No one likes being sick. Even more so, no one likes being sick and having to muster up all of their zombie energy to compose a sick day email to their boss.
First off, don’t feel guilty. Your boss isn’t going to fire you for having a fever. We’re all human, and it’s inevitable that we’ll get sick sometimes. Plus, no one wants to work beside a coworker who’s blowing through tissues all day like it’s a race. Make some tea, wrap yourself in a fuzzy blanket, and focus on getting better.
When should you send the email?
ASAP. As soon as you know you’re too sick to go into work, send an email. It’s nice to give your boss a heads-up as far in advance as possible so they’ll know if someone is covering for you in a meeting or if you’re going to reschedule. It’s never a good look for you to email your boss five minutes before you’re supposed to be in for a big meeting (of course, there are exceptions if you literally get sick five minutes before you come in).
Don’t forget to review your company’s sick day policy
Does your company differentiate between sick days and personal days? Do you have a remote working policy? It’s important to point out what kind of time you’re taking off—a sick day or a personal day—in the email to your boss.
What specifics do you need to include?
Let your boss know you’re sick (*cough cough* duh), whether you’ll try to work remotely or need to go completely off the grid, whether or not you’ll be able to respond to emails/Slack messages, and when you hope to be back. Be sure to include a doctor’s note (or let them know when you’ll be getting one) if your company’s sick day policy requires one.
Enough about what you should say. What should you not say?
Don’t write a 500-word sob story essay chronicling every detail of your sickness. Keep it short, sweet, and professional—your boss doesn’t want to hear about each and every gruesome thing ailing your body. Also, don’t blame your sickness on another coworker. Saying, “Ugh, Jason got me sick again. I hate him so much!” is a big no-no.
Finally, don’t lie about being bedridden with the flu. If you need a personal or mental health day, just be honest. That’s totally normal and okay—you don’t want to get caught in a lie with your boss.
Here are two sick day email examples
Hi [Boss’ Name],
Unfortunately, I woke up very sick this morning. I won’t be able to make it into the office today, but I can work on my projects from home and will be available via email and Slack. I’ve asked [coworker’s name] to cover the morning meeting.
I apologize for the inconvenience, and I hope to be back by [day]. If anything changes, I’ll let you know ASAP.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
Hi [Boss’ Name],
I woke up sick this morning, and I won’t be able to make it into the office—I definitely don’t want to get anyone else sick. In order to recover completely, I feel it’s best for me to spend the day resting, so I will not be available today. I don’t have any urgent projects due tomorrow, so I hope to resume my work once I’m feeling better. Hopefully, I’ll be back in the office on [day].
I apologize for any inconvenience, and I’ll keep you updated on my condition. Please let me know if you have any questions!