If you are sick, you may need to request a leave of absence from work to recover and rest and to protect your coworkers from anything contagious. When you take a sick leave, it's important to communicate that you will be out of the office and the length of your absence to your clients, coworkers, managers or other key stakeholders.
In this article, we discuss how you can communicate your sick leave effectively to people at work by sending a quick and easy sick leave email.
Why it's important to write a sick leave email?
A sick leave email allows you to formally document your request to take an extended leave of absence from work due to illness. It allows you to indicate the dates and details of your absence in writing so everyone at work understands why and for how long you will be gone. Clear communication is essential to help your colleagues distribute your workload and manage urgent deadlines. A sick leave email will also serve as evidence in your HR file for the future.
How to write a sick leave email
Different industries and jobs have varying protocols for sick leave, especially for shift jobs that require your work to be covered when tight schedules or clients are involved. Make sure to familiarise yourself with your employer's sick leave policy, including what you are expected to do when taking a sick leave, whether or not you need to accrue a certain number of hours and how it affects your salary.
When preparing for sick leave, contact your manager or supervisor first in case they have specific instructions about the next steps. Make sure to inform your manager immediately, ideally early in the morning or the night before. If it's a reasonable hour, call them in person. If not, you may need to send them a sick leave email.
Here are steps you should consider when writing a sick leave email:
1. Specify your condition and how long you will be gone
While it's always helpful to have a doctor's certificate, having a high fever or sickness that prevents you from performing daily activities and being productive are all valid reasons to take a sick leave. If possible, indicate how long you expect to be out of the office. If you have visited a doctor, they might recommend a certain amount of time off. Example:
I'm writing to inform you that I developed a high fever last night. I'm hoping it would subside by this afternoon. However, it looks like my body temperature is still above normal. I expect to be back in the office in a couple of days, given my body temperature goes back to normal.
2. Indicate whether you'll be actively working from home
Workplaces have different cultures and policies around what you should do when you take a sick leave. Although some companies may encourage you to work from the comfort of your home, others might tell you to rest and stay offline for the day.
If you are not sure, you can offer to work from home and see if your supervisor or manager instructs you otherwise. However, if you are physically unable to work, you need to take the day off. This way, you can focus on your recovery and getting healthy to return to work as soon as possible.
I decided to stay home today as I have come down with the flu and want to make sure I don't pass on anything in the office. I'll work as I'm able, but I've asked Dao Ming Si if he can cover for me today just in case.
3. State what work you need help with
If you have an important presentation, project or deadline on the day of your sick leave, work with your supervisor or manager to ensure that work is reassigned or rescheduled so that work continues to move forward during your absence. Give them as much detailed instruction and context as possible.
I'm scheduled to provide an employee with training today at 2 p.m., therefore I have asked our other trainers if anyone else is available at the moment. If not, I have asked the Project Manager if we can reschedule it on Friday. Following up with the Project Manager and trainers in this matter would be much appreciated.
4. Mention a coworker who can help cover your work while you're absent
Find a coworker to cover for you during your sick leave. While this may not always be possible, if you can, show that you have your team's best interests in mind.
Sometimes, your manager or supervisor will handle finding someone in the office to oversee your work while you are out, so make sure to tailor your email to what you know are common practices in your office.
I have briefed Martin on my current workload and have asked him to help out in the case that anything comes up. I don't expect any urgencies.
After you have let your supervisor or manager know, follow any instructions they provide on next steps and communicate them to other colleagues. In most cases, they might just tell you to rest and take the day off. It is important to balance making sure you are responsible and proactive when taking a sick leave while also making it a priority to rest, heal and get better.
Setting up an out-of-office message
Aside from writing a sick leave email for your manager and coworker, it is also helpful to set up an automatic out-of-office email. This way, clients and coworkers are immediately informed that you are not in the office and may take longer to get back to them. This message will go to everyone that sends you an email, so you can be as conservative as you would like with the information. For instance, if you have a client, you might just say that you are on leave instead of explaining that you are sick.
Thank you for getting in touch with me. Currently, I'm out of office today, so please expect a delay in my response. If you have an emergency, please contact my supervisor, Vic Chan, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will be back in the office for regular working hours this Wednesday, May 12.
Thank you for your patience,
Senior Account Executive
Sick leave email examples
Here are a few examples of a sick leave email for you to make your own:
Example 1: Simple sick leave email
Hi Vanessa Wong,
I wanted to let you know as soon as possible that I will be staying home from work today. Unfortunately, I developed a stomach ache that has made it very difficult to get work done. I went to the hospital last night and was told it should subside in the next 24 hours. I do not expect to be online throughout the day.
Although I do expect to be back in the office tomorrow, I've asked Angie Cheung to take over for me today in case an emergency occurs. I do have an important call scheduled with a supplier, but my accounts counterpart, Chung Sze, has agreed to manage the meeting.
Please let me know if there are any additional steps you would like me to take to make sure the day runs as smoothly as possible in my absence.
Thank you for understanding,
Example 2: Sick leave sample with a request to use paid leave
Dear Stephen Kwan,
I'm writing to inform you that I won't be able to come to the office today because I have a high fever. I went to Hong Kong International Hospital last night and the doctor diagnosed me with Peptic Ulcer.
The doctor prescribed three days off from work as I need to rest, so I asked Jimmy Chiu and Anson Chan to take over my meeting this morning. They will also handle my pending assignments while I am away. If you have any urgent needs, please don't hesitate to contact me via email or Messenger.
I have also attached my medical certificate in this email. I have also cc'd our HR Manager above so he can process my leave of absence. Thank you very much for your help.
Example 3: Out sick email for indefinite leave
Dear Nick Yeung,
I wanted to let you know that I can't report to work today. I've been feeling sick since last week and only saw my doctor yesterday.
My doctor diagnosed me with Hypertension and prescribed medication that lasts for three days. Although I feel a little better now, my doctor advised me to stay home and get enough sleep because it will take some time for me to fully recover.
I'll make sure to notify you if I am not able to report to work tomorrow so that we can make a temporary arrangement for my workload. For now, Brenda Tsang has agreed to handle my tasks for the day.