Example of an Absence Excuse Email

What to Include in an Absence Note for Work

Man looking at thermometer in bed
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No matter how dedicated you are to your work, there's going to be a time where you need to call in sick. Whether you have come down with flu or severe migraines, if you work full-time, you're likely entitled to paid time off with sick days. But, while you may want to stay home, you may feel pressured to come into work, either because of the mountains of work on your desk or because of comments your boss has made in the past.


Whether or not sick days are truly acceptable, even when they should be, is dependent on your company culture. Taking a day off to nurse your cold can be tricky, but preparation can minimize the impact to the business and your coworkers. By taking a few steps and writing a strong excuse email message, you can maintain your professional reputation and take the time you need to recover. 

Understand the Company Policy and Your Boss' Preferences

While your company may have its own policies regarding your sick day, your manager may have a different view. Typically, companies ask employees to alert their manager about a sick day. For extended time off (more than four days) due to sickness, some companies will also require a doctor's note

Your boss may have a preference for whether you email or call to inform them that you are taking a sick day. Some managers — and companies — also prefer that a note about your absence be sent to your team, and not just your direct boss, so that all your colleagues are aware that you're unavailable.


Prepare Notes

Sickness and other emergencies can happen out of nowhere; while you cannot prepare for everything, other employees and companies should always be able to handle it if an employee misses a day, or more. You can help your colleagues by proactively keeping notes on your common tasks, daily contacts, and a running status sheet on projects you are working on.

That way, if you come down with strep throat and need a few days, your coworkers can easily take over your work that is on a tight deadline. Both your boss and coworkers will appreciate your organization and preparedness and it will minimize the impact of your absence.

If you do not have detailed notes in place, use your absence note to share details on important projects and where relevant resources can be found. 

Write a Good Excuse Note

Many companies require some kind of formal excuse note whenever you have an absence, such as a sick day or a vacation day.

Keep the note brief and professional. In the letter, state what days you were off, why you were off, and, if sent ahead of your absence, if you have asked any coworkers to take over any tasks. While you might be tempted to go over your symptoms to prove you really were sick, ignore the urge and just be straightforward. Resist as well any urge to apologize, either for being sick or for the inconvenience. 

If you are sending your note in advance of your absence, it's a good idea to share if you will be available, and the best way to reach you. We live in a smart phone era, which means that many people are constantly checking email (even when they're sitting in a paper gown in the doctor's office).

Specify if you will be checking your email, and how frequently. You might write, "I'll be checking my email occasionally." or "I'll be largely away from my email but do not hesitate to call me if there is an emergency." 

Send your note promptly. If you are sending it the day of an absence, send the email in the morning, before the official start time at your company. 

Below is an example you can use for your own absence note, and here are even more sample absence letters to review

Sample Absence Excuse Email

Subject: Jane Doe - Absent From Work

Dear Supervisor Name:

I've come down with the flu and will not be coming in on Tuesday, March 2, so I can rest and recover. I've asked Patricia to check on my clients to ensure all of their needs are met and Tom will prepare the report for our meeting Friday.

I will try and check email if you need anything urgent. 

Thank you,


Suggested Reading: How to Tell Your boss You're Sick | Excuses for Missing Work