I’d used some Sick Leave for the time off from work today for a dentist appointment, but I got a call this morning that he wasn’t feeling well and that they would call back later to reschedule.

Should I call my work to let them know I'm available after all? And if I'm not needed, should I change my leave request to Annual Leave instead of Sick Leave?

In this case, I called my work to let them know I was available after all, but I'm wondering what is the most professional way to handle kind of situation?


5 Answers 5


Wow. Interesting thread of comments above. Chad gave me enough to ponder that I figured I'd write in an answer instead of permutating the massively commented answer past all recognition.

OK, so, redacting towards consensus:

Depends on job -

In jobs with longer term, big projects where work is assigned informally, and a majority of tasks don't have to be done on a fixed day/time then coming in an helping out (and in return, not taking any time off) is probably appreciated. No one minds an extra guy coming by to help when the help is helpful and doesn't take away from anyone else's compensation.

In cases where the number of people needed for a given shift is finite, where work and profits are shared more granularly, or where specific tasks are assigned on a day by day basis, then it's quite likely that the team or manager had to make other plans to cover for you, and changing the game plan on no notice will not be appreciated. In those cases - check in first. In a crisis, many bosses will be THRILLED that you are free, and you'll be a hero. While you're calling in is a good time to say "oh, and is this sick time or absense?" since company policy is likely to vary.

How to notify

This has as much to do with the nature of your work as whether or not to just head in to work. If you have a small team with intimate contact with the boss in an informal setting, you may be able to stroll on in. If you know you have a full lineup of work ahead of you (as in many salaried positions), you may be able to drop your boss a note that you'll be working on your backlog and just start on in.

But in disconnected teams, make sure your boss knows. It is hard to predict just how much the manager will care, but people always prefer to have more knowledge. This is especially true in cases of work at home, remote work, or work with a boss who is so overscheduled that email is the only way to find him.

Also - be aware of how your boss uses communication tools - IM, Voicemail, email, a sticky note, in person conversation - it will all work, but pick the medium that is most likely to get to your boss in a timely manner. This one is a "high speed, low content" sort of message.


Just go to the office and get to work.

When you see you boss tell him it was rescheduled.

  • 4
    This probably works most of the time. But in a situation where your work is carefully planned(someone else was scheduled to do your work) this may not be an option. Also if there is a disaster like a fire, before you see your boss no one may expect you to be in so no one knows to look for you. It would irritate me if someone reporting to me did this casually. Oct 25, 2012 at 20:08
  • @Chad - I'd say mileage varies. My work offers exactly this scenario and because our work is NOT scheduled, and people are not readily swapable, I'd be very happy to have my employee back working, dropping me a quick note, voicemail or IM to say "hey, appt. canceled, I'm back at work". Oct 26, 2012 at 14:43
  • @bethlakshmi - Agreed but how would you feel if you thought someone was out for the day and then find they were at work because they had not told you yet? Especially if you assigned tasks that would normally have gone to them to other people. That is the solution I get from this answer just go to work and tell your boss it was canceled when ever you see them... I personally see my manager rarely unless we are in a meeting together or I seek her out. Oct 26, 2012 at 15:08
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    @Morons: This happens a lot in retail/restaurant jobs. They usually know how busy they'll be as the day goes on, and they usually don't want to have too many people there when there's not enough work to do. (Call center jobs may be similar, but I don't know enough to say.)
    – Adam V
    Oct 26, 2012 at 19:33
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    @Morons - customer service positions: support, help desk, teachers/instructors, hospitality staff, and anyone else who needs to be there to support their business during a specific time. Oct 26, 2012 at 20:54

At places I've worked in the past, as an engineer, standard protocol would be to call (or in some cases email would be fine too) your boss and tell him/her your appointment was canceled so you will coming in the office after all, but arriving late (due to the last minute cancellation).

Taking a personal day instead of returning to work, for something that is usually partial-day absence, could come across in less than the most flattering light, though obviously, whether to come in depends on your line of work and the standard protocol. If you worked on an assembly line or as a teacher or waitress, a substitute may already be scheduled for your entire shift.

When in doubt ask your boss or HR department what the protocol is.


You should call your supervisor and tell them what happened with the appointment, let them make that decision whether you should come in or stay home and enjoy the time off. This way you know what is acceptable and you let your supervisor know that you are a hard worker willing to come back into work and not trying to cheat and get more vacation time.

It looks good on you this way and then when you ask for the sick leave for the rescheduled appointment no one says "I thought you just took time off last week for an appointment?"


what is the most professional way to handle kind of situation?

Well, it is your sick time and I assume after you use it all you are suppose to use your personal/vacation time for sick time.....?

Technically you can use your sick time at your discretion (for non-vacation appointment, health, etc type things), so I think the important part here is your intent.

You intended to use the time for a sick leave activity but it didn't happen due to circumstances out of your control...so you should be OK leaving it as sick time.

However, if you still want to go back into work - nothing is stopping you from doing that and canceling your sick time request.

  • 1
    Hi Greg. What would be considered more professional? Should the OP definitely go back into work? Or should the OP take the day off? Should the OP call the employer first or just assume he/she is needed? If you think through these questions, it should help you make edits to your post to cover the question and the assumptions it covers. Hope this helps!
    – jmort253
    Jul 4, 2015 at 15:47

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