You need a break from work.

Without it, you won’t be very productive in the long run.

This is understandable and it is the reason employers give their employees leave. Leave is meant to provide a season of rest from work.

There are different types of leave. Although some employers can give more types, the most common are annual and sick leaves.

Annual leave is given every year to the employees who are entitled to have it.

This might mean having worked at the company for a set number of months.

Or maybe just having fulfilled any of the requirements provided.

Sick leave comes in handy when an employee falls sick and can’t come to work.

They therefore apply for a sick leave and get back to work once they are well.

But what happens when you are not sick yet you need a day or two off?

You have probably exhausted your number of annual leave days for the year.

What do you do?

Many resort to lying that they are sick so as to get that extra day off.

Whereas that has worked for many, some have also been caught in the vice. As expected, the consequences followed.

This trend has actually been very popular and one survey by CareerBuilder showed that such cases are on the rise.

  • In 2016, 35% of employees surveyed feigned sickness to get off duty. In 2017, the figure rose to 40%.
  • Despite the employees having a paid time off program, 28% of them still called in sick though they weren’t.
  • 38% of employers have checked on sick workers. Out of those, 26% have fired at least one employee for lying.

If you are an employee thinking of doing the same, it would be good to consider what would have happened if you were the employer.

Have some empathy and understand that the business would suffer.

Despite all the reasoning behind fake excuses, lying remains to be wrong.

If your employer is not giving you enough time off, then you can check with the labor department concerning that matter.

All in all, the main issue is the communication of your planned absence.

What is your company’s sick leave policy?

Every company has policies which guide its decision making.

This includes a sick leave policy detailing how to go about applying for a sick leave.

In many cases, you will be required to communicate as soon as possible when you intend to be off duty. Upon return, you might have to come with a doctor’s note.

This will be the evidence that you were truly sick.

Some of the things you need to know about your company’s sick leave policy are:

1. How do you communicate? – the lack of communication is always a cause of many problems. If you are sick and won’t be making it to work, the least you can do is communicate about it. This should also be done soonest possible to allow for proper planning.

2. How do you apply for the leave? – there will be procedures to be followed when applying for leave. Your company’s procedures may not necessarily be the same as your former employer’s. It is therefore necessary to familiarize yourself with them.

In most organizations, this is easy since they issue a copy of the relevant policies to every new employee. If you got these but never read them, now will be a good time to do so.

3. Is there a maximum number of days you can take? – just as annual leave has a set number of days which can be taken, so it is with the sick leave. Different employers may give different number of days. Check with HR to be sure.

4. Are the days taken off work payable? – this is very important. Many employees have complained about this yet they are the ones who operated in ignorance. Avoid getting into an unnecessary fight with your employer over this due to lack of knowledge.

You may paint a negative picture of yourself and hurt your career progress at the company.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

In the US, all eligible employees of companies subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act are entitled to sick leave. This leave is job-protected and provides 12 workweeks in any particular year.

Among a variety of reasons for the leave covered under this act, you can be allowed to go on leave for childbirth or adoption processes.

You can also take leave for the sake of caring for a sick spouse and children.

More details can be found here. A quick mention though, payment for the days off is not guaranteed.

If you fall sick, you can communicate the same and stay at home till recovery.

But what if you are not sick?

You may have other reasons as to why you want to take a day off.

Maybe you want to take care of something personal.

As a rule of thumb, it is best to be honest.

But if you are sure your employer or manager is not considerate, then you may look for an appropriate reason to give.

Yet the biggest challenge comes when you are about to communicate the same.


Communicating that you will not be showing up at work is not easy.

Even when you are sincerely unwell, there will always be that fear that your boss may think you are lying.

Such fears can be worsened by a bad working relationship with your boss.

Here is an easy route out of the situation. Just follow the steps in their order and you will be done faster than you know.

Since in most cases the permission is granted without much questioning and suspicion, you will be surprised at how easy this was.

Read on to learn the steps.

Communicate as Early as Possible

As mentioned, communication is key.

In fact, communication is so important that it keeps teams and organizations running successfully.

Without it there would be chaos.

Communication is not just the passing of information from one person to another.

There is more to it than that. For there to be communication, there must be listening and understanding.

And this is from both parties.

Watch the below short video for some tips you can apply when making that phone call.

One crucial aspect of communication is timing. Communicating at the right time is probably the most important thing. Especially when calling to say you won’t be in.

Remember that there is work to be done and you have your own work pile to deal with. If you don’t show up, that work may stay pending.

But since it has to be handled for the sake of progress, won’t it be better if it was divided among those present?

Yet it would be very unfortunate for your team if they learned about your absence 2 hours after they have settled on their desks.

They have planned their day and started working only to receive more work which was meant to be done by you.

It is therefore best to ensure you communicate earliest possible.

Unless your absence has been occasioned by something that came up suddenly, try to communicate the previous evening. Or first thing in the morning.

Here are the two people, or kinds of people you need to call immediately.

1. Your colleagues – although many people advise that the first person to call should be your boss, you should actually start with your colleagues. If the first person to call is your boss, you are essentially telling him to deal with your absence. That is not very responsible.

When you call your colleagues first, you get the opportunity to sort out everything about your work. Remember you were hired so that your work gets done. As far as your boss is concerned, the job you do is taken care of. So why should he find out that it isn’t?

Take some time and think of the best person(s) to handle your work. Talk to them then allocate accordingly. Ensure that your absence from work will have the least impact on the day’s performance.

2. Your boss or manager – now to your boss, or the person above you. The first thing to remember is that this is your boss, not your colleague. Secondly, what you are about to tell him was not expected and you do not know how he will react.

With that in mind, you want to be very strategic in your communication.

