Career Advice

Sick and Tired: The Dos and Don'ts of Calling in Sick as a Temp

Posted by John
min read
Brittany Colette  Cdn2n T Kfr A Unsplash

When you are working as a temp, it is because the organisation needs an extra pair of hands. Whether it is to cover a holiday, sick leave or to assist with a large scale project, temps are a valuable resource to a business, and they are hired for a specific reason and need. Commitment is key for any temp role, and I would always advise people to fully complete a temporary assignment, ensuring they don't burn their bridges with either their recruiter or the business for which they are working. Sydney is a large city – but it is a small job market – and people talk. 

However, with the plagues of flu, stomach bugs and other weird and wonderful viruses doing the rounds, it is inevitable that at some point a temp may need to call in sick for work. And there are ways of doing this the right way. Here is what to do and also what not to do if you have to call in sick when you are working in your temporary assignment.


  • Always call your consultant first thing in the morning – no excuses. Consultants give you their mobile number for a reason. Put it in your phone on your first day of work.

  • If you call and have to leave a voicemail, try to call again in ten minutes, and if you can’t get through, send a follow up text or email.

  • Consultants are technically your employer, so always call them first, before contacting your line manager at your temp role.

  • Call your consultant that afternoon and keep them updated as to whether you will be returning to work the next morning.

  • If you go to the doctor and are signed off, make sure to obtain a medical certificate and scan a copy and send to your recruiter.


  • Don't say anything and assume your consultant will just know – we are not mind readers. If we have not heard from you and neither has the line manager, we will call your emergency contact, and you will get in trouble from your mother. In extreme cases, we have to file a missing persons report. No joke, this has happened.

  • Don't just tell your friend at work and assume that is enough as you have told someone – it isn't.

  • Don't just send an email. Your consultant could be out on client visits and not get the email until they are back in the office. Always call.

  • Don't inform your consultant you are ill at 9:15am when you were due in at 9.00am. Consultants would much rather hear about it at 7.00am  (or even earlier) and have the chance to organise a replacement for the day instead of being in a scrambled panic once the working day has begun.

  • Don't say you couldn't find my number – even if you have misplaced my business card, my emails and your temp contract, Google the recruitment office and call the main switch number.

  • Don't go incommunicado and keep us in the dark about returning to work. If we can't get hold of you, it makes us nervous about whether you will show up at all.

  • Don't call in sick before or after a long weekend – being hungover is not the same as being ill.