method and if you can, provide details of any urgent tasks that could be managed by your colleagues. Most importantly though, rest so you can get better.

What are your rights to sick pay?

Each company has its own stance on offering company sick pay, and if you’re entitled to it, it will be detailed in your employment contract.

You may also be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £95.85 per week – this in addition to your company sick pay. SSP is generally limited to 28 weeks in a three year period. To make a claim for SSP, you must:

  • Be sick for four consecutive days (this includes Sunday and holidays)
  • Have notified your employer within their set time period, or within seven days if they don’t have one
  • Be able to supply evidence that you’re not able to work, such as a doctor’s certificate
  • Earn at least £120 gross per week

There are other aspects involved in claiming SSP including people who are exempt from claiming it. You can get further information on the .gov website.

You’re sick. Stay home from work. We’ve written the sick day email template you need for you.

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

How to Write a Sick Day Email in 5 Steps

1. Check Your Company’s Protocol Around Sick Days

2. Write a Straightforward Email Subject Line

3. Let Them Know How Available You’ll Be

4. Say Whether It’s Paid or Unpaid

5. Give Clear “Next Steps” on Whatever You’re Working On

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

A Sick Day Template

Hi [Your Boss’s Name],

Due to a personal illness, I’m going to take a paid sick day today. I plan on checking my email periodically throughout the day but will let you know if my condition worsens and I need to go fully offline. I am going to email [Name of Colleague] to ask her to run the morning check-in meeting I scheduled with the team [or whatever else she needs to help cover].

Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope to be back in the office tomorrow!

Hi [Your Boss’s Name],

I woke up with a high fever and will be taking a paid sick day to rest and protect my fellow employees.

I’ve gone ahead and created an out-of-message so any urgent emails will get filtered to the correct coworkers, and I’ve cc’d human resources on this email per the instructions in our employee handbook.

I appreciate your understanding, and I hope to feel better soon!

Hi [Your Boss’s Name],

Unfortunately, I’ve woken up sick and will be taking the day to rest and recover. I’ll work as I am able; however, I’ve asked [Name of Colleague] to be the point person for today’s department meeting since she’s updated on our current projects.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and I hope to be back in the office tomorrow.

When to Call in Sick

How to Write a Sick Day Out-Of-Office Message + Email Examples

Thanks for your message. I’m out of the office sick today and I won’t be checking email while I rest and recover from the flu. I hope to return on [DATE].

In my absence, please contact [NAME + EMAIL]. If this is urgent, you can text me at [PHONE NUMBER].

Thanks for your message. I’m out of the office sick today. I will plan to respond to your email and/or phone calls upon my return. In the meantime, you can contact [NAME + EMAIL] if this is urgent.

Additional Sick Day Email Examples

If You Don’t Have Any Sick Days

Hi [Your Boss’s Name],

Unfortunately, I woke up feeling too sick to come into the office today. I plan on taking an unpaid day off to rest up and get better. I will check my email periodically in case any questions come up for you or the team.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope to be back in the office tomorrow!

If You Feel Sick But Would Prefer to Work Remotely

Hi [Your Boss’s Name],

Unfortunately, I woke up feeling ill and am concerned that if I come into the office, I might get someone sick. I think it’s best that I not come into the office today. That said, I can work from home on the projects I have going and respond via email and Slack to any questions the team has. Does that work for you?

If all goes well, I hope to be in the office tomorrow!

If You Need a Mental Health Day (Which Qualifies as a Sick Day, Everyone!)

Hi [Your Boss’ Name],

Unfortunately, I need to take a sick day today. I will try to check my email this morning and again before EOD, but will probably need to spend the day resting up [if you’re taking a mental health day, you need to actually give your work mind a break!]. Would you like me to put up an out-of-office message?

I’m not working on anything that needs to be finished before tomorrow, so I’ll hopefully get back on track first thing tomorrow morning.

Being sick sucks, but calling in sick can be even harder. However, we are only human, and it’s normal to feel under the weather. Here we discuss some tips for how to phone in sick, what are your rights and the one dread on everyone’s mind: can you get fired?

When to call in sick?

Wondering when the right time to call in sick can be a little tricky. If you wake up with a slight headache or a runny nose, you can attempt to go into work with the hope the symptoms will soften up throughout the day.

However, if you work in an environment where sanitation is vital, such as working in a hospital or school, then it is best to stay at home (you don’t want to be patient zero!)

If you work in an office, then co-workers may not appreciate you coughing all over their keyboard. Therefore, a good alternative would be to work from home instead.

Nonetheless, it always boils down to how you feel. If going to work will significantly impact on your performance, others and subsequently make you feel worse; phoning in sick will give you time to recover.

So you decided to phone in sick, which brings us onto our next section.

What happens if you take off more than one day?

7 days or less

If you are ill for 7 days or less, then it is not required to provide a doctor’s note to an employer. Instead, there is a self-certification whereby you sit down with your employer, sign a form and email off details regarding your sickness.

7 days or more

If you are sick for more than 7 days, then you will need to provide your employer with a doctor’s ‘fit note’, (also known as a doctor’s note). The 7 days and over includes weekends and bank holidays too.

Doctor’s note can be requested for free if the employee has been sick for more than 7 days; otherwise, they may charge a small fee if it is less.

If you are ill for 7 days or less, then it is not required to provide a doctor’s note to an employer. Instead, there is a self-certification whereby you sit down with your employer, sign a form and email off details regarding your sickness.

What Happens When You Have A Long-term sickness?

Employees who are off work sick for more than 4 weeks may be considered long-term sick. A long-term sick employee is still entitled to annual leave.

You can be dismissed if you have a persistent or long-term illness that makes it impossible for you to do your job.

Before taking any action, your employer should:

  • look for ways to support you – eg considering whether the job itself is making you sick and needs changing.
  • give you reasonable time to recover from your illness.

If you have a disability (which may include long-term illness), your employer has a legal duty to support disability in the workplace.

Dismissal because of a disability is unlawful discrimination.

How To Call In Sick?

Sick policies are often laid out in your employment contract. Most commonly, a manager will need to be notified at least thirty minutes before your shift starts. But don’t worry, knowing how to call in sick isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

Firstly, do you call, email or text? This depends on a few factors.

  • Feeling sick the night before work and have a gut feeling that it won’t get better? (pun unintended) Best to send an email. If you’re unsure what to write, we have email script examples here.
  • Follow what has been disclosed in your contract. Companies may specify you can only phone to notify a colleague. Otherwise, most prefer an email as this does not disrupt their working day.

