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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

The Email Template That'll Make You Feel Less Guilty Asking for a Sick Day

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You wake up and your eyes are so gummy they’re almost sealed shut. Your head feels like it’s full of concrete. You’re so achy that even your hair and your fingernails hurt. You have goosebumps, but you’re also clammy and sweating.

Ugh. What’s the first thing you should do? Well, obviously, start by complaining and then chug some fluids, grab some tissues, and wrap yourself in every blanket you can manage to scrounge up.

But, when you’ve checked those boxes? Email your boss and let her know that there’s absolutely no way you’re heading into the office that day.

I know what you’re thinking: Oh, I can’t ask for a sick day! That always makes me feel like I’m shirking responsibilities. I can just tough it out.

No, my friend, you can’t. Not only is it a bad idea for your own health and wellbeing (remember two minutes ago when rolling out of bed felt like a feat of superhuman strength?), but it’s also terrible for your co-workers. Nobody likes the germ-infested colleague who’s leaving a trail of tissues and misery everywhere he goes.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking again: How can I possibly draft a coherent and professional sick day email when I can barely remember my own name?

Don’t worry, I’m here for you. Just use this handy email template to let your boss know you’ll be out sick—and then head straight back to bed. You look awful.

Dear [Boss’ Name],

Despite my efforts to stay healthy this cold and flu season, I woke up this morning feeling pretty terrible.

As a result, I’m going to take a sick day today in order to rest, recover, and ideally prevent spreading these awful germs around the office.

[Colleague’s Name] should be able to step in if anything time-pressing crops up during my absence. Otherwise, I’ll tackle those pending items as soon as I return.

I’m hoping to be back in the office by [Day], but I’ll be sure to keep you updated if that changes.

Thanks for understanding—and stay healthy!

[Your Name]

Here’s the important thing to note: There’s no need to dive into all of the gory details of what’s keeping you bed-ridden. Simply stating that you need to stay home due to an illness is really all of the information that your manager needs.

You also need to make sure to indicate whether you’re taking a true sick day—meaning you won’t be working and are going to be totally out of touch—or if you plan to still get things done in the isolation chamber of your own home. That way your manager will know if he should bother emailing you with any questions, or just leave you to wallow in your own misery.

Otherwise, keep things short, sweet, and to-the-point. Let’s face it—right now you don’t have the mental wherewithal to draft any lengthy, eloquent prose anyway.

So, just put your own information into this template, send it off, and then get some much-needed rest. You’ll kick this bug before you know it!