How to Message Your Boss When You Are Not Feeling Well. Asking For Sick Leave in Japanese | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

How to Message Your Boss When You Are Not Feeling Well. Asking For Sick Leave in Japanese

By Guidable Writers Jun 13, 2017

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified) French Italian Russian Spanish Vietnamese Portuguese (Brazil)

If you’ve been working in Japan for a while, it’s possible you’ll get sick and be unable to work for a day. The last thing you want to deal with when you are not feeling well is how you should message your boss to tell them about your situation and ask for sick leave. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

When You Are Not Feeling Well, How Should You Message Your Boss?

In this article, we explain the basic manners to be aware of when you need to call in sick and provide example messages you can use!

It is also important to note that some companies will allow paid sick leave, and some rules are more obscure. So it’s best to check the rules when you first start. In most cases, your company will recommend using sick leave if you have influenza or other contagious illness. And it’s acceptable to use sick leave if you cannot physically work (extreme stomach pains, injury, etc.) However, asking for sick leave for a common cold or hay fever is not usually practised.

Check The Preferred Communication Method

In today’s society, most workplace communication is done through email or other online communication tools. More and more companies accept their workers to inform them of absences through messages or emails. However, in most cases, it is better for you to tell your boss directly by telephone because you want to be as polite as possible.

Tip: Before you get sick, check with your superior and discuss the appropriate person and method of contact to use when you need to stay home due to illness.

When to Contact Your Superior

If it’s still early in the morning and you determine you cannot work due to flu, an accident, etc., you should try to contact your boss as soon as possible, as they might have arrived at the office early. This way, they can plan how to work while you are absent. If your boss hasn’t arrived yet, then you can try again around 20-10 minutes before the company opens.

Sometimes, you might be unable to call your office or boss directly for various reasons. In this case, you can send an email based on the below information.


Outline of Your Email Asking For Sick Leave

teddy bears looking sick in bed with a fever and needing some sick leave

The general outline of the message should look like this:

  1. Apologize for your absence
  2. Explain the reason why you are absent
  3. Explain who is going to substitute your work
  4. Apologize again for causing inconvenience

Template of how to write an email 

First, you should begin the subject as follows:

Title: [勤怠連絡]体調不良によりお休みをいただきます

勤怠(Kintai) means ‘presents and absences’, and in this context it means absence. You first need to show that you are writing to inform your boss about your absence. In the next sentence, you should explain your reason for absence. If you want to say you are not feeling well, 体調不良 (taichou furyou) is a good word for you to use.

And the body paragraph of your passage should look like this:

〇〇(your name)です。おはようございます。(morning greeting) 本日、体調不良につきお休みさせていただきます。(informing absence and the reason)

In the first sentence you are messaging your absence and the reason.

And the next sentences should be the follow;

ご迷惑おかけし大変申し訳ありません(apologize for causing inconvenience) 。昨夜から〇〇(disease and symptoms) のため安静にしておりましたが、今朝になっても改善されません。

(Explaining that you are suffering from your disease and you have rested last night, but you still did not recover.)


(Explaining that you are going to the hospital today, and message that you are going to take a day-off)

なお、本日の〇〇(name of your project)の件については、〇〇(name of your colleague)さんに別途メールにて依頼する予定です。

(Inform your boss that you are asking your colleague to substitute your work through email.)


(Tell your boss that you are going to make a more detailed explanation after you recover from your illness, and tell him or her that you are going to contact him or her)


(Tell your boss that you have told your colleague that for any urgent issue, you have told them to message your phone)


(Apologize again for causing trouble.)

Try Asking For Sick Leave in Japan When You Are Not Feeling Well

This is one of the most polite templates you can use when messaging your boss about your absence. This form of email should be used in the office, and if you are a part-time worker, you do not need to write so formally. The most important thing is to try to come up with many templates in advance so you can use them in urgent situations.

Some people think asking for sick leave in Japan is taboo, much like asking for vacations. While your company isn’t likely to deny you the time off when you are sick, the company rules will determine whether you are paid for this day, whether you are required to use one of your vacation days, or whether it is just unpaid. It will also depend on whether you work full-time or part-time. If you are unsure, check in advance with your HR team or supervisor, and if you fall sick, try to contact your supervisor and hope for the best.