I'm about to take a fairly extended leave in order to get a brain tumor removed. Everyone at my office is aware of what's going on and how long I'll likely be gone, but I'm not sure what to put in my out of office email message. On the one hand, I'm worried that putting that I'm out of the office for medical leave is too much information to put in a response email that goes out to clients, on the other hand, it seems unprofessional to say that I will return to the office sometime in the next few months.

Any suggestions? My manager has said that I should handle it in the way I feel comfortable.

  • 1
    who (if someone does...) is taking over your duties and handles your customers for the time you'll be OoO? (hope you'll get well)
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 17:37
  • 3
    Good luck with your treatment
    – HLGEM
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 22:14

2 Answers 2


Don't overthink this. There is nothing unprofessional about saying you will be returning in a few months. Make sure to include information about whom people should contact in your absence, that is adequate professionalism.

  • 1
    Agree with the answer but just wanted to add that, if OP feels comfortable with it and doesn't want anyone to jump to their own conclusions why they are away, it would not be unprofessional to vaguely outline the reason (although not required) by saying: "I will be out of the work for a few months following an operation. Please contact xyz in my absence."
    – Gamora
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 10:27

What the recipient of the email needs to know is "don't wait for me unless this really isn't important". The primary function of a long-term out-of-office message, therefore, is to tell people where to go instead. It's not necessary to explain why you're out at all. Something like this works:

I am out of the office for an indeterminate time. If your question is about X, please contact So-And-So. For all other questions, please do Thus-And-Such.

Astute readers will infer from the vague timeframe that it's medical. Unless your employer is very unusual, nobody's going to conclude that they let you go on a sabbatical without setting a return date.

  • 1
    "Astute readers will infer from the vague timeframe that it's medical." - or that the OP is serving a jail term. Although it's probably not a likely conclusion for someone to come to. Commented Mar 10, 2018 at 8:10
  • @O.R.Mapper I think jail terms short enough that your job would still be there are also specific, as opposed to "8-10 years" or the like. But I have no personal experience in this area. Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 1:13

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