Do you need to provide your employer with a formal notification when you miss work because of a doctor's appointment? Some companies require employees to present written documentation when they are absent from work, even when it’s not an extended absence.
In some cases, you may need to write a letter or an email documenting your absence, or get a note from your doctor. In others, a verbal notice may be sufficient. What's required to document your appointment depends on company policy, and employers can legally request a doctor's note.
Workplace Absence Policies
If you're not sure what the company policy is, always ask about rules regarding absence and leave for medical appointments before you need to use them.
Do not assume that your current workplace has the same policies as previous ones did. Policies can also change, so the wisest course is always to inform your supervisor, if possible, that you need to take leave for a medical appointment. A week’s notice is probably ample time unless you are involved in a deadline-critical project where you know that your presence will be missed. In this case, try to give your supervisor extra time so that suitable arrangements for a substitute can be made.
When written notice is required, you may need to write the letter or your employer may ask for a letter from your doctor.
What Does Your Workplace Require for Absence Notes?
You may need to notify your supervisor in advance of scheduled appointments in order to be excused.
If you didn't do so, your absence may have disciplinary repercussions. For emergency appointments, however, you may be able to submit an excuse letter after the fact.
The note should simply verify that the employee was seen by the health care provider and should not require a diagnosis or information on the employee's medical condition.
Some workplaces may require a written, signed note, while others may accept an email, fax, or text message. Send or hand in the note as soon as you return to work, as some employers have a time limit on receiving them.
Work Excuse Letter Examples
The examples provided here are only for general guidance, so edit to fit your personal situation and to meet the requirements of your workplace.
Sample Medical Excuse Letter
Your employer may also have a policy requiring documentation of the appointment, such as a note from the doctor's office. If this is the case, you may wish to request such a note at the time of your doctor’s appointment, or have the office sign a note similar to the example provided.
Sample Doctor’s Visit Letter
City, State, Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:
Please accept this letter as written notification that I was unable to attend work on Monday, June 14, 2021, because of a previously scheduled doctor's appointment.
Please let me know if I can provide any further information or documentation.
Your Signature (hard copy letter)
Your Typed Name
Sending an Email Message
If you would prefer to email your notification, make sure it is written and formatted in a professional manner. Include your email address and a phone number where you can be reached, should your employer have any questions.
Choose a subject line that’s clear and to the point, e.g., “Doctor’s Note - John Smith’s Absence on [date].”
Sample Physician’s Note
If your employer requires written documentation of a doctor’s visit, your medical office may have a standard notification on letterhead that they can print upon request.
If not, you should compose an excuse like the following example and have your physician sign it at the end of your appointment.
Example of a Doctor's Note
July 12, 2021
City, State, Zip Code
To Whom It May Concern:
Please accept this letter as documentation that I treated [insert Name of Employee] during an appointment in my office on Monday, July 12, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.
Should you need additional confirmation, please feel free to contact my office staff at (555) 123-1234.
Physician’s Signature (hard copy letter)
Physician’s Typed Name, M.D.
Additional Steps May Be Required
You may need to follow up and document your absence in the timekeeping system, and request the leave retroactively. In workplaces with stricter human resources (HR) policies, you may be on an "absent without leave" (AWOL) status until your leave request is submitted and approved. This can result in disciplinary actions by some employers if you do not follow all of their procedures.
It’s also a good idea to check a few days after submitting your note to make sure that HR logged your documentation, especially if your employer assigns an official status for workers who are absent without leave.