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I'm working as a waiter in a restaurant and I can't go to work for a few days. So I wanted to ask my friend to go to work instead of me.

Is there any expression to ask this to my friend and to tell my boss?

I got some words for this but not sure if it's right: replace, substitute, backup.

And which one can be used in an informal situation (to friend) and a formal situation?

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I don't think any of those three choices are particularly good in this case. Maybe replace, as in "Can you replace me for a few days?"

I can think of two ways to phrase it:

  1. Can you go into work for me for a few days?
  2. Can you cover for me for a few days?

The bolded for indicates that the friend will go to work on your behalf. Cover is the verb I know that people use when they want to ask a friend to work for them when they're sick, have an appointment, or even when they want to sneak out (leave without permission). In my opinion, you can use either with a friend or boss. Here's a definition of cover from M-W:

cover
2 : to act as a substitute or replacement during an absence • a stand-in covering for an injured star

  • No problem. Please consider waiting longer before accepting an answer. It gives others a chance to post more answers and vet existing ones. :) – Em. Jul 7 '18 at 4:49

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