I sent a message today to our HR informing them that I won't be able to work today and I applied for sick leave because I'm not feeling well. But the fact is I'm not really sick, I don't have a fever or anything.

My only reason is I feel tired today because last night my motorbike stopped working on my way home at around 9 PM and I needed to fix it on the road. After hours fixing and the fact I just left the office, I feel totally exhausted. So I decided that I'll be needing a long rest and also bring my motorbike to mechanic for proper check.

Now, I would like to write a follow-up message, and tell the HR that I'll be back to the office tomorrow, but I'm afraid they may think I have a fever or any symptoms and as we know COVID still prevalent. How do I tell them I'm just tired? Or can I call it burn out? I was thinking that if I'd say burn out, they may have the impression that I could not handle stress properly, if I'd say tired they may think I'm getting lazy.

I just got 1 year in this company.

  • So... I included my answer, but I think now that you clarified it seems the situation is different... may you share the words you used in the message you sent? That would be important as saying "not feeling well" is quite different than saying "sick"... for the first one "tired because my bike issue" would fit... but on the second one I fear that there is no way to fix your message to try to make it truthful now (I assume you said "not feeling well" is that correct?)
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 5, 2020 at 1:16
  • 3
    Also, why the need to write them again, explaining that you will be arriving tomorrow? Why not just be there at work when your shift starts?
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 5, 2020 at 1:20
  • 1
    You accepted an answer less than 90 minuets after you posted your question. You should probably wait longer to see what other answers come in before accepting one.
    – alroc
    Aug 5, 2020 at 2:45
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    By "sick leave", do you mean paid leave you can only take while sick? Or just that you asked for the day off due to being sick?
    – Kat
    Aug 5, 2020 at 3:56
  • 1
    What is your sick leave policy anyway? It's not uncommon to not need an explanation for sick leaves which only last one day.
    – Mavrik
    Aug 17, 2020 at 20:24

3 Answers 3


How do I tell them I'm just tired? or can I call it burn out?

Why not tell them the truth? Explaining to them just how you did here with us in your post.

Seems to me that "I feel tired" may indeed not be the best excuse to call in sick for work... however, the fact that your motorcycle is broken and needs fixing is a valid excuse for being late or not being able to go to work one day. So, I suggest you go with that (or, if this is in retrospective, that was what you should have done).

An honest, yet valid and effective message to send could be (or could have been):

Hello [HR or person you are writing to].

Sorry for writing at this late hours, but after leaving work today my motorcycle broke half way on my way home. After several hours I managed to get home, but I need to take my bike to the mechanic to give it a proper fix.

Thus, I won't be able to arrive at work, but I will surely be able to be there tomorrow after it's fixed.

Thanks, threeFatCat


So, after a bit of clarification seems that your situation is the following:

  • First, you wrote HR last night telling them that you "were not feeling well", and that you won't be able to go to work today.

  • The truth was that you were actually tired, because of your motorcycle breaking down in the middle of the night, and you having to fix it, and you having to go to the mechanic today.

  • Now, you want (why?) to write a follow-up message to HR stating that you will be arriving to work tomorrow.

Unless you are bound to write that follow-up message, I suggest you actually don't write it, and just be there at work tomorrow. Then, if/when they ask you details on what happened you can tell them the whole story, and that you "weren't feeling well" because of everything that the bike incident represented.

...now... if you actually wrote "I am feeling sick" then I fear you are now trapped in the endless loop that lying involves... try not to do that in the future.

  • Thanks for your input! For answering why, I wanted to send follow up message, I just wanted to avoid getting ask in details once I get back to work, or avoid to be ask for medical certifications since our office is practicing guidelines about COVID base on the government requirements, though I'm not sure if certifications is part for employees that went sick leave. Aug 5, 2020 at 2:04
  • I see... next time, being truthful from the start can spare you from having to sort all of these details that a "harmless lie" can have, as well as spare you HR department from, perhaps, having to follow up on you or do paperwork regarding sick leave... I understand that you were tired and perhaps not in the best clear mindset when you wrote that message, but next time you know what to do
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 5, 2020 at 2:21
  • I realize it's better not to send another message then as per your answer. Less talk less mistake. Aug 5, 2020 at 2:38
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    For future reference, most companies allow employees to take time off for 'family/domestic emergencies', These are normal for a family member taking seriously ill, or burst pipes. I would have emailed requested a domestic emergency day off. At the worst, a good employer would ask you to take a paid/upaid day off instead.
    – CSM
    Aug 5, 2020 at 13:16
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    If I go long enough with insufficient sleep, I can actually feel physically sick just from being so tired. So writing to HR that I am feeling sick would not have been a lie in that case. Aug 5, 2020 at 13:45

Why do you feel that you need to follow up at all? Or that you've been untruthful?

IMHO, you told the truth the first time around - you aren't feeling well, so you won't be working today. Not getting enough sleep and feeling exhausted falls on the spectrum of "not feeling well." A direct line can be drawn from being overly tired/feeling exhausted to making mistakes in your work, so if you're feeling very tired, it may be in everyone's best interest for you to not work today.

The more details/cover story you attempt to create, the less believable it will become - and you don't need to cover anything up here! At the same time, your employer doesn't need to know every detail of your condition.

If you feel that you must send a follow-up, just reiterate that you aren't feeling well today, your symptoms are not consistent with COVID-19, and you expect to return to work tomorrow. You do not owe anyone an explanation of what "not feeling well" means.

WRT the burnout excuse, burnout is a very real thing that happens to people who are capable of handling stressful situations. But it's also not something that's "fixed" by taking a single day off. Again, the more you pile onto your story, the more of a hole you dig for yourself.

  • I am not entirely convinced the author told the truth, if they had, they wouldn’t be asking this question due being worried that their statement needed clarification. Let’s call a spade a spade, the author was tired and should have asked to take a single day off, using the appropriate type of leave for that situation. Everyone has an issue like breaking down, it taking 6 hours for AAA to show up, and having to wake up 4 hours later. I have been there, I wasn’t sick, just tired.
    – Donald
    Aug 5, 2020 at 6:29

Well, you have already lied once to them. All you can do is continue, but sick can be anything, not necessarily something people can catch from you. Say you twisted your ankle or hurt your wrist fixing your bike but it feels ok now.

  • 1
    I doubt that suggesting someone to continue lying is a wholesome advice Kilisi...
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 5, 2020 at 1:24
  • @DarkCygnus telling the truth catches the OP in a lie, telling another harmless one gives the OP a reasonable excuse that doesn't explicitly say. 'I told you a load of bullpoops earlier because I couldn't be bothered coming in'. It's called a white lie, a harmless way of avoiding minor unpleasantness or drama.
    – Kilisi
    Aug 5, 2020 at 1:49
  • You are right saying the lie is already out and can't be reverted any more. But I suggest to not continue lying in terms of coming up with other false facts. But as you say, sick can be anything so a headache could also qualify as feeling sick and has an explainable reason in this case.
    – puck
    Aug 5, 2020 at 5:59
  • @puck sure, headache, shoulder ache or anything else that warrants a day off. Headache isn't much though, a couple of panadol and he'd be good to work. Twisted ankle or wrist is more believable. If someone told me they took the day off because they had a headache I'd assume it's a hangover. Migraine I'd be ok with but expect a medical cert. Twisted ankle I just expect them to sit at home and let it come right on it's own.
    – Kilisi
    Aug 5, 2020 at 7:49

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