OK, that’s cool, what else should I know?

  • Keep it brief. No one wants to know the extent of your stomach bug and how many times you have been to the toilet.
  • Are you scared of going hungover to work? Unfortunately, being a young student, if you are going to call in sick over the weekend most likely the assumption is: you’re too hungover.

If this is the case, before alerting your manager, try and get somebody to cover your shift. This softens the blow of you not turning up to work on an undoubtedly busy day.

Don’t over dramatise your sickness. Coughing down the phone or giving the false pretence you are dying will only give your manager more cause to disbelieve you.

Finally, knowing who to contact when calling in sick is crucial too.

You may feel more comfortable telling a close co-worker instead of a manager, but unfortunately, that’ll annoy them even more. Know your point of contact from day one, and this could be one of the following:

  • Supervisor
  • Team Leader
  • Manager
  • HR Assistant

What To Say When Calling In Sick?

This is not to advocate fake calling in sick; however, for a seamless conversation over the phone below is a concise and effective script to help with you phoning in sick.

You: “Hello [name], I’m phoning up to say I woke up feeling pretty badly today. I think I am coming down with a fever and moving around makes it feel worse. I have already booked a doctors appointment as I’m unaware if it is contagious or not. I should take the day off so I can rest and hopefully can come back tomorrow. I will answer emails from home and will rearrange any meetings for a later date. Thank you for your understanding.”

Can you get fired for calling in sick?

If your employer believes you are fake calling in sick, then they will hold a return to a work meeting and discuss the possibilities. If so, disciplinary action will follow.

Also, if you are phoning in sick to attend a second job, then that is known as gross-misconduct and can lead to a fair dismissal.

In essence, if you are suffering from long-term sickness and your employer has done everything they can to support you and give you enough time to recover, then they can dismiss you fairly.

If the company does not follow this procedure, then it can be unlawful discrimination against disability.

Nonetheless, if you are phoning in sick and they fire you immediately, then you may be eligible to make a claim against them in a court or tribunal.

You can be dismissed if you have a persistent or long-term illness that makes it impossible for you to do your job.

Before taking any action, your employer should:

  • look for ways to support you – eg considering whether the job itself is making you sick and needs changing.
  • give you reasonable time to recover from your illness.

If you have a disability (which may include long-term illness), your employer has a legal duty to support disability in the workplace.

Dismissal because of a disability may be unlawful discrimination.

You will need to figure out if your long term illness isn’t caused by burnout and stress. Because if it is, there could be a chance to address this appropriately and to make a positive change in your life.

If a prolonged sickness is causing you issues, maybe it’s time to look for a flexible part-time job, instead? Register and upload your CV for free on StudentJob.

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How to call in sick when you just need a day off

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Duvet day, anyone?

If you called work to say you’re ill this morning when you’re actually fine, you are officially pulling a sickie. And according to a new BBC survey, that’s not uncommon in Brits at all. Oops.

The survey shows that up to 40 per cent of workers in Britain would, erm, claim a duvet day if they wanted a break. That’s two in five adults. The UK-wide survey questioned 3,655 adults aged over 16, and found the most common reasons for calling off work in 2018 were the common cold, musculoskeletal problems (like back pain), mental health conditions and ‘other’ problems. Perhaps unsurprisingly, sickness due to not being truthful was not included in the government’s statistics.

The average worker takes about four sick days a year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Chris Southworth, Secretary General of the International Chambers of Commerce, told the BBC, ‘What this points to is the importance of trust within business to promote a positive, healthy place to work, and how that has a positive impact on people’s wellbeing. Good, responsible businesses are those that are well led, they promote good values and ethical behaviour.’

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As well as faking sickies, employees are often also prepared to cover for colleagues who they know might be faking it. The survey found that 66 per cent would not tell bosses if they knew their colleagues were absent, but not ill.

Hayley Lewis, an occupational psychologist, said if the relationship between bossa and employee is bad, staff will tend to be less truthful. She expanded, ‘People don’t leave an organisation – they leave their boss – goes the saying. Also, people can be influenced by their boss’ behaviour.’

She added, ‘We look to role models. If the boss is dragging themselves in, not taking breaks, eating lunch at their desk, it reinforces the message that it is not okay to take a break.’

Interestingly, one question put in the survey was, ‘would you take praise from a boss for work that somebody else has done?’ The answer: men are twice as likely as women to accept that praise. Shocking, we know.

And while younger staff lied more often than their elders, they were also more willing to stand up for colleagues.The younger the employee, the more likely they were to speak up for women in the workplace, for example by intervening if they saw a male boss touch a female employee on the back during a meeting. 70 per cent of younger adults would report or intervene if a senior figure in a company made sexual comments towards a younger colleague, less than half of people over 55 would do the same.

Finally, the study revealed that UK employees work longer hours than our EU counterparts like Ireland or Norway, but they are not as productive. And we leave you with this: almost a third said they stole work supplies like staplers and notebooks. Guilty. As. Charged.

Calling (or, really, emailing) out of work can feel uncomfortable. You likely worry that your boss will fire you for daring to come down with the flu or having the audacity to contract a stomach bug that prohibits you from coming into the office.

You might be concerned that you’ll lose your job for taking the time off to take care of yourself, as you might worry that your absence will make you seem unreliable.

The fact is that people get sick. We’re all only human, and life happens. Sometimes, you need to take the day to recuperate. And, frankly, if you’re actually sick, no one in their right mind will want you spreading your contagious germs around the office anyway.

The chances that your boss will actually refuse your ask to stay home while sick are slim to none (unless, of course, they have a very valid reason for absolutely needing you at the office or you have a history of, ahem, playing hooky). Likewise, the chances that your boss will actually penalize you for catching a cold or eating bad sushi for dinner last night aren’t very high — most people will understand because they’ve been there, themselves.

Besides, you may have sick days you’re entitled to use. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average number of paid sick days is eight for any employee of at least a year. That number increases to 11 for an employee with 25 years of experience with the same company. (Remember that this is a blanket estimate; sick days very by employer!)

So what do you say in an email to your boss when you need to call out sick? We’ve got you covered.

How do you let your boss know you’re sick?

First things first, let your boss know that you’re sick as soon as possible. Give them as much notice as you can so that you and your boss (and your team!) can work together to figure out how to handle your absence if necessary. Besides, notice is respectful and appreciated, regardless of whether or not your absence will take a huge toll on the day’s work.

