The next time you're sick, don't just call in - send an excuse letter for your absence too
In a perfect world, no one would ever need to take time off from work due to illness or injury. Unfortunately, however, there are a whole host of ailments that can force employees to call in sick with little warning. Most employers understand this simple fact, and few expect or want you to show up with an illness that could get others sick. But how should you handle those absences? Is it enough to simply call your employer or should you also provide an excuse letter when you're absent?
In this post, we'll explain why you should always try to provide an excuse letter for your absence. We'll also provide some helpful tips to guide you as you create your own formal excuse letter for being absent and provide an example of an absence excuse letter. Finally, we'll include a template that can be customized for your own absence letter needs.
Do you need an excuse letter when you're absent?
Before we begin, it might be helpful to address the question of whether you even need to send a formal excuse letter when you're absent from work. The simplest answer is a resounding yes. While many employers will allow you to simply call in or notify them via an app on your phone, you should always try to send a separate and more formal excuse letter too.
It's common courtesy to provide at least some details about your need for an absence, and a letter - even if it's sent by email - is the most professional way to achieve that goal. There are several benefits to sending such a letter, some of which include:
Your formal sick leave letter can provide some explanation for your absence, which employers will always appreciate.
A thoughtful letter that includes some measure of regret for the absence can make a positive impression on employers and help to maintain good relations with the company.
Many employers will want some form of documentation, which you will need to submit to them anyway. You should accompany that documentation with a professional sick leave request.
Tips for writing a formal excuse letter for being absent
It's always helpful to follow some simple guidelines when you're interacting with your employer and that's true in this instance as well. When you find yourself in a position where you need to send an excuse letter when you're absent, following these tips can help you ensure that you make the right impression.
As soon as you know you're not going to be able to make it to work, notify your employer. The last thing any employer wants to experience is receiving a notification after you've been missing for several days. As a rule, make sure that you or someone else contacts them by phone or email as soon as you know you're going to be absent. You can follow up with your sick leave letter later, if you plan to be gone for several days. That immediate notification is critical, though, so make sure that it occurs as promptly as possible.
Be sincere and apologetic
One of the most important things that you can do in any excuse letter for an absence is acknowledge how it inconveniences your employer. Yes, you have a human right to take a sick day when you're ill, but that doesn't mean that the company isn't negatively impacted by your absence. A sincere acknowledgment of that fact can help to maintain good will. For example, you might say:
“I know that my illness couldn't have come at a worse time for the team, and sincerely hope that it doesn't cause too much disruption for our current project. I hope to be up and around and back at work by [date], so please let me know if anyone has any questions that I need to answer in the meantime.”
Give a reason for the absence
Obviously, you have a right to some level of basic medical privacy, so we're not suggesting that you go into concise detail about your sickness, injury, or other reason for being absent. However, it's customary to provide some minimal level of explanation for an absence. If there are tests that need to be performed or sensitive treatments that you need to undergo, you do not need to disclose that information. However, if you're sick or have been diagnosed with a disease or other malady, there is little harm in telling your employer.
Set clear expectations for your return
Your letter should also try to provide some type of timeline for your anticipated return. Obviously, that's something that may be difficult to estimate, especially if you're suffering from any serious illness. However, it's polite to at least let your employer know what the current expectations might be. If your Doctor has said that you require physical rehabilitation, a period of bed rest, or some other lengthy recovery process, notify your employer.
Of course, there will be times when even your Doctor cannot forecast a reasonable timeline for recovery. If that's the case, you should provide your employer with some advance warning that your leave of absence may require more time away from work than anyone expects. Obviously, the most important thing is that you have time to recover from your condition, but it's still important to communicate as honestly as possible with your employer.
Follow up as necessary
You may need to send more than one excuse letter when you're absent for an extended period. Your employer will need to be kept informed about your recovery progress, so check in periodically with new communications to provide those updates. Unless you know for certain that you'll be able to return to work on a certain date, always provide anticipated return dates - while noting that everything is contingent on your Doctor's assessment of your recovery.
