How to Call in Sick to Work

by Katie Sawyer, 6 minutes read
HOME blog how to call in sick to work

How to Call in Sick to Work

We’ve all been there (some more than others) you wake up with a headache, your body feels weak, and you think you might puke. You’re sick and you know you won’t be able to make it to work today, let alone be productive. So you’re pondering ways to call your manager and get the day off without them thinking that you’re a liar or for chewing you out for missing a day.

Well, never fear!

I’m going to lay out how to successfully call in sick without losing your job or pissing off your manager. (Disclaimer: If you’re not sick and just hungover, please disregard this post and go to work like a responsible adult.)

1. Check your Employee Handbook

Before you start practicing your sick voice, make sure that you search through your employee handbook or online portal to better understand your company’s policy on sick days and calling in sick in general. Many companies have a certain amount of sick days they offer their employees each year. If that’s the case for your company, then make sure you’re aware of how many days you have left for the year so you don’t end up being fired or written up for taking an extra day off. If you’re not sure of how many days you have left, then make sure to start off your phone call, text, or email by asking about the number of days you have left.

If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that uses an online portal, then you should be able to view the number of sick days you have left somewhere in the site.

2. Get your Shift Covered

One way to avoid the awkward conversation all together is to get a coworker to cover your shift. This way, your boss isn’t concerned that you aren’t there and you don’t have to feel guilty about causing any problems. That said, don’t think that your co-workers will be jumping at the chance to take your shift. You’re infringing on their free time and will have to do some convincing to get them to cover you. One way is to offer to take one of their later shifts so they can also get a day off out of the deal, you can also offer some money as a reward for anyone that takes the shift off your hands.

How to Call in Sick to Work

If your workplace doesn’t have a means for employees to swap shifts with one another, then you should send your manager a link to Deputy, employee scheduling software that makes it easy for coworkers to swap shifts and to send bulk group messages asking to get their shifts covered. If you want to learn more, click on the button below to start your free trial.


3. Call, Text, or Email?

You know better than me what your manager’s preferred form of communication is. Every company has their own methods and it would be best to contact them however they prefer to be contacted. That said, don’t try to text or email when you know you should pick up the phone and call. Your manager is going to be bothered regardless, so you should do yourself (and management) a favor by calling and getting it over with.

4. Tips for Making the Call

How to Call in Sick to Work

If you know that it’s going to be a slower day at work, than you don’t have much to worry about. If you know that it’s scheduled to be one of the busier days and that they’ll be a line of customers out the door, then you should be in full freak out mode (not really!). Although it sucks making the call when you know your company needs you, keep in mind that coming into work and getting your co-workers sick is much worse than just missing a day. This is doubly worse if you work in food service and have the possibility of spreading your sickness to the food.

That said, you’re going to want to sound as sick as possible so that you sound convincing over the phone. If not, then you risk your boss thinking you’re faking and denying your sick day.

The following are a number of tips that will have you sounding really sick in no time! (Disclaimer: You totally shouldn’t be using any of these strategies if you’re just faking so that you can get out of work.)

  • Make sure that you’re in a quiet area and not a bar or some other public place with lots of background noise.

  • Try not to call in sick on Mondays or Fridays. Although you have no control over when you’re sick or how long you’ll feel sick, keep in mind that calling in sick on either of those two days may have your employer thinking that you’re really just looking for a long weekend.

  • Don’t delay, make the call as soon as you can so you can get it over with and can focus on resting and feeling better. It also gives your boss more time to figure out what they’re going to do about the situation. Your voice is also more likely to sound rougher right after you woke up, thus making you sound more believable.

  • Talk slower and softer than how you typically would so that you sound weaker.

  • Be prepared for questions! Your boss may want to know more about your level of sickness to determine whether you’re able to come in or not. Make sure to stress that it is indeed contagious and that you’re in the process of scheduling a doctor’s appointment.

  • Include plenty of coughs and sniffles, but not so much that you sound dramatic, just enough to sound believable.

  • Make sure to apologize profusely for the inconvenience.

5. Stay off Social Media!

You’d be surprised to know the number of people that were fired for posting pictures of them sipping mimosas on the beach on the same day they called in sick. Do yourself a favor and stay off all social media unless you want to repost a funny meme on how much it sucks being sick. So if you were ever in a predicament where you lied about being sick and went to a concert instead (which is something you totally would never do) do yourself a favor and don’t upload those pictures until after a couple of days or weeks so you don’t raise any red flags.

How to Call in Sick to Work

6. Get Ready to Work When You Come Back

Although being sick is completely out of your hands, you should still make sure to go the extra mile and work hard whenever you make it back to work. Whether or not people doubt your honesty, getting back to work will usually calm their suspicions and get them off your case.

Last thoughts

Calling in sick is a nerve-racking experience for all employees. You hate being an inconvenience for your employer and your coworkers, but that still shouldn’t stop you from making the call and getting the day off. You risk infecting your coworkers as well as any food products that your company may serve, which would end up being a much bigger loss for your company than you missing a single day of work. So suck it up, contact your manager, and focus on getting better so you can hit the ground running when you come back.

Speaking of contacting your manager, a great way to get them to forget about your sick day is by mentioning how your employee scheduling procedures need an overhaul in the form of a software platform that expedites the process of building employee schedules as well as sending them out. If they want to know more, tell them to click on the link below to begin their free trial of using Deputy.