Next, when letting your boss know that you’re sick and can’t come into work, know that less is more. Seriously, spare your boss the details about your snotty nose and/or unpleasant bowel habits. No one needs to know what you’re death bed is looking like — they just need to know what it’s feeling like, which is why you can’t make it into work. 

You don’t need to send a super long email asking your boss for their permission to stay home while sick. Rather, you need to let your boss know that you came down with a fever and you’re really not feeling well enough to come into the office. If you need to and can, offer to provide a doctor’s note for proof.

What’s perhaps more important than what’s wrong with you, however, is what you’re going to do about it. Don’t just leave your boss and colleagues hanging in your absence. Reach out to your team to see if you can get some coverage and/or delegate some of your tasks for the day. If you can’t, at the very least, have a plan for how you’re going to catch up when you get back to the office — and reassure your boss that you have your workload under control. You might be out for the count, but the show must go on, and the responsible thing to do would be to ensure that it can and will without you.

How do you write a sick leave email?

Writing a sick leave email can be short and sweet and to the point. Again, don’t get into the nitty-gritty of how your morning stuck in the bathroom is going. Just make your boss aware of your situation and ask them to use a sick day to take care of it.

To follow up your ask, let them know of your plan to take care of your work — whether how you’re going to delegate your work or how you’re going to tackle it when you get back to the office.

Whatever you do, don’t start making a thousand excuses or oversharing. You don’t want your boss to think that you’re lying about being sick, and your boss probably doesn’t have time or care to hear your sob story (sorry, but it’s true!). So keep your email clear and direct, as informative as it needs to be, and reassuring.

Here’s an example email:

Hi [Boss’s Name],

I’m not feeling well today and will need to take the day off to visit the doctor and rest. I hope to be feeling better by tomorrow, but I will keep you in the loop after my appointment. In the meantime, [Coworker’s Name] has offered to help out in covering my shift today. I appreciate your understanding.

Best,

[You Name]

What do you put in the subject line when sick?

The subject line for your email calling out sick should be clear and professional. Subject lines like “[Your Name] – Calling in Sick” or “Not Feeling Well Today” can work well. Your boss will be able to immediately tell what your email is about before even opening it, and it will hopefully catch their attention quicker than a vague subject line so you won’t have to worry about them missing your email.

How do you text in sick examples?

Texting in sick is a lot like emailing in sick in that you’re not picking up the phone to call your boss. While an email might be more professional, according to some bosses, a text might be more efficient and offer quicker notice since most people keep their phones on them. 

Here are some text-in-sick examples (compared with these email examples!) to help you:

  • “I have [sickness] and will need to take a sick day today. [Coworker’s name] already agreed to cover my shift for the day, and I should be feeling better enough tomorrow to come back to work.”
  • “I’m really not feeling well today, so I don’t think I will be able to do my job productively or efficiently. I will need to take the day off, but I will catch up on what I’ve missed tomorrow.”
  • “I’ve come down with [sickness] and need to use a sick day today, but I’ll be back at work tomorrow. I don’t want to get anyone else in the office sick!”

Most people think if you are sick, you should stay at home until you are completely better. Unfortunately, some managers may tell employees they need to come back to work or discourage them from taking sick time. This is understandably stressful for the sick employee as well as coworkers, customers, or patients who have to be around them.

This is technically legal, but you might be able to ignore their request. To understand the answer to this question, consider:

  • Are you following your work’s sick leave policy?
  • Is your boss ignoring your work’s sick leave policy?
  • Are you hoping to take paid time off? Do you have sick time left?
  • Can you afford to take unpaid time off?
  • Does working require you to break the law, like during a quarantine or stay-at-home order?

Even with a doctor’s note or contagious illness, you still must follow your company’s sick policy or you risk losing your job or your pay for that day.

When Can My Boss Ask Me to Work?

Technically, your boss can ask you to come in at any time. They can also be upset or write you up for not showing up — especially if you don’t call to let them know.

It is your responsibility to explain that you are sick and unable to come in.

Many employers provide paid time off (PTO) for sickness. This should be used if you have it. Bosses typically should not deny your request for sick time off, whether they’re happy about it or not.

But you may not need to listen to your boss’s demands that you work. That depends on the company sick policy and your job status.

Job Status May Determine Your Sick Time

Depending on your employment status or contract, your manager can legally choose to not pay you for the time you did not work that day. An example of this is not getting paid for a restaurant cook shift you could not attend.

In some cases, that might be a fair trade for you to be able to stay home while sick. But other people may expect to get their paid sick time off with no questions asked. After all, that is why sick time is available, right?

Being asked to come in after saying you are sick is tricky. An at-will employee could be let go if they have no time off left and refuse to come in.

Company Sick Leave Policies Apply

Your company likely has policies in place when you are sick such as requiring you to:

  • Provide several hours’ notice that you cannot work
  • Contact your manager or human resources representative
  • Move your work to a backup person
  • Find someone to cover your shift
  • Use vacation time if sick time runs out

Short term FMLA leave may apply if your sick time and vacation time both run out.

You Always Have Options for Unpaid Sick Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can provide you with sick time for longer illnesses — but this is unpaid.

If your work does not let you come back after taking FMLA leave, or fires you when you return, you may have a wrongful termination claim.

Doctors’ Notes Don’t Always Fix the Problem

A boss may ask you for a doctor’s note or proof of your need for time away. You do not need to show them anything until you are coming back to work.

Note: You do not need to go into details about your sickness. This is private information. Any boss that pushes for more information is out of line. Your HR department, however, may be able to ask for more details.

To protect your general privacy, you can ask the doctor to give you a note that just says:

  • You were seen on a specific date
  • The date you can return to work

Culture Around Sick Time Off

There are stereotypes that employees use sick time just to take a day off, or that people work from home while "sick" but really are just slacking off.

This culture around sick time may be the reason some managers do not believe their employees or force them to come into work.

What Should I Do If I’m Forced to Work?

If you must go into work or risk being fired, follow these steps:

  • Tell everyone around you that you are sick
  • Wear a mask or wash your hands often
  • Keep your distance from coworkers and customers
  • Reaffirm to your boss that you are sick — your visible symptoms may help convince them you should not be there
  • Report any complaints about you being at work to your boss

It often helps to communicate with your coworkers and boss, such as "I came in today, but I do not think I should be back in tomorrow" or "I would like two days from home, and then I will try to be back in the office."

When You Can/Should Go Back to Work

You can go back to work when you are feeling better. Companies may:

  • Require a doctor’s letter saying you can go back to work
  • Need your word that a doctor has approved your return to work
  • Accept you saying, "I am contagious for two weeks" and gladly let you stay home and return when you are ready.

