Sample Absent Excuse Letters for Missing Work

This illustration list tips for writing a formal excuse letter including "Follow business letter format," "Understand your employer's policies," "Send the letter as soon as possible," "Keep it brief," and "Offer to help."

 Theresa Chiechi © The Balance

Everyone has to miss work from time to time, sometimes for illness, an appointment, or some other personal reason. Some employers ask employees for a formal letter explaining when and why they missed work.

Sometimes employers want employees to write these letters before an absence, and sometimes they are written after. When and how you submit your letter will depend on company policy.

Read below for tips on writing a formal excuse letter, as well as two sample letters: one to send an employer before you miss work and one for after.

Tips for Writing an Absent Excuse Letter

  • Follow business letter format. Use the official business letter format when writing your letter. You want this letter to be professional.
  • Understand your employer's policies. Before you miss work, make sure you know the procedure for letting your boss know that you will be absent. Know whether you need to tell your boss, and how you should get him or her that information (e.g., a phone call, a letter, an email). Also look into how far in advance you need to tell your employer.
  • Have a legitimate excuse. Be aware of company policy and what constitutes an excused absence from work. Some reasons for missing work may not be approved by your employer.
  • Send the letter as soon as possible. If feasible, send your excuse letter before you miss work. You want to give your employer time to reassign any of your tasks. If you are asking for a longer leave of absence, send this letter as early as possible. If you don't have time to send a formal letter, consider sending an excuse email instead.
  • Keep it brief. Do not go into great detail about why you are missing work (such as a long list of your symptoms, if you are sick, or a detailed story about a personal problem). Instead, succinctly state the day or days you will be absent, and explain (briefly) why.
  • Offer to help. You might consider helping make up for your absence in some way. For example, you might say that you will still be on email while away, or you might offer to work an extra hour or two later to complete some missed projects. If you can prepare for your absence in advance, ask one or two of your colleagues or employees for help completing any assignments you will be missing. This will be particularly important when you are asking for a longer leave of absence.

Sample Formal Excuse Letter

You can use this sample as a model to write an excuse letter. Download the template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online), or read the text version below.

formal absence excuse letter
©TheBalance 2018 

Formal Excuse Letter (Before Missing Work)

Date

Employer's Name
Employer's Title
Organization
Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

Please accept this letter as formal notification that I will be unable to attend work from September 1, 2019 to September 5, 2019. I will be attending the professional development conference that I spoke with you about earlier this week.

I have arranged to be on email during work hours, and I will call and check in with the office once a day to see what I missed.

Please let me know if I can provide any further information, or if you need anything else from me to make my absence run smoothly. Thank you for allowing me to take this terrific opportunity.

Sincerely,

Your Signature (hard copy letter)

Your Typed Name

Formal Excuse Letter (After Missing Work)

Date

Employer's Name
Employer's Title
Organization
Address
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

Please accept this letter as formal notification that I was unable to attend work on January 2, 2020 due to illness. I have already completed the tasks for this week that I missed during my absence.

Please let me know if I can provide any further information. Thank you for understanding.

Sincerely,

Your Signature (hard copy letter)

Your Typed Name

Sending an Email Message

Sometimes it makes more sense to send an email message explaining your absence. For example, if you want to tell your boss as soon as possible that you will not be at work, emailing or calling is the quickest way to share this information. Some employers even ask that employees alert them to absences via email or text.

If you send an email message excuse for your absence, be sure to keep the email short, simply stating the dates you will be absent and giving a brief explanation for why you will be away.

Also be sure to include a clear subject line, even simply: “Absence from Work - Your Name.” This clearly explains the purpose of your email to your boss.

If you would prefer to email your excuse, here's how to send a professional email message.

More Time-Off Request Letters

Employees often also have to write excuse letters for longer leaves of absence or other extended time off. Formal excuse letters are used in different situations, too, such as an absence for jury duty or from school.

Here is a selection of letters and emails requesting time off from work. Be sure to tailor your correspondence to match your personal request with your company's policies in mind.

Key Takeaways

Know company policy. Before you send an excuse for an absence, know your company’s policies on excused absences and missing work.

Keep it simple. Give a simple and straightforward excuse. There is no need to provide too much information about your absence.

Provide your excuse in a timely manner. Let your boss know as soon as possible that you won’t be able to work.