How to Call in Sick to Work

It eventually happens to everyone: you are legitimately sick or just need a mental health day off from work. But for one reason or another, it’s eluding you just how to call in sick to work.

Fortunately, it’s not very difficult if you’re feeling bad, burnt out, or want to fake being sick and just play hooky. All you need to do is follow some simple steps and you’ll easily be able to call in sick to work and take off that day you need (or want). If you want to know how to call in sick to work, consider taking the following steps:

  • Contact your boss ASAP
  • Sound the part
  • Know your days
  • Go dark on social media -- and real life
  • Keep it to yourself
  • Be prepared for a counteroffer

Get the rundown on what it takes to call in sick to work when you’re feeling run down or just need a break.

Contact Your Boss ASAP

If you know you’re calling in sick, don’t wait until you’re already supposed to be in the office. Calling early is essential.  Call or send an email to your boss or supervisor as early as you know you’ll be able to get in touch with them and tell them. This helps both of you out: you will be able to get the rest you need and your boss will be able to better prepare for your absence.

Also, try to be as personable as possible, but keep the phone call, text or email to the bare minimum. Tell them specifically what your illness is and when you expect to be back to work, but you don’t need to tell your boss or human resources representative every last detail or symptom of your health conditions. Those are just more things you’ll have to remember if it comes up again.

Sound the PartSound the Part

No one wants to sound weak to others, but when you feel sick, putting on a brave voice could be a negative. Make sure you actually sound like you’re feeling bad; you don’t want to give anyone at work a reason to think you’re calling in for the heck of it - whether you are or not.

This shouldn’t be too difficult if you make the call first thing in the morning when you wake up. A rough, scratchy voice certainly makes it sound like you’re feeling under the weather.

Prepare for Some Inquiries

Most of the time, you might just hear, “Feel better and we’ll see you tomorrow.” But it’s also very possible when taking sick leave that your job will want to know more. If you’re really sick, it’s as easy as just describing your symptoms and leaving it at that. If you’re faking sick, you want to make sure to have a good excuse in hand - and stick to it! It might be wise to be prepared to offer a doctor’s note. 

When at work the next day, you might be asked about more specifics. Just have your story straight and you should be good to go.

Know Your Days

Whether you’re taking a physical or mental health day, chances are you’d still like to get paid. Make sure you have sick time available to use and you’re using them in accordance with your company’s leave policy. Or maybe your company has made the transition to Personal Time Off (PTO), which combines sick time and vacation days This bank of time can usually be used in any fashion and is just what the name implies - personal time for you to take off regardless of the reason. You still have to be conscientious in the manner you use it, but otherwise, you should be good to go.

You’d still like it to be a paid sick day, no one wants to take a financial hit of an unpaid day off.

Go Dark on Social Media - and Real Life

No one is saying you can’t check your social media feeds. But whatever you do, you should stay away from posting anything there. This is especially true if you’re taking a mental health day or playing hooky. The last thing you want is to come in the next day after calling out and having co-workers ask how your trip to the movies was because you checked in there on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Even if you’re legitimately sick, a harmless picture of yourself at the grocery store will only cast doubt on whether or not you were truly ill enough to miss work.

Taking it a step further, even limit your normal social life. You don’t want word getting back to your job that you were seen out and didn’t look that sick. Maybe plan on quiet activities at home to help you recover physically or just get right mentally to take that possibility out of the equation.

Keeping it to Yourself

You were sick - or not - and now you’re back at work. Besides the questions your boss might ask you, your co-workers may want to know where you were at or what illness you had. Whether they do or not, don’t offer many details. Stick to exactly what you said when you called in the day before and don’t add anything. The less they know, the better off your call-in will have gone.

Be Prepared for a CounterofferBe Prepared for a Counteroffer

Even though you want to stay home, you might have an important logistics account executive project or task with a hard deadline that cannot be passed off to anyone else. Your boss might ask if you could still get some work done from your sick bed to help the company meet its goals. You know your work environment better than anyone, so gauge what you should feel responsible for and what you shouldn’t.

Conversely, you could also offer to work from home. Either way, be prepared to have to possibly pitch in something before you can get your rest or relaxation.

How to call into work sick might not be the easiest thing to do, but with these tips, you shouldn’t have any problem getting the time off you need.

So the next time you need to be off, you’re now equipped with the tools to more effectively do so.


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