How To Call Out of Work (Reasons, Tips and Examples)

Updated March 10, 2023

Whether you’re working full or part-time, there will likely be occasions when you need to miss work. Most employers understand that you may need to call out of work or leave early for a variety of reasons such as addressing personal matters, medical issues, family-related emergencies and taking care of your home. While missing work occasionally is often expected, there are certain ways you can take time off respectfully, reducing the impact on your work, supervisor and colleagues.

In this article, we'll go over some acceptable reasons for missing work and list tips and examples that'll guide you on how to call out of work.

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What are some reasons for calling out of work?

Requests to miss work typically fall into one of these categories:

  • Medical: It’s usually a good idea to call out of work for illnesses such as fever, flu or upset stomach. Employers want to keep their other employees well, so calling out of work for these reasons can actually benefit your company in addition to helping you recover. Other acceptable medical reasons for calling out of work include injury or a doctor’s appointment.

  • Emergency: Some urgent, non-medical reasons to call out of work may include an emergency home repair, like a flood or fire, or a death in the family.

  • Personal: If your employer offers you personal days to use throughout the year, you can usually take them without having to give a specific reason. You may be able to use personal days to complete an important task or simply rest at home.

No matter your reason, you should make yourself aware of your company’s time-off policy. If you’re unsure, consider meeting with your company’s HR representative for more information.

Related: Good and Bad Reasons for Missing Work

Tips on how to call out of work

If you need to contact your employer to call out of work, you might find it helpful to use the follow these tips:

  1. Pick the best method of contact

  2. Be prompt

  3. Keep it brief

  4. Offer solutions

  5. Get ready to return

  6. Work hard when you get back to work

1. Pick the best method of contact

When calling out of work, it’s important to contact your employer in the way they are most likely to quickly receive it. For instance, if you work in a restaurant where managers don’t have quick access to email, a phone call is probably best. However, if you work in an office and your boss is away for the week, it might be more effective to email or text. Most importantly, if your company has a specific policy about calling out of work, make sure to follow it.

Related: How to Write a Professional Email

2. Be prompt

If you call out of work, letting your supervisor know about your absence as soon as possible allows them to plan to have your work covered if necessary. For example, if you know your cold is going to keep you out of work, let your employer know the night before instead of waiting until the morning. If your child has a school holiday coming up, you can ask to take that day as a personal day one or two weeks before. If you don’t know until the same day you won’t be coming in, make contact as soon as you can, preferably early in the morning.

3. Keep it brief

It’s usually best to give your employer only the most basic details of why you need to miss work. Be sure to express an interest in getting back to work soon, and offer a means of assisting those who will be impacted by your absence.

Related: How to Write a Sick Leave Letter (With Template and Example)

4. Offer solutions

Sometimes the work you would miss by taking a sick day or personal day needs to be completed in your absence—especially if you work in shifts. To make sure your responsibilities are taken care of, consider asking a colleague to fill in for you. For instance, if you work for a package delivery service, ask someone else on your team to cover your route. If you’re staying home for a non-emergency reason and are able to do your work from a computer, you could also ask your employer if you can work from home.

Setting an automated out-of-office email response can also let your clients, coworkers and other associates know what to expect from your absence and how to contact you while you’re out, if possible.

Here’s an example of an out-of-office auto-reply:


Thank you for contacting me. I’m out of the office today, so please expect a delay in my reply. If your message requires immediate attention, please contact my colleague Yolanda Perez at

I will be back in the office with regular hours on Friday, May 15th.

All the best,
Kelly Washington

Related: Tips to Demonstrate Work Ethic

5. Get ready to return

While you’re out and if you’re able to, stay in contact with your team so you have the information you need to get back to work quickly. If you miss an important meeting with a client, for example, ask a coworker for the meeting notes. Being prepared for your return to work can minimize the impact that your absence has on your workplace. If you are dealing with a personal or family emergency or health issue, it is also equally important to step away from your work and take care of yourself.

6. Work hard when you get back to work

After being out of the office, it’s important to work hard to catch up on any projects that may have been delayed in your absence. Show your supervisor and your team that you are still committed to your work by putting in the extra effort needed to stay on track.

Related: 6 Acceptable Reasons to Call in Sick

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Examples for calling out of work

Here are some sample emails and phone scripts for calling out of work:

Example 1: Writing an email for a personal emergency

Dear Amanda,

I am writing to let you know I will be unable to come to work tomorrow. I had a small electrical fire in my kitchen and need to have a repair person and electrician come by in the afternoon. I might not have electricity until tomorrow, but you can reach me on my cell phone by text or email. I have asked Vincent to follow up on the sales leads I got last week. He will let me know the customers’ responses so I can prepare to call them if necessary when I return.

I will see you the day after tomorrow.


Lorraine Andrews

Related: The Best Way to Ask for Time Off via Email

Example 2: Leaving a voicemail about an illness

Hi, this is Aisha calling for David. I’ve been up all night with a fever, so I won’t be able to work at the restaurant tomorrow. However, Tariq has agreed to cover for me and will be there at four. I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and plan to be back tomorrow if I’m well. I can be reached by text in the meantime.

Related: The Best Excuses To Leave Work Early

Example 3: Emailing for a family emergency

Dear Meihui,

I am writing because I need to take some personal days off work to care for my wife who was in a car accident yesterday. I will need to stay in the hospital overnight and arrange a babysitter for our kids. I don’t know when I will be able to return to work, but I will keep you updated.

Best regards,

Chandler Levin

Related: 5 Reasons To Take a Personal Day

Example 4: Sending a text for a personal day

Hi Jessica,

I’m just letting you know I plan to take two of my personal days today and tomorrow so I can prioritize my mental health. I have edited the three blog posts you sent yesterday and will edit the final two this evening or in the morning. If you have any urgent requests, please let me know, and I will either get to them myself or arrange for someone to cover for me.

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