Need to know how to tell your boss you have food poisoning and won’t be coming to work without giving all the details?
First of all, there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed, these things happen.
Food poisoning is actually fairly common, affecting more than 48 million people in the US each year!
Here is how you can tell your boss you have food poisoning in a professional way and what your rights are:
How to Tell Your Boss You Have Food Poisoning
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that no matter if you’re embarrassed or don’t want to tell your boss why you’re feeling sick, honesty is the best policy.
This doesn’t mean you have to give them any gory details, you can keep it pretty short and brief.
But you have to tell your boss that you’re not well enough to come in, and you should let them know the cause.
I would say something like:
- “Hi, unfortunately, I’m not going to be in today, I’ve eaten something that clearly wasn’t cooked properly!”
- “Hi, I’m really sorry if I’m letting you and the team down but I can’t come in today. I have a bout of food poisoning, but hopefully, I’ll be back to normal soon!”
- “Hey, sorry but I can’t work today. I have food poisoning and feel dreadful, hopefully, a day in bed will get me back on my feet!”
- “I hate to say it, but I have food poisoning so I can’t be in the office, sorry!”
- “Hi, I’ve managed to pick up food poisoning and feel awful. I’m really sorry but I won’t be able to work today, I’ll keep you posted on how I’m recovering.”
You’ll know your workplace and boss and what you need to do if you’re going to be taking the day off.
So, if you need to arrange cover, tell your boss by a certain time, etc, make sure you do all of that.
Why Someone People Don’t Want to Tell Their Boss Why They’re Sick
It can be difficult giving your boss the details as to why you’re sick, and I get that.
You might not want to share that you have food poisoning because:
- You’re worried about how they will react, i.e. if they’ll think you’re unprofessional.
- You don’t want to get into the gory details about having diarrhea or whatever symptoms you have!
- You’re worried they won’t believe you or will think that it’s not a good enough reason not to come in.
- You don’t want them telling your coworkers and being made fun of when you’re back.
These are all valid concerns, but at the end of the day, you need to tell your boss.
They need to know that you’re not well enough to come in and can’t work, and food poisoning is a perfectly good reason for that.
Your boss should be professional enough to hear you out, understand your position, not pressure you to come in, and not tell anyone else.
If they pressure you or tell your coworkers what you’ve told them, they’re breaching your employee rights and you have cause to report them to HR.
Do I Have to Tell My Boss Why I’m Off Sick?
First of all, you should check the employment laws in your state as well as your company’s procedures in regard to what you do or don’t have to say when you’re sick.
It’s important to know what your rights are, and you can then make the best decision based on the laws where you live.
That said, in most states and companies you’re not duty-bound to reveal an illness if you don’t want to.
At least, in most instances you don’t have to tell your immediate boss, you may have to tell your HR department and it’ll be kept confidential at that level.
Should I Go to Work if I Have Food Poisoning?
Some bosses and jobs put a lot of pressure on employees to come to work, even if they’re sick.
Plus, if you’re going to lose money I can understand that you want to go in if possible.
The problem, however, is that food poisoning can be very contagious especially if you’ve had diarrhea.
So, if you go in and work with other people, you’re putting their health at risk as well as your own.
Not to mention that food poisoning can hit you suddenly and you could end up in an embarrassing situation running to the toilet!
Plus, do you really want to be at work if you feel dreadful?
I know I don’t.
Hopefully, there is an option to work from home, that’s the best-case scenario. But for a lot of people, that’s not an option.
It’s just really not worth it, and you should try to take the day off if you can so that you can recover quickly, avoid any uncomfortable situations, and go back to work recharged.
If your boss gives you a hard time about it then explain that you understand their position but that there is a risk, you have the right to recover, and it’s just not possible for you to come in.
If they’re really hard on you then it’s a strong sign that your boss is an unprofessional, toxic person, and you have to think about your long-term position there.
Image credits – Photo by David Hahn on Unsplash
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.