Being ill at work can often cause severe problems, therefore its essential that both you and your employers know the law around it.

Short term absence

Being ill is obviously an unavoidable feeling that we all go through in life from time to time, therefore by law you are legally allowed to self-certify your illness for the first seven days. However, if the illness continues then a visit to your doctor to receive a ‘fit note’ (or more commonly known as a sick note).

Long term absence

Once the absence has been noted for a longer period (individual to each company), you will then be considered as being on ‘long term absence’. During this time, it is normal for your employer to keep regular contact in order to be updated of your condition. However, your employer should give you a choice of either keeping in contact either verbally or written – whichever you feel most comfortable with.

There are two scenarios which can occur after long term sick: Being fit and well to return to work or alternatively not being well enough to return after a longer period (usually around 12-24 months) in which your employer may look at terminating your contract, for the benefit of your own health and the company.

  • If returning to work is an option – a return to work meeting should be held beforehand, which will discuss your health and wellbeing, and what will be the best solution going forward. This could include working flexibility with different hours, if full time – whether going part time is an option, different or less stressful job description and whatever else your employer feels you may need to cope with returning to work successfully.
  • If returning to work is not an option – your employer may look at terminating your contract, in order for you to focus on recovering, and also for the company to look at hiring someone to replace you. However, this will most likely be a final resort for your employer.

Other points to remember

  • Statutory holiday is still accrued whilst off sick
  • Statutory holiday that is not used because of illness can be carried on to the next year
  • When returning to work from long term sick – employers should make reasonable adjustments. This can include working shorter hours or adapting equipment that you would regularly use at work.

If you have been affected by anything in this article and feel you may have been unfairly dismissed or treated incorrectly, get in contact with us here at Jordans and we’ll be happy to listen to your case. Contact us on 033 03001103.


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