I felt sick the whole night and at 7:30am I send an email to my boss and a colleague letting them know that I would take a day off work. My colleague replied to my email a few minutes after receiving my email; however, my boss did not at all and I do not know how to interpret that. Since I started my employment at the beginning of this year, this is my first sick day. Is that a normal practice or I should have received a reply from my boss at least confirming he received my notification?


  • He probably missed it. Better to phone in future
    – Ed Heal
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:39
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    @EdHeal I would never just phone. An email is a trail. Every place I've worked the last 10 years has allowed me to email but even if I were to phone, I'd still follow it up with an email so I could have a record of it in case something happens like "He didn't call in which is an assumed quit" which I've actually seen happen.
    – Chris E
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:53
  • @ChristopherEstep I do both. Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:57
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    @EdHeal Trust, but verify. Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 18:57
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    VTC since there's no real question to solve here. You should have asked when you joined how sick leave went. You should have phoned or texted your manager in addition to sending a mail if you don't know what he prefers. There's nothing to be done about that now beyond asking him when you get back if you should have handled it differently. Not seeing an answerable question here.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 19:15

6 Answers 6


When you started with the company did you go through a process on how to report sick days as a part of your orientation? If there is no official process or emailing boss and affected parties is policy, you've made an honest effort and that's likely good enough to avoid official repercussions. If there is an official process but it wasn't communicated to you, that's not on you and again likely won't lead to official repercussions. If there is an official process in a document you signed off on (eg employee handbook) and you didn't follow it then there may be legit grounds for consequences (but even then not necessarily).

Your boss answering or not isn't a solid indication of any of these things, however if the worry is preventing you from getting the rest you need to get better you can always call to confirm that the message was received.

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    Yeah, maybe the boss is sick too and doesn't check email.
    – daraos
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 19:19

It is probably fine, but naturally the outcome will depend on whether your boss actually saw your email, and how much cover needed to be arranged at short notice. And add in your boss' personality. The fact that your colleague replied is a good sign, because it means that someone could tell your manager about your sickness if he noticed you were missing before he checked his emails.

Your predicament is generally why you don't email, text, tweet about short-term changes to work. You need two-way communication to arrange things at short notice, so it is better to pick up the phone, or maybe a chat application (if your company uses those), and follow up until someone who can take responsibility for your news has confirmed they are going to do so. A reasonable thing to do is email first thing (like you did) and then follow up with a phone call in office hours when someone is likely there and able to react.

I think that the most likely worst outcome from a reasonable manager in your specific case (first time sick) is a reminder to use some two-way communication next time.


Personally, it sounds perfectly normal to me. For all the sick leave emails I have sent to my managers, it was 99% of time that I never got a response. I will recommend not to push for a response. Better take rest and get ready for the next working day.


First, check your HR guidelines. If something is spelled out there, that trumps any of the answers you'll get in this thread.

Otherwise, you did not receive an explicit answer from your manager, and therefore need to infer one. Take your best guess as to what a non-response from your boss means based upon your pre-existing relationship. Then, no matter what you decide is correct, send a follow-up email with your interpretation of the non-response. This could be as simple, "Hey, I didn't get a response. I'm going to assume this is OK. Let me know if I'm off base here." If that is incorrect and your manager is reading his or her email, he or she has an opportunity to correct your assumption and you will have the explicit response you desire.

In the future, you can include a statement of how you will interpret a lack of response, such as "please let me know if you need me to power through this and come into the office."


You emailed your boss and a coworker. The coworker responded so you know that the email was received by the mail server and delivered. I have worked many places where my boss would not respond to a I'm sick email and it was not a issue. You should have had a conversation already with your boss about how you should report absences, but since you didn't.....tomorrow when you go back to work you need to have one. "Hi Boss, I sent a email yesterday that I was going to be out sick. Was that the proper way to let you know or would you prefer a call/text/telegram/..."

Feel better.

  1. If you don't hear from your boss, simply send your boss a second email stating that you are taking a sick day.

  2. Since your colleague got your email, contact your colleague and have your colleague tell your boss that you are taking a sick day and that your email is in your boss's inbox.

Other options include calling the receptionist and have the receptionist take down your message, calling HR, etc. Of course, call your boss and talk to your boss directly and be done with this issue so that you can go back to enjoying yourself being sick :)

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