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Calling in sick to work can be scary, even if you work in a relaxed office environment. According to a report from NPR, 55 percent of Americans between the age of 30 and 49 still go to work when they are sick. Approximately 60 percent of people in the 18-29 age bracket will even go to work knowing they have a cold or flu. Whether it's your first time "calling in sick" or you just get the jitters anytime you need to write a sick day email, it really shouldn't be a stressful process.
Follow Company Protocol
Most companies should have a sick day protocol listed out in your employer's handbook. Each company is different when it comes to taking a day off, so if it is your first time calling, consult your guide first. If there isn't a list of instructions in your employee handbook, consult your manager to see if you have to submit doctor's notes, have to call in versus sending an email, or if you have to inform your colleagues, team, and clients that you're out of the office for the day.
When To Send The Email
The earlier, the better. If you know that you're going to call out for the next day during the middle of the night, you can send the email alerting your supervisor and/or fellow employees then and there. That way when they come into work, or check their emails when they wake up, it won't be a last minute type of surprise. If you wake up feeling ill, send it as soon as you would have gotten up to get ready for work. The worst thing you can do is send in the email when you would have arrived at work, or when you would have started work. The more time that your office has to prepare the better.
What to Include in Your Email
When sending in a sick day email, you want to keep it short and don't share too many details in the note. Before you send the email, you need to assess how sick you are. If you're ill, but can still work from home, state that in the email. If you're ill and won't be working, but will still be checking emails, then state that. If you are ill, won't be working, and won't be checking emails, it might be best to set up an out-of-office email response.
This is helpful if you're in the midst of working on a project, or someone needs to urgently get in touch with you. If you won't be looking at emails, and there is a need for an urgent response, put in the email who can also help with questions or concerns.
When crafting your email state the reason for your absence (remember don't go into the gory details), state how long you will be absent from work, state how you will be able to communicate with your boss and team i.e. through phone or email, clarify whether you will be working or not/whether you will be checking email or not, check to see if you need to provide HR with a sick note if you are taking a paid leave, and most importantly name your point person if you're working on a project or will miss any meetings.
Sample Sick Day Message
Hi [Your Boss’ Name],
Due to [state your illness], I’m going to take a paid sick day today. I plan on checking my email periodically throughout the day [only put this if you will be checking email, if you won't be checking your email do not include] 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 him/her to run the morning check-in meeting I scheduled with the team [or whatever else he/she needs to help cover]. Please let me know if you have any questions. I hope to be back in the office [when you will be back in]!
Allanah Dykes has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Politics from Fairfield University. She started her freelance career in 2016 and has written about how to land a job post-college, internships, and the interviewing process. She has pieces featured on Elite Daily, Levo League, and Popsugar.