How to write the excuse letter for absence
With those basic tips in mind, let's examine a step-by-step process for writing your own sick leave letter. By following these simple steps and referring to the examples and template below, you should have no problem creating your own professional excuse letter when you're absent.
Use a professional format
Do not send your employer a letter with fancy fonts or colorful graphics. Keep it simple, professional, and easy to read. Use a normal font like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, set to 11- or 12-point size. That will ensure that the letter is clear and pleasing to the eye.
Date each letter that you send
Don't forget to date the letter so that everything is well documented when your employer files the document in your employee records.
Use the recipient's contact information
To properly address your letter, you should use the recipient's full contact information - including their full name and title, company address, department, city, state, and zip.
Use formal greetings
Always greet the recipient with a standard “Dear [Mr. / Ms.] [Contact name] format. Even if you're on a first name basis with the contact, you should still stick to a more formal approach with this type of notification, to ensure that you appear as professional and respectful as possible.
Compose the body
The body of the letter may be as simple as a single paragraph - for example, if you plan to miss only one day - or it may require several paragraphs. Begin by diving right into the most important detail: your absence. This should be a direct statement that notifies your employer that you will be out of the office due to an illness or injury. It should also include some estimate of how long you expect to be gone, while noting that your return is dependent on your recovery progress.
For any absence that lasts longer than a day or two, it can be helpful to provide any pertinent information about your current workload, particularly if anything needs to be completed before your return. Depending on how sick you are, you may also want to let your employer know that you will be available to provide information to assist your colleagues and team.
Thank them for their consideration
Once those primary concerns are addressed, you should include some acknowledgment of the impact your absence may have on the company. Apologize for the inconvenience and express gratitude for the company's consideration of the matter. This is also a good place to note the inclusion of any documentation that your Doctor may have provided.
Simply close with the customary “Sincerely” or “Best regards” and sign the letter. This can be done by simply typing your name if you plan to send the message via email. If you're mailing it, though, you'll need to type your name below your handwritten signature. Given how slow postal mail can be, however, it's usually recommended that you just email your employer.
Examples of excuse absence letters
To give you an idea of what this type of excuse letter for an absence might look like, we've included an example that you can review at your leisure. Either use it as inspiration or customize parts of it to help you create your own message.
October 12, 2023
Mr. Sam Smith, Marketing Head
5555 Any Street Drive
Anytown, Anystate, 00000
Dear Mr. Smith,
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to inform you that I have contracted bronchitis and will need to be away from work for the next five days while I complete recover. I know that it is short notice and apologize for the disruption that it may cause to the team and our company.
If my Doctor's treatment plan works as he expects, I should return to work with plenty of time to complete the ABC project that we've been working on. However, if anyone there needs my input before my anticipated return, please have them contact me at 555-555-5555. While I will be resting to recover as quickly as possible, I don't want my illness to present an obstacle to our success.
Though I will be in bed throughout much of this recovery process, I will forward my work email to my phone so that I can be reached in emergency situations. If nothing changes, I expect to be back at work on the 17th.
I appreciate your concern and understanding and look forward to returning to my duties as quickly as I can. I have attached documentation from my Physician, including office notes from my visit with him today.
Excuse letter for absence template
[Mr. / Ms.] [Contact last name], [Contact title]
[Company city], [Company state] [Company zip]
Dear [Mr. / Ms.] [Contact last name],
I hope this letter finds you well. I am writing to inform you that [briefly describe your illness or injury, and your need for an absence]. I apologize for any inconvenience my absence may cause for the team.
According to my doctor, I should be able to return to work by [estimated date of return]. If that expectation changes for any reason, I will notify you as quickly as I can.
[If you may be able to help your team from home, say so. Alternatively, provide any necessary details the company may need to know about your current workload - especially any projects that may have looming deadlines.]
I appreciate your understanding and look forward to recovering quickly and returning to my job. I am including documentation from my Doctor with this letter.
Sometimes, common courtesy makes all the difference
Everyone gets sick from time to time and sometimes that means missing work. As a professional, however, you should never miss work without notifying your employer. When you send an excuse letter when you're absent for illness, you're also sending your employer a message about the type of employee you are. You're telling them that you're a professional who takes their job and career seriously.