Sickness and absence from work can be difficult and stressful. There is often an overlap with disability discrimination and making sure your rights are protected is key.
If you are away from work because you are unwell, either physically or mentally, you are entitled to a range of sickness and absence rights, including the right to be paid statutory sick pay.
Your employer should follow their set process for dealing with sickness absence and you should also comply with this procedure, following their reporting and notification requirements.
At Toner Legal, we specialise in employment law for employees. If you are concerned that your employer is not following a fair process in dealing with your absence or you have not received statutory sick pay, we can represent you in making a claim.
We know how difficult it is to start a legal case involving your employer, particularly if you have been unwell. Our employment lawyers are supportive and understanding and will give you the help you need.
Our sickness and absence rights services
We deal with all aspects of absence and sickness rights for employees, including:
- Advice for employees on long-term sick leave
- Representation if you have not received the sick pay you are entitled to
- Representation if your employer has not made reasonable adjustments to help you on your return to work
- Advice and representation if you have been unfairly dismissed following sick leave
- Advice if you have not been notified about issues while away, such as promotions or risk of redundancy
When should I tell my employer I am off sick?
You should notify your employer on the first day of your absence that you are unwell and let them know when you anticipate being able to return. You should contact them every day until you have a sick note, generally referred to as a fit note.
You should also check your employment contract, employee handbook or other policy document to see what steps your employer requires you to take in the case of sickness absence and ensure that you follow these.
Do I have to get a sick note if I am off work sick?
You can self-certify yourself as being sick for up to seven calendar days. After this, you should obtain a fit note, which is often referred to as a sick note. A doctor, nurse, occupational therapist, pharmacist or physiotherapist is authorised to provide this. If the fit note expires and you are still too unwell to go to work, you should ask for another one.
Your fit notes should be sent to your employer and should cover all days of your absence beyond the first week.
A fit note can also make recommendations if you will need your employer to adapt the way in which you work when you return.
Sickness and Absence – Am I entitled to sick pay?
If you are classed as an employee, have carried out work for your employer and earned an average of at least £123 per week, you are entitled to statutory sick pay if you have been ill for at least four consecutive days.
You should also check your employment contract, as your employer may pay more than the statutory minimum.
How long can I be off sick?
Statutory sick pay is paid for up to 28 weeks in any three-year period. It is payable from the fourth day of absence and for all of the days you are away except the first three. The payment should be made by your employer in the same way that they usually pay you.
Can my employer contact me if I am off sick?
Your employer is allowed to contact you while you are off sick. If it is a long-term absence, they should stay in contact to check on your wellbeing and to see whether they can provide any support. They should agree with you on the method of communication, who the contact will be with and how often they will be in touch.
Your employer should also update you on issues you may have an interest in, including opportunities for promotion, the risk of redundancy and planned changes within the business.
Can I be sacked for being off sick?
If you have 2-years of service, you can only be dismissed if your employer has a legally fair reason, for example, if they believe that you are not able to do your job or that there has been misconduct. Sick leave (known as capability in law) is potentially one of their fair reasons. If you have less than 2-years of service, there are potentially other claims, such as discrimination claims (if your sickness was due to a disability) that may apply.
If you are dismissed during sick leave and you believe that this is unfair or that your employer did not follow the correct procedure, you are strongly advised to speak to an employment lawyer. Our team can advise you of your rights and represent you in making a claim where necessary.
What happens to my holiday leave if I am off sick?
You will continue to accrue holiday, up to four weeks, if you are off sick. If you are sick during your scheduled holiday, you can rearrange it. You should put your request to do this in writing to your employer. If you are not able to take your holiday at another time, you can carry forward up to four weeks into the next holiday year.
You can also take unused holiday at the end of a period of sick leave.
You are entitled to paid holiday if you are on long-term sick leave. You should request this in the normal way and your employer should switch you from sick pay to holiday pay for your holiday period.
Contact our employment lawyers for absence and sickness rights
If you are concerned about your absence and sickness rights, ring and speak to one of our team. We can establish whether your employer has handled your case correctly and represent you in dealing with them if they have not.