Don't let a sick day ruin your reputation

We all get sick. Unfortunately it’s a fact of life. When you get struck down by a bug, your best bet is to follow doctors’ advice and stay home from work to protect your colleagues from your germs.

But in recent years, sick days, or personal days, have had some bad press – often due to the unscrupulous operators who take a sickie simply because they feel like a day out of the office.

It’s not fair, but it’s a reality. You may be allocated a certain number of sick days, but doesn’t mean you get to take them for no reason. 

If you’re genuinely unwell, follow our tips on how to call in sick to avoid a reputation for taking unwarranted sickies.

Understand expectations

Most organisations, and most managers, have a different take on sick days. It’s up to you to understand your rights and obligations. Often a medical certificate is required – even for a single day off. And ask your manager how they would prefer to be contacted in the event you are sick. Remember, not everyone is happy to receive the news via text message.

You might like: Stop sending the wrong signals with bad body language.

Don’t procrastinate

The sooner your manager or colleagues know you aren’t coming in, the sooner they can make plans to cover the workload. There’s no need to wake someone out of a deep sleep but try to make contact at least an hour before your scheduled starting time.


You can’t control the fact you are sick, but in reality your absence may cause some inconvenience. An apology for the inconvenience sends a message that you understand your responsibilities.

Take care of business

If you have any meetings scheduled, let the participants know that you can’t make it, or ask someone to step in on your behalf. Let your manager know if there are any pending deadlines or work that needs to be covered by someone else. There is an art to delegating, make sure you follow it. And if you have remote access, log on and put an out-of-office message on your email.

Say thank you

When you get back to the office, take a moment to find out what happened and who covered things in your absence. Show you appreciate their efforts and your colleagues will be likely to be happy to step up for you again in the future.

Tips on calling in sick:

• Find out how your manager wants to be contacted and don’t leave a message with a colleague

• Don’t wait until you are due in the office to let people know you are sick

• Make sure your responsibilities are reallocated

• Thank those who helped cover your workload

Do you avoid sick days because you’re worried people will think you are faking? Share your experience by commenting below.


Subscribe to The Naked CEO weekly newsletter



Most Popular

8 ways you should never describe yourself in a job application

8 ways you should never describe yourself in a job application

8 words that could cost you the job you want

Eight words that could cost you the job you want

7 questions to avoid asking in a job interview

7 questions to avoid asking in a job interview

To join the conversation, please login to comment.