Need To Call In Sick, But Don’t Know What To Say?


Have you ever hesitated before calling in sick? Or wondered how specific you should be when explaining your sickness? You are not alone, and help is available. Don't go out of your way to give specifics and do set expectations, experts say. If you have a bad stomach and have spent the night in the toilet, be discreet about how much to share.

While some people are hesitant to share the personal reasons they need a last-minute day off, others may overexplain in order to prove they are being honest,

But you don't need to reveal all the gory details when you call out sick.

"You don't have to prove your illness to anyone," said Vicki Salemi, career expert at

And let's get one thing out of the way: If you are sick, stay home. There's no reason to risk getting your co-workers sick or prolonging your own recovery. And there shouldn't be any guilt in taking time off to get well.

Follow the sick-leave etiquette below.

Be brief

Less is more when it comes to sharing details about your ailment or personal business with your boss.

"Say as little as possible without being cryptic," suggested Karen Friedman, a leadership and communication expert.

Acknowledge bad timing

What if the timing of your sick day is pretty suspect, but you are legitimately ill? Like calling out after the Super Bowl, a holiday weekend, or the office holiday party?

Acknowledge the coincidental timing, but hold firm.

Be realistic

Set expectations of your availability in your sick note.

If you are in the right frame of mind to answer emails or texts, you can include that you plan to check in periodically. If not, don't be shy about saying you won't be available

Inform on a need-to-know basis

our very brief and to-the-point sick note should be sent to your boss and anyone else who might be affected by your absence.

Then send a follow-up email to your colleagues with any applicable documents or information they may need to continue to work.

Put your boss at ease

Bosses should be respectful of your need for time off, but an important project or client meeting can make them uneasy and push you to come in.

Offer a little reassurance, but don't feel obligated to give more details.


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