Other companies, such as jobs that do not offer work from home or service-industry jobs, may try to force you back before you are ready because they need people on-site to keep the business running.

Do not return to work out of guilt or pressure. Your job is to keep yourself and the people around you healthy.

Arm Yourself for Sick Leave Trouble

If you suspect your boss will frown on taking sick time, knowing your company’s sick policies is your best chance. Labor boards in your state are a good ally to back you up if your boss abuses the sick leave policies.

Firing someone who had a documented illness and followed the sick leave company policies would be a bad mark on any company.

An attorney can review your situation, the labor boards might take up your case, and you can let unemployment know why you were fired when you apply for it.

We all have gone through days where we just want to stretch our legs at home or go out with friends and take a break from work. We have no choice but to call in sick to do that.

Suppose, one owned a billion-dollar company, right? You’d be the boss and have the right to, well, not go to work one day! Without daydreaming about being billionaires, let’s focus on the matter at hand here.

Anyway, here’s a nurse’s opinion about when it’s okay to call in sick when you’re not sick. But, there may be a situation when you genuinely need leave to rest, or not.

Statistics say that a majority of workers fake it and make an excuse to call out of work. According to a leading website for data analysis and reliable information for careers, around 42 percent of people call in sick for leisure or other recreational activities. Further, one out of three respondents applies for sick leave after a vacation. A break for a break, sure, why not?

Jobvite.com has published in their 2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey report that 34 percent of the employees opt for sick leave without being sick.

A Career Builder report stated that 40 percent of the respondents call in sick without any sickness. Calling out sick as an excuse is more frequent in women (43 percent) than their male counterparts (35 percent). Out of the total respondents, 28 percent opine that they have to make excuses to get leave, even when eligible for a couple of paid leaves.

These statistics prove that we all go for sick leave with valid reasons to call out of work. The reasons might be sickness, leisure time, or just the need for a day off from meeting deadlines constantly and complaining about your boss.

The so-called milder symptoms of the new variant leave employees and leaders working from home uncertain if they should forge on—or take time off.

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Uh-oh. You feel a sore throat coming on. By morning it has progressed to sniffles, a headache, and . . . a positive COVID-19 test. You know to stay home, but what about your morning of back-to-back Zoom meetings, plus the memo and report due tomorrow? And two of your teammates are already out sick.

It’s a conundrum faced by hundreds of thousands of leaders and employees this week alone. And according to a report of a World Health Organization warning, half of Europeans are expected to contract the virus in the next eight weeks, creating a mass sick-leave scenario for which most companies have no policies. How, after all, can leaders manage workers who have contracted a virus that makes some feel fine, some feel “eh,” some feel sick, and some feel ill enough to be bed bound? “Safety is the first priority,” says Liz Schaefer, who leads Korn Ferry’s Professional Search practice. “But from an HR perspective, the challenge is to meet the needs of the business while keeping people safe.”

Omicron presents a particularly gray area for managers of white-collar workers. Of course, people who are significantly ill should call in sick and seek treatment. But this COVID-19 variant often causes milder symptoms, raising these questions: what about people who can sit up and log into meetings but feel as if they have a bad cold? What about those who are physically fine but struggling with the mental health effects of enduring yet another quarantine? The managing problem is further compounded when coworkers feel that their ailing colleagues’ work is being dumped on them. Studies show that when employees know their peers are not severely ill, they often feel resentful about shouldering the extra workload.

Experts say that for leaders, tone is as important as strategy when it comes to coping with these complications. “Leaders need to guide with empathy when it comes to people with COVID, whether mild or severe,” says Bradford Frank, senior client partner in the Technology practice at Korn Ferry. “Some might not be sick but have to quarantine; others can put in only a couple hours in the morning. And some might work at only 50% effectiveness.” The key, he says, is communicating sympathy, as well as clearly explaining the situation to clients.

As a rule of thumb, aim for empathy and flexibility, says Brian Bloom, vice president for global benefits at Korn Ferry. “You want to meet folks where they are.” Where that is will vary. Some employees may be able to return after just two days off. Others may be healthy but managing a family member’s hospitalization. Still others may find themselves stuck at home because of successive quarantine periods of different children. Different situations call for different methods of support. “It’s about analyzing the needs and responding with the appropriate benefits or resources,” Bloom says. He encourages leaders to remind workers that they can take a day off for their mental health when they’re also managing a child’s remote schooling, for example. “There’s an emotional toll on people,” he says

If possible, managers should lean toward allowing employees to skip all nonessential work. “At the end of the day, if your people are feeling sick, it’s not just about contagion but about the ability to do work and be productive,” says Juan Pablo González, sector leader for Professional Services at Korn Ferry. Let that peaky-looking employee take a nap.

If your employee calls in sick, they do not have to tell you exactly what is wrong. You must continue paying your sick employee’s wages and you cannot simply dismiss sick staff. You must also help your employee return to work. These obligations apply to all your employees, regardless of whether their contracts are permanent, temporary, or on-call agreements.

On this page

Do not ask your employees why they feel sick

Your employee does not have go into medical details with you. For reasons of privacy

(in Dutch), you are not allowed to ask. You do have to ask your employee when they think they will be coming back to work. Some kind of work may well be possible during the period of sickness.

Report sick leave and recovery to the company doctor or health and safety agency

If your employee is calls in sick, report sick leave and recovery to your company doctor or health and safety agency (arbodienst). You must do this within 4 working days. If your employee is recovered by then, report this as well. If your employee is a temporary agency worker or payroller, you don’t have to do anything.

Check whether you also have to report sick leave to the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV)

Sometimes you will have to register your employee as sick with the UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen). You must do so if:

  • your employee is sick for 42 weeks;
  • the employment contract expires during the period of sickness. If so, register your employee as sick with the UWV on the last working day;
  • your employee is entitled to benefit under the Sickness Benefits Act (Ziektewet)

.This is also the case if you are a self-insurer under the Sickness Benefits Act. You must register the employee as sick with the UWV within 4 working days. Recovery must be reported within 2 working days. Both can be done using the online sickness notification

Continue paying salary during the period of sickness

You must pay your sick employee at least 70% of their previous salary and holiday allowance. If the employment contract or Collective Labour Agreement (CAO) prescribes a higher percentage, you must comply with this. The maximum duration of continued payment is 104 weeks. If your employee’s contract finishes during that period, register your employee as sick with the UWV on their last working day. Your obligation to continue payment of salary ceases from then on.

