10 Best Work Excuses from Doctors for Missing Work

When it comes to missing work, sometimes life throws a curveball that only a doctor can help with. That’s where work excuses from doctors come into play. 

Whether it’s an unexpected illness or a chronic condition needing attention, here are some of the top reasons doctors write those all-important sick notes:

  • Flu or Serious Cold
  • Injuries or Sprains
  • Recovery After Surgery
  • Contagious Diseases (Think COVID-19)
  • Mental Health Days
  • Pregnancy and Postpartum Needs
  • Chronic Condition Episodes
  • Severe Allergic Reactions
  • Mandatory Rest for Recovery
  • Doctor-Ordered Rest

With over a decade in the workforce, I’ve been there, done that with doctor’s notes. From the flu to back pain, I’ve navigated the whole doctor’s note more times than I can count. Trust me, I’ve got the stories (and notes) to prove it!

In this article, I’ll give you the top reasons doctor’s write sick notes for, how to get a note, employer verifications, and more!

Key Takeaways:

  • Health Comes First: Whether it’s a minor injury or a serious illness, your health should always be the priority.
  • Doctor’s Approval Matters: A sick note from a doctor legitimizes your absence, ensuring you get the necessary time off without work stress.
  • Wide Range of Valid Reasons: From mental health days to dental emergencies, there’s a broad spectrum of legitimate reasons to miss work.
  • Honesty is Crucial: Always be honest with your employer about your health situation and provide authentic doctor’s notes when required.

Work excuses from doctors

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The Most Common Work Excuses from Doctors for Missing Work

A doctor’s note is a written statement from a physician or other medically qualified health care provider confirming the results of a medical examination of a patient. It indicates whether the individual is fit or unfit for work.

Doctors typically issue these notes when a person’s medical condition affects their ability to perform work duties. 

Common reasons for needing a doctor’s note include:

  • Illness
  • Injury
  • Surgery
  • Contagious diseases
  • Mental health issues
  • Pregnancy and maternity leave
  • Chronic conditions
  • Recovery from surgery or medical treatment
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Doctor-ordered rest

These conditions may temporarily or permanently impede an employee’s ability to work, necessitating formal documentation for employers.

For extended leave, particularly in the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) becomes relevant. FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year while maintaining group health insurance coverage. 

It’s typically applicable for situations like serious health conditions, childbirth, or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. 

To utilize FMLA, the employee must provide appropriate medical certification to justify the extended leave, and the employer must adhere to FMLA guidelines to ensure legal compliance and the employee’s rights.


Got the flu or a nasty cold? It’s a no-brainer – stay home. Bringing a bug to the office is a surefire way to become the least popular person at work. Plus, you need time to kick back and recover.


Sprained your ankle during a weekend soccer game? A doctor’s note is your ticket to some well-deserved downtime. No need to limp around the office – get that foot up and relax.


Just had an operation? Recovery isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. A doctor’s note gives you the green light to take it easy and heal at your own pace.

Contagious Diseases

Walking into work with something contagious is like bringing a pie to a party – everyone gets a piece. Better to hand in a doctor’s note and keep those germs to yourself.

Mental Health Issues

Feeling overwhelmed or burnt out? Mental health is just as crucial as physical health. A doctor’s note can be your pause button, giving you time to recharge.

Pregnancy and Maternity Leave

Expecting or just had a baby? This is the time to focus on your little one. A doctor’s note makes it official – you’re on mom duty now.

Chronic Conditions

Managing a condition like diabetes or arthritis? Some days are harder than others. Use a doctor’s note to take a break when you need it most.

Recovery from Surgery or Medical Treatment

Just out of surgery or ongoing treatment? Rushing back to work isn’t wise. Let a doctor’s note be your permission slip to take it slow.

Severe Allergic Reactions

Had a severe allergic reaction? It’s not just about the immediate scare; it’s about recovery too. A doctor’s note gives you time to bounce back.

Doctor-Ordered Rest

Doctor says you need to rest? Sometimes, that’s the best medicine. A note from them is all you need to hit the pause button on work and focus on getting back to your best self.

How to Get a Doctor’s Note for Work

Need a doctor’s note? It’s not rocket science, but you’ll need to follow a few steps. 

  1. First, Call your doctor and schedule an appointment. 
  2. Explain your situation – whether it’s a sprained ankle or a bad case of the flu. At the appointment, your doctor will assess you and, if they agree you’re not fit for work, they’ll whip up a note explaining why you need time off. 
  3. Give the note to your boss – Once you’ve got your golden ticket, hand it over to your boss or HR. It’s your proof that you’re not just binging Netflix instead of working.

Some clinics might offer sick notes without a face-to-face visit, especially if it’s for something minor. This could be through a telehealth service or a quick call. Just remember, honesty’s the best policy here. Don’t try faking it – most bosses can smell a fake sick day a mile away. 

Call your Doctor for an Appointment

Hit up your doc for an appointment. Spill the beans about your health woes, be it a cough that won’t quit or a knee that’s seen better days.

Get Evaluated & Ask for a Sick Note

Show up, get checked. If the doc agrees you’re not your best self for work, they’ll write you a note.

You have to ask for a doctor’s note. It’s not always automatically given out. When you’re at your appointment, just mention that you need a note for work. 

