How To Write an Absence Letter to Your Employer in 4 Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 2 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

People commonly experience unanticipated events that require time off work. In the event you need to miss work, it is important to inform your supervisors of the situation by writing an absence letter to explain your reasons for requesting time away from work. When communicating with your employer, it is also important to write a letter that is professional, clear, and easy to read. In t his article, we explain what an absence letter is and how to write an absence letter with a template and example to guide you when you write your own.

What is an absence letter?

An absence letter or letter of excuse is a formal message announcing and describing an employee's leave of absence. A professional letter of absence describes how long you plan to take off work and your reasons for requesting time off, allowing their managers to make appropriate plans for completing work in your absence. A leave of absence differs from traditional paid time off like holidays and sick leave. An employee only takes this kind of time off work because of an unexpected event or emergency. Here are some acceptable and unacceptable reasons to write an absence letter:

Acceptable reasons for an absence letter

It's important to provide valid excuses for having to leave work suddenly, as your employer likely depends on you for important operational tasks. Here are some acceptable reasons for taking a leave of absence:

  • Family emergency: Y ou can write an absence letter for certain family emergencies, like illnesses, surgeries, injuries or accidents. If an event like this occurs, write your letter as soon as you know of it and include the potential duration of your absence.

  • Bereavement: In the event of a death of a loved one, write an absence letter to explain your request and provide the date when you plan to return to work.

  • Illness or injury: While you can typically use sick days to recover from minor illnesses like a cold or fever, you may need to write a letter of excuse if you need a long period to recover from a major sickness or injury. In the absence letter, specify that you can resume work as soon as you recover, and provide a doctor's note if possible.

  • Child care: It is also appropriate to write a leave of absence letter if you need to care for a child or dependent because of unexpected school or daycare closures.

Related: Valid Reasons for Requesting Half Day Leave

Unacceptable reasons for an absence letter

As asking for a leave of absence is a serious request, be sure your reasons are appropriate. If you're experiencing a non-emergency situation and you want to take time off work, consider discussing the issue with your employer or human resources manager to learn about what protocols you have to follow. The following are examples of unacceptable excuses for an absence letter:

  • Car trouble: If you have an issue with your vehicle, consider alternative transportation rather than requesting a leave of absence.

  • Forgetfulness: Tardiness and forgetfulness are also inappropriate reasons for taking a leave of absence. Knowing when to be present and showing up to work on time conveys your commitment to your job and company, your organisational skills and your strong work ethic.

  • Exhaustion or dissatisfaction: in some cases, exhaustion may be a valid reason to take time off. However, it is essential to discuss these conditions with your manager before writing a letter of absence, as they may support you by adjusting your workload or providing additional paid time off.

Related: How to Find Your Desired Career Path

How to write an absence letter

Writing an absence letter that is professional and clearly outlines your intentions, timeline and reasons is essential for keeping your managers and teammates aware of your schedule and work activities. Use the following steps to write an absence letter that supports your request:

1. Consider whether you can work from home

In situations such as medical emergencies, you may not be able to work remotely. However, in other cases, such as taking care of your child, you may have the capacity to work from home. Consider the reason you need time off from work and determine whether you can work from your computer at home instead of taking a leave of absence. You can discuss the possibility with your employer and form a plan with them.

Related: Everything You Should Know About Working From Home

2. Review your company's handbook and leave policies

Most companies have employee handbooks with clear policies and processes for taking time off. Study any policy documents you have for instructions regarding taking a leave of absence. Most organisations accept excuse letters for deaths in the family, family emergencies, sicknesses and long-term medical issues, but make sure to check whether your reasons for taking time off are acceptable according to your company guidelines. You can also ask your manager or human resources representative for clarification on how to request time off.

3. Make work arrangements during your absence

Talk to your supervisors and colleagues to determine whether others can handle some of your work responsibilities while you are away from the office. Review priorities and explain the details of the projects you are working on and provide any documents and resources to prepare your colleagues before your absence. Be sure to mention in your letter the preparations you make with your teams to better support their workflow in your absence. Planning and delegating your duties can show your employer that you are responsible and have initiative.

4. Write and revise your letter

Use a formal business letter format when writing your excuse letter. Even if your company is fairly casual and relaxed, it is necessary for your excuse letter to remain professional, as it becomes part of your employee file. Consider the following elements to include in your letter of absence to better communicate your request and reasons for leaving:

  • Subject line: The subject line can include your full name and the reason for your message, such as "Request for leave of absence to handle a family emergency."

  • Formal salutation: Start your letter with a formal salutation using the recipient's last name.

  • Reason for absence: In the body of your letter, describe the reason for your absence.

  • Date and duration of absence: Specify the duration of your absence and include the dates for when you plan to leave and return. If you are unsure of the exact duration, you can provide a potential timeline.

  • Arrangements: Highlight any arrangements you make to ensure your work can progress while you are out of the office. For example, mention the tasks and team members with whom you leave your work while you are absent.

  • Doctor's note, if applicable: If you are taking time off for a medical reason, include a doctor's note. This gives additional proof and details any medical restrictions or considerations for when you return.

  • Contact details: Provide your personal phone number and contact information to communicate with colleagues and help with operations in your absence if it becomes necessary.

  • Closing signature: End the letter with a closing statement and your signature.

Related: Business Letter Format and Example

Absence letter template

Letters of absence can follow a similar template to a business or cover letter, where you include the subject (if in an email), your salutation and letter body. The following template provides a simple outline to follow when writing your absence letter:

[Subject line]


[Letter body:]

  • [First paragraph: details your reasons and the duration of your absence]

  • [Second paragraph: details work and project arrangements]

  • [Third paragraph: provides contact information for supervisors and colleagues to reach you]


[Your name]

Example of an absence letter

Studying examples of absence letters may help you write your own. Here is an example you can refer to as you write your own:

Subject: leave of absence for a family emergency, Fatima Mehta

Dear Ms. Chawla,

I am writing this letter to request a leave of absence from 31 July 2021 through 5 August 2021. My son will be undergoing an operation due to a sporting injury and will require assistance and additional care during that time. I have attached my son's physician's notice, and I am happy to provide additional documentation of his surgery, if necessary.

I plan to return to work on 6 August 2021. I have discussed my leave of absence with my team, and we have outlined a general plan for project completion while I am gone. My current marketing project is almost complete, and Aarav Kaur will be taking over the finishing tasks for this Friday's client delivery. I will also be available via phone calls and email to answer any questions and help with the additional project tasks I assigned to Diya Singh.

Please let me know if you need additional documentation from me or additional support organising tasks for my absence. Thank you for your understanding.

Fatima Mehta

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