How to Call Out Sick from Work: Tips and Templates

Published: Jul 02, 2024

 Workplace Issues       
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With the Fourth of July right around the corner, employers all over the U.S. are preparing for the inevitability of employees calling out sick on July 5th. Yes friends, there are many days throughout the year that are popular for “sudden illnesses,” and since these days are so often taken advantage of it can sometimes feel unsafe to call out when you’re actually sick. Today we’re going to talk about how to call out sick from work like a professional, along with some days to watch out for.

How to Call Out Sick

Depending on your employer, there may be certain protocols to follow when calling out sick. For instance, your employer might prefer a phone call over an email (this is often the case), or they might require a doctor’s note if you’re out of work for longer than three days. They may also want you to contact a specific person when calling out sick. If you’re unsure, you can refer to your employee handbook or ask a human resources representative.

Whenever you need to call out sick, it’s best to give your employer as much notice as possible. For example, if you start running a temperature the evening before the next workday, you should try reaching out to the contact person right away. In the event you wake up feeling under the weather you may still call out sick, but you should do so as early as possible.

If you are able to, you should also contact other members of your team and notify them of any assignments, projects, or meetings you’re going to miss so they can provide coverage when necessary. You may also ask a coworker to take notes for you if you’re going to miss a particularly important meeting.

It’s also worth mentioning that you can request to take on certain tasks remotely in the event you’re calling out sick from work, but only do so if you think you’ll be able to complete them or make any meaningful progress. Below is an example of a phone call in which an employee is calling out sick from work:

“Hi [Name of Contact Person], this is [Your Name]. I’m calling to let you know that I’m not feeling well today and won’t be able to come in to work. I’ve come down with a [bad cold/flu] and have been experiencing symptoms of a fever and sore throat since last night. I’m going to see my doctor today and I will keep you updated. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do from home.”

It’s best to keep it short and to the point, and keep in mind that the contact person will interject during the phone call, so you won’t just be firing off a paragraph’s worth of information as soon as they answer the phone. Most importantly, maintain a high level of professionalism, and resist the urge to "show” your illness through repeated coughs or a change in your voice, as it will only make you seem suspicious.

Lastly, you can set up out-of-office messages on your phone and email if you think you’re going to be absent from work for more than one day. This will let anyone trying to contact you know that you’re unavailable and that you’ll respond as soon as you’re able to. Check out this example of an out-of-office message for email:


Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office and will not be available until [date]. During this time, please contact [Alternative Contact’s Name] at [Alternative Contact’s Email Address] or [Alternative Contact’s Phone Number]. Otherwise, I will respond to your email as soon as possible upon my return.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,

[Your Name]
[Your Position]
[Your Company]
[Your Contact Information]

Here is an example of an out-of-office message for your voicemail greeting:

“Hello, this is [Your Name] from [Your Company]. I am currently out of the office and will not be available until [date]. If you need immediate assistance, please contact [Alternative Contact’s Name] at [Alternative Contact’s Phone Number]. Otherwise, please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible when I return.

Thank you for your understanding and have a great day.”

The Worst Days to Call Out Sick

There are certain days throughout the year that are considered to be somewhat dangerous when it comes to calling out sick from work. One such day is the Monday that follows Superbowl Sunday. On that day, employers are likely to assume that employees who called out sick were acting irresponsibly on Superbowl Sunday and are unwilling to attend work as a result, rather than being unable to due to an illness.

Other similar days are July 5th and days that directly follow major holidays. In addition to this, consistently calling out on Mondays or Fridays might cause certain employers to raise their eyebrows. If you want to take full advantage of days such as Superbowl Sunday or July 4th, be sure to put your PTO in as early as possible. Of course, we can’t control when we get sick and it’s quite possible that you might wind up legitimately calling out sick on a Monday or a day that follows a holiday, but if you follow the protocols outlined by your employer and you’re a model employee, you won’t have anything to worry about.