What is your boss’ preferred way of communication? Is it email, text or phone call?

If your boss prefers emails and you know he checks them, send him one quickly. If he prefers a text message, send it. If calls, then pick up your phone and make the call.

Obviously, you might feel fearful and uncertain. Do not allow those feelings to distract your mind. If they are really getting the better of you, just stop thinking about them, dial his number and call.

For the sake of preparing you, step number two tells you how to communicate about the situation.

Be Brief and to the Point

Most bosses do not like many details, especially if the details are not very helpful. Bosses are mostly decision makers and they are often short on time.

They are interested in knowing that everything is working well.

If you are therefore coming with some “bad” news, make it brief.

Do not start creating an atmosphere for him to understand the situation.

For example, your child may have been required to report to school with his parents.

While communicating this, don’t start telling your boss how you noticed your child was not acting properly during breakfast, prompting you to ask him what the matter was.

Only for him to say “nothing.” But you knew there was something so you insisted and then he broke the news.

Doing this will be wasting your boss’ time.

No matter how much he likes you, your boss is at work, or headed there. He is not interested in your breakfast dialogue with your child.

If the preferred mode of communication is text or email, then this should be easy for you.

But if he prefers calls, then you know there is the possibility of being asked some questions.

In any case, just give direct answers with no explanations unless they make sense.

With our example, you could say, “I’m sorry I won’t be able to come in today. I’ve just been informed that I’m required at my son’s school. I have spoken with Mike and Jane and they will take care of what I was to work on today.”

The most important part of your communication should not be the reason for your absence, but the fact that you have arranged for your work to be handled.

This will show your boss that you are mature and responsible.

Good traits which he might remember and hopefully use for a promotion.

Are you available?

In your absence from work, you may be able to work from home.

This is obviously dependent on the reason you are not going to work.

With our example above, it may not be possible.

But if you are, say, having a flu, you might actually be able to perform some tasks while at home.

The same applies if you were having a doctor’s appointment.

Maybe you will return home early enough to be able to reduce the workload.

Or it could be that you can attend some meetings through video conferencing, if your company does that.

Your availability does not necessarily have to be in the office. If you can do something to help with the work, you should mention it.

As we have already seen, the first people to discuss this with are your colleagues. If you will be available, mention it to your boss too. Tell him you’ll be able to handle some things from home.

Unless he asks what tasks you can handle from home, do not bother telling him.

And of course, always give the assurance that you will be available on phone if needed.

This shows your commitment to your job and your willingness to make it easy for your colleagues to cover for you.

Give Important Work-Related Information

The last thing you have to do is share critical information pertaining to your work.

If someone will be handling something you usually work on, tell them what they need to know so as to do the job correctly.

If there were any meetings scheduled, for example, brief the person sitting in for you.

Let them know as much as possible and advise them on what they should ask, get or clarify during the meeting.

If it is the kind of work requiring some documents, explain where the documents are. Explain what is to be done with what and ask them to return the documents where they should be.

Some precaution should also be taken during your absence from work.


After the successful communication of your absence and having been given the “okay,” there are things you should avoid doing.

The last thing you want to do is show disrespect for the permission granted.

Since you may have some free time after sorting out the issue you had, make sure you are careful to keep the below things in mind.

Do Not Go on Social Media

This is an obvious one though still worth mentioning.

This is especially important to remember in case you called in sick, yet the sickness was a lie.

It can be a big undoing for you if you were apparently sick in the morning, yet in the afternoon were basking on the beach.

Posting such a picture on your social accounts will not only anger your colleagues, but can have serious effects.

It will paint the picture of being out to use others while enjoying yourself.

Unless you are legally on holiday, you will be better off staying away from social media.

In the event that you did not give sickness as a reason, would it be okay to be on social media?


Consider that your colleagues are doing your work. Taking to social media will have the effect of making your colleagues feel used. And they might not like it.

Respect their efforts and show appreciation by acting right.

Do Not Share Your Login Credentials

This is a common mistake done by many people in an effort to ensure their colleagues have the easiest time possible working on their tasks.

It may be that a document is available on your work computer and it’s needed by a colleague. Instead of giving out your password, you will be better off giving it to someone in IT.

With IT having your password, then it is for them to control its use. You can advise them to share certain documents with your colleague then switch off your computer.

Just ensure that you change the password when you resume work.

Passwords are usually the weakest point in a network where non-IT employees are concerned. While some use passwords like “123456,” other use more difficult ones but use them for multiple accounts.

Of course there is the usual challenge of being able to remember many complex passwords. To take care of this, consider investing in a password manager. One of the best is called Lastpass.

This is not a matter of not trusting your colleagues, or suspecting them. It is about staying safe.

You may trust your colleague very much but then he logs in and leaves your account open. You may never know what someone else could do.

Take this as a preventive measure.

It would be a good idea if your company had a policy touching on such matters.

You may want to check with HR or IT on this.

Do Not Switch Your Phone Off

Whether you said you are available or not, it is good to keep your phone on.

Anything could happen at work. The very clear instructions you gave may be forgotten.

The notebook on which the instructions were written may get misplaced.

Staying on keeps everything flowing.

Furthermore, it makes it easy for your colleagues to handle your work. If they can contact you, they will not complain of hitting a wall while trying their best to do your job.

In fact, staying on gives you the opportunity to talk to them about how things are going and encourage them if they are feeling tired.

You will also update them on your status which will most likely be of their interest.

You might also remember something you never mentioned earlier and need to communicate it. It is therefore a win-win for both you and your colleagues.


Now that you have learned the right way to call out of work, do it confidently and take care of whatever issue came up.

This is the Right Way to Call Out of Work

Comments are closed.