Have you recently been absent from work, or are you planning to be out in the future? If so, you may need to write an absence excuse letter for your boss or HR.
Most of the time, employers are legally allowed to request a note when you need a sick day or are otherwise absent from work. This is true whether or not you’re one of the lucky 78% of U.S. workers who has access to paid sick leave.
Some companies mandate that all time off be documented in writing. Still others require a written note for some absences (or lengths of absence) but not for others. It’s best to familiarize yourself with company policy as soon as you know you’ll be off work.
Why Write an Absence Excuse Letter?
Whether or not your company requires an absence excuse letter when you’re out of the office, it’s a good idea to write one. Documenting missed workdays creates a record for your files as well as for the company’s. That way if a question should ever arise about your time off, your file will show that your absences were all legitimate.
In some cases, you can call in sick or send a quick email stating that you won't be in. In others, you’ll need to prepare a more formal letter. Refer to company policy to find out your employer’s rules.
Some excuses for missing work are considered more legitimate than others. For example, your boss might get suspicious if you claim that your dog ate your car keys. (A real excuse documented by a CareerBuilder survey on sick days.)
How to Write a Work Absence Email or Letter
Your work excuse letter can be sent via paper or email. If you send an intra-office letter, you need to include the date and the contact information of your supervisor or HR manager at the beginning.
- Your email subject line should contain your name and “Absence Excuse.”
- Always begin your letter formally: “Dear Ms. Jones” or “Dear Phyllis.”
- The body of your letter should be brief and specific, mentioning the reason for your absence, the date, duration, and if you are including any explanatory documentation such as doctor or ER paperwork.
- Use a polite and professional close, such as “Sincerely” or “Regards.”
Remember that any business correspondence should look professional. Even in a casual office, use the appropriate format for your letter, and proofread it before sending.
Careless errors reflect negatively on your professional reputation. You don’t want a poorly written absence excuse to become part of your employment file.
Sample Work Absence Letters
Here are sample absence excuse letters to review when you need to provide a written excuse for missing work. It’s fine to keep the letter short and simple—just be sure to state the exact date of the absence and the primary reason behind it.
Sample Work Absence Letter #1
August 5, 2021
233 Main Street
Seaview, MA 02497
Dear Mr. Smith:
Please accept this letter as written notification that I was unable to attend work on August 3, 2021, due to family illness.
Please let me know if I can provide any further information or documentation from our physician’s office.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Sample Absence Excuse Letter #2
July 19, 2021
Vice President, Marketing
100 Office Park Way, Ste 200
Center City, Iowa 52240
Dear Ms. Rodriguez,
I am writing to document my absence on July 15, 2021. I needed to take my son to have his leg set after an injury in his baseball game the previous night.
Please see attached documentation from the pediatric orthopedist. If you need any additional information, please let me know.
Signature (hard copy letter)
Sample Absence Email Messages
Here are examples of email messages sent to a supervisor to document being absent from work.
Sample Absence Email Message #1
Subject: John Braddock - Absence Excuse
Please accept this letter as documentation of my absence on August 6, 2021. I was traveling to and attending my grandmother’s funeral.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for your understanding.
Sample Absence Excuse Email Message #2
Subject: Roger Bledsoe - Absence Excuse
Dear Mr. Garner,
Please accept this letter as written documentation of my absence on July 30, 2021. As you know, I am in the process of divorce, and I had meetings with my lawyer and financial planner.
I appreciate your support and understanding. If I can provide additional details or documentation, please let me know.
Sample Absence Email Message #3
Subject: Janet Nathan - Absence Excuse
Dear Ms. Blevens,
Please accept this email as written documentation of my absence on August 2, 2021. A tree fell on our house during the windstorm the previous evening, and I had to meet with our insurance agent, an arborist, and a roofer.
I appreciate your support and understanding. If I can provide additional details or documentation such as photographs of the damage, please let me know.
IF YOU’RE ABSENT FROM WORK, PLAN TO WRITE AN ABSENCE EXCUSE LETTER: Some companies have policies that require these letters, but you should send one in any case.
SOME EXCUSES ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS: Familiarize yourself with company policy so that you can be sure your excuse is covered.
BE PROMPT AND PROFESSIONAL: Write a formal business letter or email and take care to proofread before sending.
USE A SAMPLE EXCUSE LETTER OR EMAIL: Customize your note so that it reflects your circumstances.