Sickness does not lead to loss of holiday

If your employee becomes ill while on holiday, they do not lose their leave hours. However, they must report sick during the holiday.

Do not dismiss a sick employee

You can only dismiss a sick employee in certain situations, namely:

  • during the trial period;
  • in the event of instant dismissal;
  • in the event of bankruptcy;
  • if your business ceases to exist;
  • after 2 years of sickness, unless the UWV has imposed a wages penalty on you;
  • if your employee falls sick during the UWV dismissal procedure;
  • if your employee falls sick after you have filed a dismissal application at the sub-district court; sickness must not be the reason for such a dismissal application.

Help your employee return to work

(in Dutch, Wet verbetering poortwachter, Wvp) requires you and your employee to find ways together on how to get them back to work as soon as possible. This is formally known as ‘reintegration’. For example, you can adjust the workplace or provide flexible working hours.

Apply for benefit under the WIA if going back to work is not possible

If your employee is sick for a long time with no possibility of returning to work, then they can apply for a benefit under the Work and Income (Capacity for Work) Act (WIA, Wet werk en inkomen naar arbeidsvermogen) after 1.5 year. If the UWV rules that you have done enough in support of their return to work, you can stop paying wages after 2 years.

You may also dismiss your long-term employee after 2 years with the permission of UWV. You then pay transition payment to your employee. You may be able to apply for compensation

When you work in an in-person office environment, nearly anything that prevents you from physically showing up to the office can be a valid reason to call out of work. Whether it’s car trouble, a bad case of the sniffles, or nasty weather, if you can’t get to your workplace and aren’t set up to work remotely, there’s not a whole lot you can do.

But when you work from home and getting to the office simply means walking down the hallway to your very own home office, there are far fewer reasons to call out of work. Ultimately, this is one of the huge benefits of remote work! With fewer variables involved with getting you to work, you can more easily stay caught up on your tasks and responsibilities.

Despite this, it’s important to remember that there will be times when you really do need to call in sick when working from home. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of nine reasons to legitimately call off work when working remotely.

Note: FlexJobs is the longtime leader in helping job seekers find the highest-quality remote, work-from-home, hybrid, and flexible jobs. You can sign up for premium-level access to our database of hand-screened job listings, as well as job search and career webinars, and many other great resources! Learn today how FlexJobs can empower your job search!

9 Good Reasons to Call Off Work, Even When You Work Remotely

1. You’re Sick

Sure, when working in an office, sometimes a monster headache is enough of a good reason to call out of work—or at least enough to make you want to avoid the stress of a long commute. But when you’re working from home and don’t have to face an hour in anxiety-inducing traffic, pushing through your headache may feel more doable.

But, there also might be times when you’re just too sick to leave your bed. If you’re feeling that bad, what you really need is rest—not a day of working from the bedroom. To call in sick when working from home, let your manager know you’re feeling under the weather.

2. You Have a Doctor’s Appointment

The beauty of remote work is that you can often schedule doctors’ appointments during the day and still make up work without missing a beat. That said, not all appointments can be finished in under an hour.

If you’re going to have a lengthier appointment—or if the commute to and from the doctor’s office is far—it might be worth your while to call off work, at least for part of the day. That way, you can focus on your health without worrying about catching up with work later.

3. You Have a Family Emergency

Family emergencies can (and do) happen, ranging from having to rush your sick pooch to the vet to taking care of a suddenly incapacitated relative or dealing with a child’s injury. When you need time to sort through any sort of family emergency and aren’t able to make up missed work hours, it’s time to call off working remotely as you figure out how to best care for yourself and your loved ones.

4. Someone Else Is Sick

Taking care of kids (or a spouse or partner) when they’re sick can feel like a full-time job in and of itself. Between heating up soup, checking for fever, and providing soothing back rubs, your day may drift away with not much time for work tasks.

If you find that you’ll be spending most of your day playing nurse, then you should call off working remotely for the entire day. Not only do you want to be as present as you can for the person you’re taking care of, but it’s important to not overwhelm your own defenses by overworking. To stay healthy yourself, you need rest, too!

5. You Suffer a Loss

Having a loved one pass away is another one of the valid reasons to call out of work. Although some people might find work to be a much-needed distraction during times of loss, there’s a good probability that your work performance will suffer. It’s better to take the time you need to grieve before jumping back into your professional responsibilities.

6. You Have a Household Emergency

Let’s say that you woke up with a flooded basement or a leaky roof. If you have a household emergency that will require your time and attention while you call in contractors, then it’s best to call off from work for the time you’ll need to spend getting everything fixed. That way, you can deal with your emergency with a clear head and prepare your home (and your mind!) to return to work with a clean slate once the repairs are made.

7. You Need a Mental Health Day

There are bound to be days when, despite your best efforts, you’re just not in the best mindset to work. And with so many remote workers also having to juggle kids at home with online school and other new responsibilities amid the pandemic, people’s mental health is suffering.

Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed by the daily influx of challenges, or you just had a really, really rough night, there’s nothing wrong with taking a mental health day if you truly need it.

8. You’re Experiencing Bad Weather

Calling off work because of bad weather is something that in-office workers might legitimately have to do if they can’t physically get to the office. What about if you’re working remotely, though—the weather shouldn’t affect your ability to work, right? Not necessarily. If your area just experienced a severe snowstorm, for example, you might need to call off working remotely so you can plow your driveway or clear your sidewalks.

Or if strong winds and heavy storms whipped through your neighborhood, you might lose power or your internet connection and can’t work online. If you can find somewhere else to set up shop, that’s great, but bad weather often affects businesses all around you, leaving you stuck at home. If that’s the case, taking a day off until things return to normal may be the best plan.

9. You’re Interviewing for Another Job

Job searching when you work remotely is definitely easier than if you were in a traditional workplace. While you don’t have to worry about colleagues questioning why you’re suddenly wearing a suit (when you normally show up to work in jeans and a T-shirt), you might still have to call off work if you’re interviewing for another position.

You never know how long your interview might take or if your prospective boss might want you to interview with other team members on the spot. To give yourself enough of a time cushion without worrying about your current boss needing something from you ASAP, it might be worth it to call off work instead.

Calling in Sick When Working Remotely

When you work remotely, issues like bad weather, your car not starting, or feeling ill won’t necessarily impede your efforts to work from a home office. But there will still be days when you have a legitimate reason to call off when working remotely. Use your best judgment when you decide whether to call in sick when working from home so that you can return to your best form as soon as possible.

Looking for more advice and resources on working remotely? Consider subscribing to the FlexJobs newsletter. We’ll deliver career advice, remote jobs, and job search tips straight to your inbox!

