Sample Excuse Letters for Missing Work

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Everyone has to miss work from time to time, sometimes for illness, an appointment, or some other personal reason. Some employers ask employees for a formal letter explaining when and why they missed work. Sometimes employers want employees to write these letters before an absence, and sometimes they are written after.

Employees often also have to write excuse letters for longer leaves of absence or other extended time off.

Formal excuse letters are used in other situations too, such as an absence from jury duty or an absence from school.

Read below for tips on writing a formal excuse letter, as well as two sample letters: one sample to send an employer before you miss work and one for after.

Tips for Writing a Formal Excuse Letter

  • Follow business letter format. Use the official business letter format when writing your letter. You want this letter to be professional.
  • Understand your employer’s policies. Before you miss work, make sure you know the policy for letting your boss know that you will be absent. Know whether you need to tell your boss, and how you should get him or her that information (i.e. a phone call, a letter, an email). Also look into how far in advance you need to tell your employer.
  • Send the letter as soon as possible. If possible, send your excuse letter before you miss work. You want to give your employer time to reassign any of your tasks. If you are asking for a longer leave of absence, send this letter as early as possible. If you don’t have time to send a formal letter, consider sending an excuse email instead.
  • Keep it brief. Do not go into great detail about why you are missing work (such as a long list of your symptoms if you are sick or a detailed story about a personal problem). Instead, simply briefly state the day or days you will be absent, and explain (briefly) why.
  • Offer to help. You might consider helping make up for your absence in some way. For example, you might say that you will still be on email during your absence, or you might offer to work an extra hour or two later to complete some missed projects. If you can prepare your absence in advance, ask one or two of your colleagues or employees for help completing any assignments you will be missing. This will be particularly important when you are asking for a longer leave of absence.

    Sample Formal Excuse Letter (Before Missing Work)

    Date

    Employer's Name
    Employer's Title
    Organization
    Address
    City, State, Zip Code

    Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

    Please accept this letter as formal notification that I will be unable to attend work from September 1, 20XX to September 5, 20XX. I will be attending the professional development conference that I spoke with you about earlier this week.

    I have arranged to be on email during work hours, and I will call and check in with the office once a day to see what I missed.

    Please let me know if I can provide any further information, or if you need anything else from me to make my absence run smoothly. Thank you for allowing me to take this terrific opportunity.

    Sincerely,

    Your Signature (hard copy letter)

    Your Typed Name

    Sample Formal Excuse Letter (After Missing Work)

    Date

    Employer's Name
    Employer's Title
    Organization
    Address
    City, State, Zip Code

    Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

    Please accept this letter as formal notification that I was unable to attend work on September 1, 20XX due to illness. I have already completed the tasks for this week that I missed during my absence.

    Please let me know if I can provide any further information. Thank you for understanding.

    Sincerely,

    Your Signature (hard copy letter)

    Your Typed Name

    Sending an Email Message

    Sometimes it makes more sense to send an email message explaining your absence. For example, if you want to tell your boss as soon as possible that you will not be at work, email is the quickest way to share this information. Some employers even ask that employees alert them to absences via email.

    If you send an email message excuse for your absence, be sure to keep the email short, simply stating the dates you will be absent, and giving a brief explanation for why you will be away.

    Also be sure to include a clear subject line. You might simply write “Absence from Work” in the subject line. This clearly explains the purpose of your email to your boss.

    If you would prefer to email your excuse, here's how to send a professional email message.

    Read More: Excuses for Missing Work | Email Message and Letter Work Excuse Examples | More Absence Excuse Letters