A guide to calling in sick at work properly

call in sick

We all need a break from work sometimes. If you’re going to call in sick for a day instead of taking a vacation day, prepare well in advance, make a convincing phone call, and show it later. If you’re looking for a way to call in sick without getting caught, follow these simple steps and you’ll be enjoying your day off in no time.

Choose the right time.

If you decide to call in sick, it’s a good idea to check the calendar beforehand. You should make sure that the day you choose isn’t the obvious perfect day to be off work. Here are some ways you can choose the right day: First, make sure you haven’t taken too many days off lately, whether it was due to illness or not. You don’t want to be seen as the person who’s always looking for a day off. Make sure you’ve been to work every day for the past two months before attempting to skip work. Don’t choose a particularly important or bothersome day, like the day of an important meeting that everyone dreads or the day when a customer comes by that everyone knows you don’t get along with. This will make it obvious that you’re trying to avoid showing up for work on that particular day. Do not choose a day on which a major sporting event takes place in your city. If everyone knows you’re a fan of a certain team and would love to see the game, then your excuse won’t work. If you choose a Friday or Monday, you’ll need to be extra persuasive because it will appear like you’re trying to buy yourself a nice long weekend.

Let your illness be noted the day before.

As soon as you have chosen your desired sick day, you should already show the first symptoms of the approaching illness the day before. It seems suspicious when you’ve worked your hardest days or cracked jokes in the coffee shop one day and then called in sick with a debilitating illness the next day. Do the following: Cough and sniffle occasionally. At lunch, casually mention that you don’t have an appetite. Look a little unkempt. If you’re a man, ruffle your hair or don’t tuck your shirt all the way in. If you’re a woman, wear less makeup than usual and don’t wash your hair to give yourself a “slightly tired” look. Don’t overdo it though – remember, you want to look like you’re getting sick, not like a tramp. Don’t make your illness too obvious. As soon as people hear you cough or sniffle, they’ll ask you how you’re feeling. Try to pretend it’s nothing. Just say, “No, I’m really fine” or “I think I’m just a little tired today.” If you’re a big coffee drinker, drink tea instead. Put your hands on your head as if you have a headache. Take some ibuprofen casually during work hours. Take a full pack with you so everyone will hear when you take out a pill. You can also just fake the intake, but you have to be convincing. Be a bit reserved throughout the day. Don’t try too hard and don’t be particularly friendly. If your co-workers invite you to happy hour or lunch, say thank you, but tell them you don’t feel like it today. If it’s Friday and you’ve planned to take Monday off, then give some hints at the end of the day. Share that you’re not feeling well, but you’ll feel better over the weekend. If you then call during the month, you can mention that you felt very bad at the weekend and are feeling better now, but are not yet fully recovered.

Prepare for the call.

Once you have your plan in place, you should prepare for the call. You should be prepared for any eventuality during the call so you don’t get caught off guard and left without a good answer. Here are the things you should do: Know your illness well. Is it a migraine, a cold, or something else? A migraine or a cold are good excuses. Don’t choose an illness that is so complicated it’s difficult to describe or that takes several days to recover, such as a sore throat or food poisoning. Knows about your illness, but don’t give too many details. You want to keep the call short and concise. If your boss should ask questions about it, you can answer them. Be prepared for questions your boss might ask so your answers sound honest. Know when your illness started, how you think you will feel tomorrow, and what you will do today to recover. Rehearse the conversation. You can even call a close friend to practice. You can try writing down what you want to say to help you practice. However, when making the actual call, you should not just read from the paper.

Make the call very early.

Once you’ve prepared for the call, you should call your boss very early. But not so early that you wake him up and bother him with it. Just call him around the time you usually get up for work to make it seem like you got up normally and realized that you don’t feel fit enough for work today. You might get lucky and end up on your boss’s voicemail. Then he can’t ask any questions and you can leave your sick note on the voicemail. However, if he calls back, you should always be able to answer the call.

Sound sick during the call.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking to your boss on voice mail or in person over the phone, it’s important to convey your illness convincingly. There are a few things you can do to sound like you really caught something: Unless you’re too nervous about the call, you really should make it as soon as you wake up. Your voice will naturally sound a bit hoarse in the morning since you haven’t had a chance to use it yet. If necessary, practice what you’re going to say for a moment. Cough or sniffle occasionally during the call. Don’t overdo it, though, because a fake cough can seem very obvious, but a well-placed cough or sniffle can be very convincing. Make your voice sound hoarse. To accomplish this, you can scream out loud into a pillow beforehand so your throat hurts a little, or don’t drink water for a long time before the call. You can also make the call lying down with your head down, but make sure you don’t become disoriented and forget what you were trying to say.

Also, act a little sick the next day.

It would be very suspicious if you showed up to work the next day well-rested and energetic. Instead, you should pretend you’re feeling a little better after your cold but still have some symptoms of the pesky illness. Here’s how: Don’t groom yourself as thoroughly as you normally would. Again, don’t look like a tramp, but let your hair, face, and clothes look a little disheveled. Be calmer than usual. Blow your nose or cough occasionally. Apologize for missing a day at work. Of course, you would have liked to have been there. Don’t show up with a nice tan or a new outfit. That would only make it obvious that you’ve spent your day in the sun or shopping.


Some companies offer the option of taking a day off for personal reasons instead of calling in sick – check with your HR department for specific company policy in this case. If something like this is available in your company, you can use this route instead of faking an illness. Inform your workplace that you will not be showing up for work that day for “personal reasons”. Remember that staff and management closely monitor sick leave absences. It is noted how long the persons were ill and their frequency and pattern. Don’t tell anyone in your office that you have lied or will lie about an illness. Even if you’re close friends, this information could end up with your boss and get you in big trouble. Calling in sick too often will make your boss skeptical of such calls and make him/her more strict about such matters. Don’t show yourself too often in public on your sick day. You can go to the grocery store in your sweatpants for a moment, but if an employee or your boss catches you well dressed at happy hour, you’re going to be in big trouble.


If you want to call in sick but aren’t actually sick, then you need to execute your plan perfectly. If you don’t convey your illness convincingly, your boss will lose confidence in you and see you as an unreliable employee. This increases the likelihood that you will lose your job.


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