Sick days can put a temporary pause on important projects, but they’re also essential for the health and well-being of the individual employee and the company as a whole.
Statistics show that sick days decrease the spread of illnesses like the flu, reduce spending on emergency healthcare, and reduce employee turnover.
The benefits are especially high for paid sick days. A study of Connecticut’s mandatory five-day paid sick leave policy found that companies without paid sick days lose $160 billion each year due to lower productivity.
Allowing employees to text in sick can be quick and convenient for both the employee and the supervisor. However, not all companies allow this; some require a phone call, email, or online time-off request.
Below, we list the best ways to respond when an employee texts in sick — whether they need a reminder of the policy, you’re approving their request, or you think they’re lying.
We also have some tips to keep in mind when communicating with employees who request sick days.
- [Employee’s name], I’m concerned about your sick leave. Let’s schedule a meeting when you’re feeling better to discuss the situation further and address any potential concerns.
- I hope you feel better soon! I’ll get your shift covered, but please remember to report your absence in the online employee portal.
- Thank you for letting me know! You can have the day off. I hope you feel better soon, and keep me posted if you’re unable to make it in on [scheduled days].
- [Employee’s name], I trust you’re genuinely unwell, but it’s crucial for us to maintain transparency and ensure workload continuity. Please share more information about your condition and expected recovery time.
- I noticed you’ve been out a lot lately. Is there anything I need to know about or anything you need from me?
- I hope you feel better soon! Do you think you’ll be well enough to come back for your shift on [day]? Let us know if there’s anything we can do for you.
- Thank you for letting me know. Please see me when you get back so we can discuss your attendance further.
- Thanks for letting me know, but the company requires that you contact [email/phone number] to report your absence. Feel better soon and let us know if there’s anything we can do for you!
- I hope you’re feeling better soon. To help with scheduling and workload adjustments, please provide more details about your illness and when you expect to return. I’d also like to arrange a brief meeting to discuss your attendance when you’re back at the office.
- Get well soon! The team will cover [necessary task], so take the time you need.
- Hello, [employee’s name]. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling unwell. I’m concerned about your absence today. Please provide any relevant information about your illness or expected recovery time so that we can plan accordingly.
- Thanks for letting us know in a timely manner! Don’t forget to submit a copy of your doctor’s note to the employee portal. Rest up and get well soon.
- I hope you get well soon. Let’s discuss your absence when you’re feeling better, so we can understand your situation better and make appropriate arrangements.
- That’s unfortunate. I hope you feel better soon. Just as a reminder, you have [number] sick days remaining after today.
- I understand you’re unwell. To ensure we can accommodate your needs and maintain workflow in your absence, could you please share the expected duration of your illness and any tasks you’re currently working on?
- Very sorry to hear that you’re unwell! Take it easy and let me know if there’s anything we can do.
- Thank you for letting me know in advance! Don’t worry about it — get some rest and feel better soon!
- Hi [employee’s name], hope you’re feeling better soon. Just wanted to check in and see if there’s anything I can do to support you during your illness. Let’s discuss how we can manage your workload in the meantime.
- That’s unfortunate! I hope you recover quickly! Please take the time that you need and let us know if there’s anything we can do for you.
- I understand that you’re not feeling well today. Please remember that open and honest communication is key. If there’s anything you’d like to discuss regarding your absence, feel free to reach out.
- Okay, I’ll find someone to cover your shift today. Sending positive thoughts for your speedy recovery!
- Hi [employee’s name]. I hope you recover quickly. If you’re able to return to the office tomorrow, we can arrange a brief check-in to discuss your illness and how we can assist you in the coming days.
- No worries — [team members] will take care of [necessary tasks] today! Rest up and get well soon!
- Take the time you need to rest and recover. I hope you feel better soon!
- Okay, speedy recovery! Do you need me to cover anything while you’re out sick?
- Oh no! Is there anything we can do to help? Take care of yourself and feel better!
- Sorry to hear you’re feeling ill! Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you or if you need more time off.
- Of course, take the day. We’ll check in tomorrow to see how you’re feeling.
- Thank you for letting me know. Is there anything specific you need us to take care of today? Wishing you a speedy recovery!
- Don’t stress about missing work — just focus on recovering! I’ll find someone to cover your shift. Let us know if there is anything we can do.
- Hi [employee’s name], I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling well. If your condition persists or worsens, please consider reaching out to a healthcare professional for a proper assessment and documentation.
- Sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well! I will grant you a [number]-day leave. Please keep in touch if you need more time. Wishing you a speedy recovery!
- I hope you recover quickly! You have [number] sick days remaining, so please let me know if you need additional time off.
- Hi [employee’s name], I understand you’re unwell, and I want to ensure you receive the support you need. Let’s discuss your absence and how we can adjust tasks to accommodate your recovery.
- Thank you for letting me know. Is there anything you’d like me to take care of on your behalf today? Wishing you a speedy recovery!
- I hope you feel better very soon! Don’t worry about work — we’ll hold down the fort. Please let us know if you need anything!
- I’m sorry to hear that you’re feeling ill! Of course, you can have the day off today. Please remember to submit a note from your doctor when you return. Get well soon!
Tips for Responding to an Employee’s Sick Leave Request
Contacting your employees over a typically casual medium like text messaging can be challenging.
Keep the following tips in mind when receiving and responding to employees who text in sick:
- Stick to your company’s policy. Every company’s sick leave policy is unique, and you should make sure both you and the employee follow the proper procedures. If your company requires the employee to request time off in its online system, for example, you might need to remind the employee to submit their request there rather than just accepting the text message. Or, if you need to report the absence to a higher supervisor, do so as soon as possible.
- Provide reminders of the policy as needed. If the employee needs to provide a doctor’s note or contact you to confirm any further changes to their schedule, let them know. Don’t assume that they’ll remember all of the details of the policy, especially if they’re truly ill. Even minor conditions like colds can be exhausting and lead to forgetfulness.
- Be polite and compassionate. Though you’re responding to a text message, you’re still in a position of authority over the employee. Respond to the text in full sentences, avoiding slang, wish them well, and provide clear guidance if there are any further steps the employee needs to take.
- Even if you suspect that the employee isn’t sick, be professional. While employees have been known to fake illnesses sometimes, don’t assume that everyone who texts in sick is faking. Act on facts and avoid making any abrupt judgments. Texting back accusatory or passive-aggressive statements won’t make the situation better, and if the employee is truly sick or has another valid reason for requesting the day off, you’ll come across as insensitive. It’s important to address the employee’s behavior if they’re lying, but it’s also important to maintain professionalism in handling the situation. Gather evidence (e.g., records of previous absences) and speak to them when they return to the office if you suspect a problem.
- Keep all of the texts. It’s best to keep a clear record of when the employee contacted you, as well as how and when you responded. You might need to reference the messages again if the employee has repeated attendance issues or needs to provide additional documentation of their illness.