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

NEW YORK CITY (StudyFinds)— Fear of retribution is keeping sick Americans from taking a day off from work. A new study polled 2,000 employed Americans about the stress of taking time off work and found that 58 percent avoid calling out for fear of being criticized by their employer.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has Americans taking their health more seriously than ever, half of respondents feel discouraged by their workplace to call out to take care of themselves when feeling under the weather. Black and Latina women feel this more than other Americans, as they are 10 percent more likely than white women to say they avoid sick days for fear of being reprimanded by a boss.

Working through illness

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Theraflu, the survey finds 55 percent have to give their managers a reason for calling out. Of this group, two in three feel like their bosses never believe their reason.

As a result, respondents have continued going to work while sick an average of three times within the last year. Nearly three in five (58%) even reported pushing themselves to clock in unless their symptoms are so severe, they can’t get out of bed.

Among Americans that can work from home (just over 1,700 respondents), 68 percent feel obligated to clock in at home rather than take a sick day – citing that they believe they only need to use a sick day if they have COVID-19.

This pressure and the increased ability for many to work from home exacerbates societal pressures to power through, continuing to work when sick. To that point, the average respondent has only called out sick three times over the past year. Furthermore, 68 percent of the poll say they will push through and go to work in some capacity because they “can’t afford” to take a sick day.

Staff shortages also contribute to this, as 63 percent of respondents feel guilty for taking a sick day because it places a burden on their co-workers.

“It’s unfortunate to see data showing so many Americans are avoiding taking the time their body needs to rest and recover when they’re sick, but it’s not surprising given the systematic barriers and cultural stigmas associated with sick days,” says Sameer Rabbani, Marketing Lead, Respiratory Health at GSK Consumer Healthcare, in a statement.

Can’t afford sick days?

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

This trend seems to be due to the fact that taking time off while ill is a financial strain, which 64 percent of respondents agree with.

In fact, Black and Latina women respondents reported they often avoid taking time to rest and recover because of the financial strain. The results show Black women are 14 percent more likely and Latina women are eight percent more likely than white women to say taking an unpaid sick day causes financial strain for her family.

In addition, two in three workers often have to put the needs of their family before their own health or need for a sick day. It’s a pressure Black women say they feel more dramatically, who are 10 percent more likely than white women to use sick days to care for someone else.

“Now more than ever, it’s important to take care of yourself for your own health, as well as that of your loved ones,” Rabbani adds.

“The ability to rest and recover should be a right, not a privilege. We’ve commissioned this research to support some of the 68 percent of employed Americans who work while sick because they can’t afford to take a sick day – and to help announce our Rest & Recover Fund, a microgrant program designed to help reimburse approximately lost wages from 1,000 unpaid sick days.”

A Reddit post has gone viral after a user claimed they tried to call out sick with wisdom tooth pain, and they were hung up on by their boss. People have a lot of strong opinions about the situation.

On January 6, Redditor Googhosty shared a post to the subreddit r/antiwork titled, “Tried to call off, boss just told me ‘no,’ and hung up on me.”

The original poster (OP) went on to reveal they think their wisdom teeth “are coming in,” and they need to go to a dentist, adding, “I can feel them pushing through, and it hurts.”

The Redditor wanted to call out of work, and they had “anxiety” about the situation throughout the day figuring it would be OK though.

“Nope, my boss told me, ‘No, you have to come in we need you,’ and immediately hung up the phone on me,” they said.

They continued: “Needless to say, I’m not going in, and I’m spending the night filling out applications for a new job. Just not looking forward to getting flamed in the work group chat for a no-call no-show because he just expected me to come in and didn’t tell them I wouldn’t be there.”

The OP also revealed in a comment why they’re “worried,” saying, since the boss “told me ‘no,’ I’m pretty sure he’s just not gonna tell my shift that I called. So I’m worried I’m gonna have all of them blowing up my phone asking why I didn’t call.”

Statista reported that as of 2021 there were 152.72 million people working in the United States. That number is thought to increase in 2022 to 159.82 million people employed in the country.

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

The viral post has over 11,000 upvotes and 500 comments. Some people gave the OP ideas on how to navigate the situation while others are backing them and still some don’t have sympathy for the Redditor.

The advice came rolling in for the OP. “Your message in the group chat: ‘Hi guys, you probably heard from [boss’s name] already, but just wanted to make sure you knew I won’t be coming in tonight,'” a Reddit user weighed in. “Better if he is in the group chat.”

Another Reddit user had their own idea for evidence in the situation. “Lol just text a screenshot of the call log with your boss’ number if they contact you, OP,” they suggested.

A person told the poster to tell their co-workers they are sick themselves. “No matter what your boss says or does just say called in sick,” they reasoned. “You don’t need to explain yourself and you’re allowed to be sick. F**k that boss.”

One user has never had this type of situation happen to them in their life. “I’m in the U.S. and have never had someone tell me I had to come in when I call off,” they revealed.

A Redditor brought up their own point. “Any place that makes you have anxiety just to call off is not a good place to be in,” they reasoned.

Some even commented about their own issues with their wisdom teeth. “I had my wisdom teeth out while I had the flu,” a viewer revealed. “I think that’s tied for when I had a non-laser appendectomy for the worst week of my life.”

A user mentioned they are “sure” the poster would have “gotten crap for suspected COVID” as well. “You need to remember that businesses are ready to let you die before they do,” they also added.

Not everyone had sympathy for the OP though. “I’m cool with anti-work, but using teething as a teenager is such a whiny move,” a user wrote.

One Redditor didn’t hold anything back. “Wow taking a day off because [you] think your wisdom teeth are coming in? Lol. I’d tell ya find a new job,” they said.

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

Health experts agree: If you feel sick, stay home. It’s a simple rule to follow, but it’s a vital one, especially as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country. If you need to stay home to recuperate, there are some protocols to follow, including crafting a sick day email, when informing your boss and coworkers that you need to take time off because you’re feeling under the weather.

Although there’s no federal law that ensures paid sick leave for all workers, around three in four civilian workers (76%) in the US have access to paid sick leave, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, and there’s a big push behind a federally mandatory sick leave policy in Washington, DC.

For the time being, use these step-by-step instructions for calling in sick to work.

Let your manager know ASAP

Email, text, or call your boss when you begin to feel sick. (You know your manager’s preferred form of communication.) Sounding an alarm as early as possible will give your boss more time to prepare for your absence. Let’s say you develop a fever at night and know that you’ll need to take a sick day. Email your boss that night; don’t wait until the morning to let your boss know that you’re ill.

