Sick Day Email Message Example

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019 

Although the expression is to "call in sick," email is often an acceptable way to inform your manager that you're sick and won't be able to come into work. Before you hit "send," however, you'll want to make sure your email is worded correctly to avoid any negative repercussions – either for you, for your team, or for your boss. (Check your employee manual about when a doctor's note is required.)

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In many cases at many organizations, sick days have transformed into "respond to emails from home" days.

Be clear in your email if you're too sick to respond to emails or if you plan to check in periodically.

Also, let your manager know if you're available to answer any questions that should arise during your absence.

If you are too sick or contagious to drive to work, but you feel that there are tasks that you could nonetheless do at home, you can certainly ask your supervisor if telecommuting for the day is an option. It can avoid your having to take a paid or unpaid sick day. The worst thing your manager can say is “No” (perhaps just because he prefers that you take the day to recover fully so that you can return to work as soon as possible).

Sample Sick Day Email Message

Use this sample sick day email message when you will be taking a sick day and if email – as opposed to a telephone call or text – is an acceptable way to notify your supervisor.

Subject: Your Name - Sick Day

Dear Supervisor Name:

I will be unable to attend work today because of personal illness. I will be using one of my sick days to cover this absence from work.

Please let me know if I can provide any further information. I’ll check my email throughout the day.


Your Name

What to Include in Your Email 

Provide your supervisor with important information about why you won't be in, but don't share too many details about the exact nature of your sickness. No one wants to picture the specifics! Here are some details you might want to include in your note:

  • Whether or not you'll be checking your email. You can also provide your phone number, in case something urgent comes up.
  • Whether you plan on taking a paid or unpaid sick day.
  • If you're in the middle of a project or will be missing an important meeting, you may want to share that information. You can say something like, "Marisa should be up-to-date if there are any questions on the Richardson proposal," or "I will do my best to call into the team meeting at noon," or "I'll also be emailing Tanisha so that she can cover my social media responsibilities."

You can also send an email to your team informing them that you'll be out sick if that's appropriate; keeping everyone in the loop will help them to adjust to your absence as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Finally, consider putting up an out-of-office response on your work email and/or telephone account. In it, you can let people who try to contact you know that you won't be responding to email today. It’s also a good idea to direct them to someone else who can help out with urgent questions and concerns during your absence. 

When to Send Your Email 

Be courteous to your supervisor, fellow employees and – if applicable – to your clients. Alert them that you will be out sick as soon as you know. You can send the email in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning when your alarm typically goes off, and you realize that you aren’t going to be able to make it out of bed that day.

You'll definitely want to avoid sending your email at the time you should be arriving at work — or worse, after your start time. It can make it seem like you slept through your alarm and it may leave co-workers scrambling to cover your work for the time it takes for your supervisor to find a substitute for you.