What’s the proper way to request a sick day? Do you call or email? How should you announce you’re taking your well-earned vacation days? There’s a right and wrong way to communicate with your boss and colleagues. It can be hard work to get out of work.

1. Try To Plan Ahead

As soon as you think you may need some time off from work, let your boss and coworkers know. Communication is key. Be sure to share any information other people may need to complete tasks, and let others know of any deadlines your absence may impact.

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Of course, this can be difficult when an illness is involved, but it always helps to make a decision as quickly as possible if you’re feeling under the weather. Recently, an employee’s sick leave request went viral—but for a good reason.

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In July, Madalyn Parker, an Olark web developer, sent an email to her coworkers requesting time off for mental health reasons. Not only was her request granted, but her boss sent an incredibly supportive response. Mental health is so often stigmatized or flat-out ignored in work settings, so it’s refreshing to know some bosses appreciate and understand the importance of mental health care.

2. No Texting

It’s never a good idea to use texting as the primary communication method in a professional setting. Every work environment is different, and while some bosses may be okay using texts, others may frown upon it. The best way to alert your coworkers and administrators about sick or vacation days is with an email.

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Pay attention to your workspace environment and follow cues set by your superiors. However, in situations where an immediate response is needed, most bosses or coworkers won’t mind receiving a text.

3. Keep It All Business

You don’t have to go into graphic detail about your illness. In fact, you shouldn’t. Company culture differs from one workplace to another, so you might be able to share your complaint in more compelling detail if you’re friends with your boss; however, for the most part, “I’m sick” is enough. 

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Oh, and if you find yourself on the other side of a sick-day phone call, don’t ask your employee for more detail than they offer. Illness can be a personal thing. It’s a function of the body, so that’s about as personal as it can get. Don’t pry.

4. Be Responsible

Some workplace cultures discourage calling in sick. They make it seem like a weakness, like a failure of dedication. That’s a shame.

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You aren’t doing anyone any favors when your report to work sick because you won’t be able to do your job to the best of your ability, you might subject coworkers to contagious illnesses, and you’ll contribute to the unhealthy narrative that you should work when you’re sick.

There’s no shame in illness, so you should go ahead and turn off your laptop. When you’re sick, the best thing you can do for yourself and your employer is to stay away from work. Responsible employers know this as well as anyone.