Sample Sickness Excuse Letters and Emails

woman nursing a cold at home
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Everyone gets sick now and then. Occasionally, you might even have to miss a day or two of work. When this happens, you need to let your employer know as soon as possible to avoid negative consequences for your job and career.

When you miss work because you are sick, you should follow the procedures specified by your manager, or outlined by the human resources department and your employee handbook. Typically, an employer will require you to alert your boss by letter, email, or phone call.

Even if it is not required, it is a good idea to tell your boss about your absence as soon as possible.

Putting this message into writing (either via letter or email) is often best. Learn how to notify your boss about your absence, and read sample excuse letters and emails.

Understand Company Policy and Your Boss's 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. This is to confirm that you have a legitimate excuse for taking sick leave.

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

How to Notify Your Boss

Whether it is required or not, it’s a good idea to put your sickness absence excuse in writing. That way you have a record of what transpired, and your manager can easily document the absence.

If you have to miss work due to a sudden illness, you should make every attempt to notify your supervisor as soon as possible. A quick phone call, text, or email to let them know that you are unable to be at your job that day is an absolute priority. Use whatever method is preferred in your office.

When you return to work, you should then provide a formal absence excuse letter or email, along with any supporting documentation (doctor’s note, ER evaluation, etc.).

What to Include in the Letter or Email

Use business letter format. When writing a letter, follow business letter format. Include your contact information, the date, and the contact information of your employer. Then, begin the content of your letter with an appropriate salutation.

Explain why you are writing. Include the reason for your absence, and mention if you have any documentation. Include the date(s) of your absence as well. However, keep this part of your letter brief.

You do not need to go into all the details of your symptoms.

Be clear but concise. Then, end with a professional closing and your signature.

Make sure your email is professional. When writing an email, keep your message just as professional as any business correspondence. You can leave the date and contact information out of the top of the message. Include the same content, but underneath your signature, include your contact information.

Include your name in the subject line. Fill in the subject line with your name and your reason for writing. For example, your subject line might simply be “Firstname Lastname – Absence” or "Firstname Lastname - Sick Day."

Proofread your message. Whether you write an email or a letter, be sure to proofread your message before you send it. Yes, you are sick, but this is still a professional message. You want your writing to be clear and polished.

Examples of Sickness Excuse Emails

Here are some sample absence excuse emails to use as a guide for when you miss work due to illness, or if you know you won't be able to come to work on the next day or beyond.

Email Notification of Absence

Subject: Mary White Absence

Dear Mr. Grey,

Please accept this written notification of my absence on August 25, 2020. I am unable to attend work due to sickness.

If you need additional information, please let me know.


Mary White

Email Excuse With Documentation

Subject: Joe Brown - Absence June 3, 2020

Dear Steve,

I am writing to document my absence due to illness on June 3, 2020. I was unable to report to work due to an acute attack of food poisoning. Please see the attached report of my treatment at Urgent Care.



Advance Notice 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 Monday, August 31, 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,


Examples of Sickness Excuse Letters

Here are some sample absence excuse letters to use as a guide when you need to provide a written excuse for missing work because of sickness. Use these examples as templates for your own letter. Remember to change the letter so that it fits your particular circumstances.

Formal Sickness Excuse Letter

Your Name
City, State Zip Code


Contact Name
Company Name
City, State, Zip Code

Dear Ms. Lastname:

Please accept this letter as written notification that I was unable to attend work on Monday, April 8, 2020, due to sickness. I was ill and unable to report to work on that date.

Please let me know if I can provide any further information.


Your Signature (hard copy letter)

Your Typed Name

Formal Letter Documenting Absence

Your Name
City, State Zip Code


Contact Name
City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr. Lastname,

Please accept this letter as documentation of my absence from March 2 through March 6, 2020, due to sickness. I have included my doctor’s note detailing his recommendation for hospital treatment due to complications from the flu. I have also enclosed the hospital discharge instructions.

If I can provide any additional information, please let me know. Thank you for your understanding.


Your Signature (hard copy letter)

Your Typed Name

The Bottom Line

Know Company Policy: Your organization may have specific rules for how and when to notify your manager.

Tell Your Boss as Soon as Possible: Your manager may have preferences beyond what is required by your company.

Don’t Go Into Detail: No one needs to know the specifics. Keep it brief and professional.