In a recent survey by Zippia of 2,000 American workers, 3% of employees called in sick after they were due to arrive at work. Don’t do this.

Keep your explanation brief

No one wants to hear you describe the gritty details of your stomach flu. Simply put, keep the symptoms of your illness to yourself, and just offer a short explanation of why you’re calling in sick (“I have a fever”), and leave it at that.

Offer to make up any missed work

This may seem like a given, but it bears emphasizing: Let your boss and colleagues know that you’re more than willing to catch up on any tasks that you miss while you’re out.

Let people know how to reach you

If you’re up to it physically, consider providing your phone number to colleagues, or making yourself accessible by email, in the event that someone has to reach you. The caveat? Be honest with your peers and with yourself about your limitations. Don’t make yourself available if you’re too sick to respond. After all, the faster you recover, the sooner you’ll get back to work.

Call in backup

You don’t want to leave any clients or customers high and dry while you’re off work, so arrange for a colleague to cover for you in your absence. Let the person know that you’ll be providing their contact information in your out-of-office auto reply.

Set up an “out sick” message

In addition to alerting your boss and immediate coworkers that you’re taking sick leave, you’ll want to set up an out-of-office message that will let people who email you know that you’re unavailable. Once again, keep this sick leave email brief, but make sure it includes a reason for your absence, how long you expect to be out, and contact information for the colleague that’s covering for you.

Here’s a universal, no-frills “out sick” auto reply example:

Thank you for emailing me. I am currently unavailable because I am under the weather. I expect to return to work on [date]. For immediate matters, please email [co-worker’s name] at [co-worker’s email address].

I will reply to your message promptly upon my return.

Thank you for your patience.

What to do if you need extended medical leave

If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness or have an accident, you might be entitled to unpaid, job-protected leave, without losing health insurance, under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). You can find more information in the US Department of Labor’s Employee’s Guide to The Family and Medical Leave Act.

The same guidelines for alerting colleagues apply. Let your boss know as soon as possible. In this instance, a phone call may be more appropriate than a text since you’ll be out of the office for more than a day or two and arrangements will need to be made to cover your workload.

Remember to send an explanatory short sick leave email to coworkers and set up an auto-reply for clients and customers. Example:

I broke my wrist and will be out of the office for two weeks to recover. I expect to return to work on [date]. I will be checking email, though I may be slow to respond. For immediate matters, please email [co-worker’s name] at [coworker’s email address].

I appreciate your patience and look forward to being back in action as soon as possible.

Mental health sick days: Are they okay? Are you allowed to take them? How do you ask for one? Do you have to explain what’s wrong to your boss?

If you find talking about mental health hard, asking your boss for a mental health sick day might seem daunting. You may feel justified staying in bed with the flu, but experience guilt doing the same because of how you feel.

You may be tempted to just persevere in order to avoid what you fear would be an awkward workplace conversation.

Fortunately, you don’t have to. Workers are entirely justified in taking mental health sick days, and should be encouraged by their employers to do so, said Zena Burgess, CEO of the Australian Psychological Society.

“It has become more normal to recognise there are times when people struggle with mental health,” she said.

"There’s no difference taking a mental health day to taking a day off because of a headache or cold or flu or any other illness."

As for the awkward conversation, that’s not required either. You don’t have to tell your boss about your problems if you don’t want to.

Do I have a right to take mental health sick days?

If you’re a full-time employee, your right to mental health sick days is recognised by the National Employment Standards that’s overseen by the Fair Work Ombudsman. It states that employees can take 10 sick days each year (sometimes called personal/carer’s leave). This includes leave for stress, Fair Work says.

In addition to this, your employer cannot discriminate against you just because you’re dealing with mental health issues. Under the Fair Work Act, an employer cannot take adverse action against you (like dismissing or demoting you, or changing the terms of your employment) based on your mental health.

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“If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or flat for a couple of days in a row you may need a day out of the office or away from Zoom.”

Of course, if you’re a casual employee, this doesn’t help.

“They don’t have the employment structures for sick leave days,” Dr Burgess said.

“It is harder for them.”

It’s relevant to point out that the Federal Court in May found that some ‘casual workers’ on regular and predictable shifts were not actually casuals, and therefore were entitled to paid annual, sick and carer’s leave.

How do I know when I need one?

You don’t have to have a diagnosed mental health condition to take a day off.

Pay attention to how you feel. Warning signs that you’re not coping so well can be physical symptoms like back or neck pain or skin conditions, feeling angry and irritable, or being more distracted or unmotivated than usual.

Mental health sick days can prevent a little problem from getting bigger, says Dr Burgess.

“If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or flat for a couple of days in a row you may need a day out of the office or away from Zoom,” she said.

What do I need to tell my boss?

The important point here is you don’t need to tell your boss everything.

According to Headspace, you are not legally required to tell your employer about your mental health condition unless it has the potential to endanger your safety or the safety of your co-workers (for example, you operate heavy machinery and you’re finding you’re having trouble concentrating or sleeping).

You may need to provide a medical certificate, depending on your employment contract.

“You can say to your boss, ‘I’m taking a day off from work. I’m feeling flat and tired and need a mental health day,'” Dr Burgess said.

"If asked you can be quite vague about your personal circumstances. You don’t have to talk about anxiety and depression."

How to call in sick when you just need a day off

Everyone needs a day off occasionally, though sometimes the act of asking your boss for time off can feel awkward. You may feel like you will be seen as slacking, or that you’ll have to make up for lost time when you return. It can be even tougher if your office is understaffed, or if you play an integral part in the workplace. However, knowing how to effectively ask for what you need can be an effective professional tool – one you can start developing by making this simple request.

Be Thoughtful in Your Request

Whether you have time off coming or not, your boss and colleagues will appreciate it if you don’t ask for a day off when you’re right in the middle of a huge project, or when other people have already requested time off. For example, the day before a major holiday weekend is not the best time to ask for time off, nor is it wise to ask to be absent on the day of a major staff meeting or presentation. Consider making your request with a caveat:

I would really like to take off Friday, providing it will not be an inconvenience to anyone.

You can make your request in person, or in an email. If the request is in person, and you get the go-ahead for the time off, follow up with an email to confirm.

Example:

Per our conversation this afternoon, I will be taking the day off Friday, Jan. 23.

Do You Have Time Coming?

