How to Call in Sick from Work

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Everyone has bad days from time to time. You have a stomach bug or a cold, are experiencing symptoms of a long-term health condition, or simply require a day off for your mental health. Knowing the procedure for calling in sick assists you and your employer in navigating the workday and allowing you to recover. Here's how to make a sick call.


Brief Overview of Calling Out of Work

Because going to work sick can spread illness to others, you should avoid arriving at work sneezing and coughing. A sick day begins with informing your boss or human resources department that you will be absent for the day.

Before you call in sick, consult your employee handbook or ask human resources about your company's sick leave policy. Some companies provide paid sick leave, while others only provide unpaid leave. If you need a mental health day due to burnout, instead of calling in sick, request a personal day from your vacation days.

When you miss work, federal law may protect you in some cases. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to take several months off work if they meet certain criteria, but it does not cover regular sick time. Your state or city may also have specific safeguards.


When to Call in Sick

Knowing when to call in sick will assist you and your team in covering work while you are absent. Your employer may allow you to work from home until you recover from your illness if you are capable of doing remote work.

When you have physical illness symptoms, call in sick: If you have a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throat, coughing, or other physical symptoms, call in sick to work to avoid potentially spreading the virus to your coworkers. If your symptoms are mild, consider wearing a face mask in public.

You require a mental health day: If you suffer from a mental health condition such as burnout, stress-related anxiety, or depression, taking a personal day off or taking a vacation day can help alleviate symptoms. Consider seeking help from a mental health professional if your mental health symptoms are overwhelming or persistent.

Your symptoms make it difficult for you to complete work tasks: Even if you are able to work from home, certain symptoms may prevent you from doing so. A migraine or fever, for example, may prevent you from working on the computer.


How to Call in Sick

When you start feeling ill, follow these steps to properly and professionally call in sick:

1. Inform your boss as soon as possible. Inform your employer as soon as possible that you will be taking the day off.

2. Be clear and concise. Avoid giving a lengthy explanation about your illness or any upcoming doctor's appointments. Simply inform them that you are ill and will be absent for the day.

3. Select the appropriate mode of communication. Your company may have policies in place regarding how to notify your supervisor if you become ill. Your boss may prefer an email, phone call, voicemail, or text message requesting a sick day. If you become ill at the last minute, choose the quickest possible alert method.

4. Get ready for your return. If you intend to be absent for a number of days, your employer may request documentation, such as a doctor's note. Inform your supervisor and team members of any information you may have missed, as well as the duties you must complete when you return.


What Should You Say When You Call in Sick?

When you call in sick, you should be professional and open about your condition. Keep your message brief and avoid over-dramatizing your symptoms. For instance, you could say something like:


Mr. Peterson, my name is Mary. I woke up with a fever and a sore throat this morning, so I won't be able to come to work today. Please call me at home if you have any questions, and I will return to work tomorrow. Thank you very much.


What to Do After Calling in Sick

After you've called in sick, consider the following additional steps:

1. Maintain open lines of communication with your team members. Depending on your position, you may be required to notify other team members that you will be absent from work. There may be jobs or projects that require the assistance of another employee, as well as activities that can be completed remotely.

2. Create an out-of-office message. Set an automatic email response message and voicemail message indicating that you will be unavailable for the day if anyone attempts to contact you. Explain that you'll respond as soon as you get back to work.

3. Clean up your work area. When you feel well enough to return, clean your desk and work area to remove any remaining germs. Consider wearing a face mask as well.

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