Most doctors are used to this request and will happily provide one if they believe your health condition warrants time off. It’s a straightforward process: just be upfront about needing documentation for your employer.

Deliver the Note to Your Company

Pass the note to your boss or HR. It’s your get-out-of-work card, legit and all.

What Does a Typical Doctor’s Note Look Like?

A typical doctor’s note is like a hall pass for adults. It’s usually a simple piece of paper that says something like, “Hey, [Your Name] needs to sit this one out.” It doesn’t need to be a work of art, just official enough to show your boss you’re not playing hooky.

A doctor’s note typically includes:

  1. Date: When the note was written.
  2. Patient’s Name: That’s you!
  3. Statement of Medical Assessment: A brief, vague mention that you’ve been seen and assessed.
  4. Recommendation: Usually something like, “needs to rest” or “unfit for work.”
  5. Duration: How long you should be off work.
  6. Doctor’s Contact Information: In case your boss wants to double-check.
  7. Doctor’s Signature: The all-important scribble that makes it legit.

What makes your sick note official? The doctor’s signature and sometimes a stamp. That’s the doc’s way of saying, “I’ve got your back on this one.”

Doctor’s notes are often printed on specific letterhead. This letterhead usually includes the doctor’s or medical facility’s name, contact information, and sometimes their logo. The use of official letterhead adds to the note’s credibility, making it easily recognizable and authoritative.

And no, it’s not like a tell-all book. A doctor’s note doesn’t have to spill the beans on what’s wrong with you. Just a general “needs time off for health reasons” is enough. Privacy matters, folks! So, you won’t find a laundry list of your symptoms or diagnosis on there. 

Doctor’s Note Example

Here’s a sample template of what you might find on a doctor’s note:

[Doctor’s Name or Medical Facility’s Letterhead]

Date: [Date of Issue]

To Whom It May Concern,

This is to certify that I have examined [Patient’s Name] on [Date of Examination]. Based on my medical assessment, it is advised that [he/she/they] be excused from work/school due to medical reasons.

Recommended period of rest/absence: [Start Date] to [End Date].

Please feel free to contact my office at [Doctor’s Contact Information] if additional information is required.


[Doctor’s Signature]
[Doctor’s Name]
[Doctor’s Qualifications]
[Medical Facility’s Contact Information]

How Often Do Employers Validate Doctor’s Note Legitimacy?

Employers playing detective with your doctor’s note? Sometimes, yes. Your employer might call the doc to make sure it’s legit, especially if it looks a bit sketchy or if you’ve had a few too many sick days.

Can your boss ask for a sick note? Absolutely. It’s their way of making sure everyone’s playing fair. If you’re out for a while or it’s a company policy, expect to be asked for that note.

And about being benched until you hand in your note: Yep, that can happen. Some workplaces won’t let you come back to work until they’ve got that doctor’s note in hand. It’s all about covering their bases and making sure everyone’s fit to work.

Common Questions about Doctor’s Excuses for Work

The following are some of the most common questions about getting a doctor’s note for work.

How do I make a doctor’s excuse for work?

Making a fake doctor’s note? Bad idea, folks. 

First off, it’s dishonest. If you’re caught, it’s not just a slap on the wrist – we’re talking serious consequences. Your boss could show you the door, saying goodbye to your job. 

Plus, it’s actually illegal in many places, and dabbling in forgery can land you in hot water with the law. 

It’s a trust thing, too. Once you’re tagged as the one who cried “sick” with a bogus note, good luck getting your boss or coworkers to believe you next time. 

The bottom line: it’s not worth the risk.

What is a good excuse for a doctor’s note?

A good excuse for a doctor’s note is a legitimate health issue that impacts your ability to work. This includes conditions like a severe cold or flu, a physical injury that limits mobility, a mental health issue requiring time off, or a chronic medical condition that’s flaring up. 

The key is that it needs to be a genuine health concern where a doctor assesses and agrees that time off work is necessary for recovery or treatment. Remember, honesty is crucial here; fabricating an illness for a doctor’s note can lead to serious consequences.

Can a doctor refuse to let you go back to work?

Yes, a doctor can refuse to let you go back to work if they believe returning would be detrimental to your health. This typically happens when you’re recovering from an illness or injury and going back too soon could hinder your recovery or put you at risk. 

In such cases, the doctor will provide a note stating that you’re not yet fit for work. It’s important to follow your doctor’s advice in these situations for your own well-being.


A doctor’s note serves as formal documentation that a person is unfit for work due to medical reasons. 

Common reasons for needing a note include illnesses, injuries, surgeries, contagious diseases, mental health issues, pregnancy, chronic conditions, and recovery from medical treatments. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides guidelines for extended medical leave.

To get a doctor’s note, one must schedule an appointment, explain their condition, and explicitly request a note if needed. 

Employers have the right to ask for a doctor’s note and may verify its authenticity, especially if there’s a pattern of frequent absences.

A doctor may advise against returning to work if it could harm the patient’s health, and their recommendation should be followed for the individual’s well-being.

John is the founder of TightFist Finance and an expert in the field of personal finance. John has studied personal finance for over 10 years and has used his knowledge to pay down debt, grow his investment portfolio, and launch a financial based business. He is committed to sharing content related to personal finance based on his experience in his career, investing, and path towards reaching financial independence.