It can be easier to ask your boss for a day off if you are due vacation time. If this is the case, refer to your employee manual for directives on how far in advance you need to make the request. There may also be a formal request procedure, such as putting your request in writing or going through your direct manager or human resources representative. When this is the process, your asking is really just a formal submission, though you may want to preface it by giving the boss a heads up that you’re putting in a request.

Example:

I just wanted to let you know that I am putting in for a day off Friday. If that is going to be a problem, please let me know.

When You Need Medical Time Off

Some companies allow you to use sick days for things like doctor visits and checkups, even if you are just making an appointment during work hours and not unexpectantly sick. When this is the case, or if you simply need to schedule time for a health appointment, give your boss as much lead time as possible.

Example:

My dentist can work me in for a 1 p.m.. appointment Friday. Would it be OK to use half a sick day and leave work at noon?
If you feel like you are coming down with something, your boss would rather have you call in sick than come in and spread germs around the office. Try to call the night before your absence, when you feel ill, or first thing in the morning. This is especially important if you have a job that will need a sub, like a teacher or a bus driver.

Should You Offer an Explanation?

Theoretically, it is no one’s business why you are asking for a day off, but you may find you get more leverage if you have a “good reason.”

Examples:

My mother is coming into town this week, and I’d like to take Friday off so I can show her the sights.

I have a contractor giving me an estimate for replacing my garage door, and I’d really like to take Friday off so I can focus on getting all of the plans finalized.

I’m heading to a weekend wedding, so I’d like to request Friday off so I can leave one day for travel.

You can also use the “personal day” request if you want to keep your plans to yourself, even if you are only planning to catch up on errands and Netflix. Depending on the reason for your request of a day off, you may want your boss to know whether you will be reachable in case of an emergency, or even just a check-in. Some bosses are more apt to OK days off if they know they can reach you if a critical issue arises.

In general, you have no legal right to be paid while you are on sick leave from work, but this is due to change from 2022 – see ‘Upcoming changes’ below. Until then, employers can decide their own policy on sick leave and may decide to pay you while you are off sick. Your employer must give you written information about their sick leave policy.

If you cannot work because you are sick or injured, and you have enough PRSI contributions, you can apply to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) for a payment called Illness Benefit.

If you do not have enough PRSI contributions, you should contact the DSP’s representative (who used to be called the community welfare officer) at your local health centre. They will assess your situation.

Upcoming changes

The Government has announced a new Statutory Sick Pay Scheme. The draft scheme will introduce:

  • Paid sick leave for up to 3 sick days in 2022. This is planned to increase to 5 days in 2023, 7 days in 2024 and 10 days in 2025.
  • A rate of payment for statutory sick leave of 70% of normal wages to be paid by employers (up to a maximum €110 per day).
  • A right for workers to take a complaint to the WRC where they are not provided with a company sick pay scheme.

To be entitled to paid sick leave under the new scheme, you must be working for your employer for at least 13 weeks. You will also need to be certified by a GP as unfit to work.

Legislation to bring the changes into effect is expected in early 2022.

COVID-19 sick pay and sick leave

If you are sick or if you have been asked to self-isolate due to COVID-19 find out more about your Employment rights during the COVID-19 restrictions. The Government has also stated that self-employed people will be able to get either Illness Benefit or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

If your employer has had to reduce your hours or close the business and you have been temporarily laid off, you can get information in our document on lay-off and short-time working.

Rules about sick leave and sick pay

Can I get Illness Benefit and sick pay at the same time?

You can apply for Illness Benefit while you are also getting sick pay. But if your employer already provides sick pay, they will probably ask you to sign over any Illness Benefit payment to them for as long as the sick pay continues.

Will my employer provide sick pay?

If you are not sure whether you can get sick pay, you should ask your employer or look at your contract of employment.

Your contract of employment should clearly state the rules on sick leave. It may:

  • Limit the length of time you can get sick pay (for example, one month’s sick pay in any 12-month period)
  • State that if you are sick and unavailable for work, you must contact a specified person by a certain time

If you do not get sick pay although it is in your contract or terms of employment, you can complain under the Payment of Wages Act. Use the online complaint form on workplacerelations.ie.

When do I need a medical certificate?

Your employer may ask you for a medical certificate from your GP when you are on sick leave. For example, you may have to provide a medical certificate if you are off sick for more than 2 days in a row. The medical certificate should state the date you are likely to return to work. If you are likely to be off sick for a long time, your employer may need weekly medical certificates.

What can I do if I lose my job?

If you are often off sick or if your illness means you can no longer do your work, you may lose your job. In some cases, the law can protect you from unfair dismissal.

What help can I get after an accident or injury at work?

If you have an accident at work and you do not get sick pay, you can apply for Injury Benefit. This is a weekly payment from the DSP, which you can get if you are unfit for work due to an accident at work or an occupational disease, and you have enough PRSI contributions.

Under the Medical Care Scheme, you can claim certain medical costs that are not paid by the HSE or covered by a Treatment Benefit Scheme. You can find out more about these payments in our document on the Occupational Injuries Benefit Scheme.

If your employer provides sick pay, they will probably ask you to sign over to them any Injury Benefit payment from the DSP for as long as the sick pay continues.

If you suffer an injury at work, you can seek compensation from your employer by making a personal injury claim through the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB).

You can read more about this in our document on health and safety in the workplace.

What happens if I am off sick during public holidays?

If you work full time and you are on sick leave during a public holiday, you can get sick pay or Illness Benefit for the public holiday you miss. Alternatively, your employer may treat you as not being on sick leave on the public holiday and pay you as normal for that day. In this case, they will not count the public holiday as a sick leave day.

If you work part-time and you are on sick leave during a public holiday, you are entitled to time off work for the public holiday provided you worked for your employer at least 40 hours in total over the previous 5-week period.

However, you are not entitled to pay or time off for the public holiday if you are on sick leave immediately before the public holiday, and either of the following apply:

  • You have been off work for more than 26 weeks due to an ordinary illness or an accident
  • You have been off work for more than 52 weeks due to an occupational accident

What happens to my annual leave when I am off sick?

If you become ill during your annual leave and get a medical certificate for the days you are ill, these sick days will not be counted as annual leave days. Instead, you can use the same number of days as annual leave at a later date. An employer cannot insist that you take annual leave on days you are off sick, if you have a medical certificate for those days.

You can build up your annual leave entitlement while you are off sick, as long as you have a medical certificate. If you are on long-term sick leave and cannot take your annual leave due to illness, you can carry it over for up to 15 months after the end of the year it was earned. If you leave your job within these 15 months, you should get payment instead of the leave you did not take due to illness.