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How to Respond to a Family Emergency Email in an Effective Manner

How to Respond to a Family Emergency Email in an Effective Manner

Life is unpredictable, and at any moment, any one of us may have to face a family emergency that causes us to be unable to work. As a boss, in any capacity, you’re expected to know how to respond to a family emergency email effectively.

Responding to a family emergency email first and foremost requires compassion for the employee’s situation and urgency in giving directives. Knowing how to respond also entails using company policies as a guideline for handling these situations and upholding them to the best of your ability.

A balance must be found when dealing with a family emergency email from any of your employees. Let’s explore tips on how to respond to a family emergency email and provide different samples to guide your response.


Tips before responding to the family emergency email

Before you can even think about how to respond to a family emergency email, there are some things you must consider to help guide your response. This is the company aspect that should also be considered where there are established guidelines on how to approach these situations:

01Emergencies happen
As inconvenient as this might be for the company, remember that we’re all humans and emergencies can happen to anyone. Compassion should be present with all decisions made regarding where the employee goes from there.


01 emergency department doctors nurses surgeons move
Photo by Gorodenkoff on shutterstock


02Check the company’s policies on family emergency leave from work
What does company policy say regarding what constitutes a family emergency? Many countries have laws that already speak to family emergencies and leave, for instance, the U.S Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and often companies use these basic guidelines.
In certain cases, employers are expected to use their discretion but may require proof in the future for documentation purposes; for instance, where there is a death, you may need to provide bereavement benefits.


03It is important to respond as quickly as possible to the employee
In most cases, these matters are time-sensitive and will require a response right away. As best as possible, try to review the employee’s reason for needing time off work so you can give him/her a solid answer on how to proceed.


04Consider paid leave or non-paid leave for handling their family crisis
Find out if your employee qualifies for paid leave during this time. As best as possible, try to provide this option for your employees. Family emergencies are often expensive, and many people aren’t prepared for them. If they are not eligible for paid leave, be sure to inform the employee so he/she can prepare and make adjustments where necessary.


04 page title paid family leave gavel

Photo by Vitalii Vodolazskyi on shutterstock


05Prepare yourself for both short-term leave and long-time leave
Due to the sudden nature of family emergencies, you may have to prepare yourself for short-term and long-term leaves. This means looking for a replacement or temp as the employee navigates the crisis.



Compassion points that should be included in the response email

While every response will vary depending on the situation, the email should include the following compassion points. This lets your employee feel like you and/or the company cares, and it will take some of the burden off his/her shoulders:

01Show support
Be sure to thank your employee for the heads up. This is a stressful time, and contacting the workplace sometimes slips the mind of employees until the last minute. Show your support and empathize with your employee who is already experiencing a difficult time.


01 closeup serious business woman supporting colleague
Photo by Mangostar on shutterstock


02Find out how you can help
It’s important as an employer to try to lift your employee’s spirits during this time. It’s good for the employee and great for workplace morale. For instance, figuring out how to reduce workload for a certain period, or how to support his/her family.


03Give the employee time and space
No one wants to be hounded about work in a stressful time. If you value the well-being of your employee, be sure to let him/her know that he/she can take as much time as needed.


03 happy diverse professional business team stand

Photo by fizkes on shutterstock


How to respond to a family emergency email: 6 email templates

Family emergencies can come in different forms, whether something positive, like the birth of your new-born, or a devastating event, such as the death of a family member. Here are some examples of how to respond to a family emergency email in 6 different scenarios:

01Birth of a new-born
“Congratulations on the birth of your new baby! This is a life-changing event that you should feel proud of. Take these [number of weeks] away to bond with your new baby and get acclimatised to life as new parents. In the meantime, you will definitely be missed around the office, and we can’t wait to meet the latest addition to your beautiful family!”


01 baby crying after birth labor room

Photo by Fakhrul Najmi on shutterstock


02Car accident of an immediate family member
“We are sorry about the accident that happened with your son. Fortunately, he’s now in recovery and will be discharged from the hospital soon. The process may be long, but at the end of the journey, there’s healing to be had.
We aren’t expecting you back at the office yet, however, we’re all prepared to lend a helping hand where possible. All the best!”


02 injured girl sitting beside the car after accident street

Photo by tommaso79 on shutterstock


03Serious illness of close family member
“I just received your email about your [insert family member]’s diagnosis of [insert illness] and wanted to reach out to let you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Having experienced first-hand what this illness means for the family unit, I am ready to extend whatever assistance you or your family may need during this time.
May the healing hands of the doctors cover not only your [family member], but the hearts and minds of your family as you navigate this tough time.”


03 close up photo of woman nasal cannula worried husband

Photo by CandyBox Images on shutterstock


04Immediate family member experiencing a natural disaster
“The [insert name/place/date of natural disaster] has been tough on a lot of families and it has been unfortunate to learn that your [insert family member] has been caught in the destruction and devastation that has since unfolded.
Our company prides itself on operating as a family, and the well-being of your family becomes near and dear to us as a result. Your [family member] automatically qualifies to benefit from our company’s [insert name/place/date of natural disaster] relief efforts. Should any further or special assistance be required, do not hesitate to contact me to discuss this matter.
We’re committed to helping your family rebuild and regain a sense of normalcy. Until then, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”


04 man and his wife owners checking burned

Photo by Vlad Teodor on shutterstock


05Death and subsequent funeral planning for a family member
“My condolences on behalf of the [insert name of company] company on the passing of your [family member] this [insert time period]. As you take this time to grieve, reflect on the blessing that was his/her life and find peace in knowing it was a life well-lived.
While I have not received any request for time off, remember you are entitled to paid bereavement days to spend with your family or for reflection. If there’s any other way we can help reduce your workload during this process, we’re open to offering our support.”


05 people mourning woman beside coffin white lily

Photo by Syda Productions on shutterstock


06An experience or event that can put a family member’s mental health at risk
“The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down and has changed life as we know it. This experience has taken a huge toll on our employees, their families, friends and the people around them.
It comes as no surprise that the overwhelming pressures from isolation, sickness and the death toll has led to the significant mental decline of the ones closest to us.
Having reviewed your request for time off to act as a caretaker for your [family member] for mental health reasons, I want to personally commend you for stepping up and committing yourself to his/her recovery. And should more time be needed, do not hesitate to contact me to discuss an extension on your leave.
All the best in the healing process!”


06 healthcare worker protective equipment performs coronavirus swab test

Photo by Noiel on shutterstock



Tips after they’ve returned to work

After you respond to the family emergency email, the proper etiquette is to follow up with the employee after they’re returned to work. Ask how he/she is doing and if there’s anything further you can do to help.
Here’s another template you can use to reach out to your employee once back at work:
“It’s a pleasure having you back at work. Your presence was greatly missed.
I’ll encourage you to take it easy as you get back into the flow of things and to not try to do too much at once. We’re all just happy you’re back; no one is expecting you to be at full speed just yet.
If there’s anything else we can do to make this transition back to the workplace go more smoothly, we’re all ears!” 

young people face masks back work elbow
Photo by Halfpoint on shutterstock



Being a boss means you’ll have to deal with any number of different situations regarding your employees. Knowing how to respond to a family emergency email is just one of them.
Now that you know how to respond to a family emergency email, your employees will feel more comfortable coming to you in the future and the process will go seamlessly.