How long can you be on sick leave before dismissal - Paul Doran Law

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How long can you be on sick leave before dismissal

long term sick payHow long can you be on sick leave before dismissal?

Here’s the short answer… Sick leave counts as ‘long-term’ after four weeks. There is no maximum period of sickness absence but your employer should allow a “reasonable” length for you to recover.

Here’s the long answer…

If you’re frequently off sick or ill-health means you’re off work for a long time, this gives your employer a problem. They may eventually reach a point where they feel they have to end your contract of employment and dismiss you so they can hire someone else.

It’s bad enough being ill without losing your job too! So what does the law say about your rights in this situation?

Length of service matters in this case. Have you worked there for two years? If yes, you are protected against being dismissed unfairly.

To be fair in law, a dismissal must be due to one of these five reasons:

If the dismissal is due to long-term sick leave, they might give the reason of capability, because you can no longer physically do your job.

Your employer will need to prove that dismissal was reasonable in the circumstances. In addition, they must follow a fair process when dismissing you.

For example, before it reaches the dismissal stage, your employer should:

The usual process

You are legally required to submit a fit note from a doctor after seven consecutive days of absence. There is no legal obligation for you to tell your employer the reason why you’re off sick.

You’ll be invited to a capability hearing. This might be in the workplace, in your own home, a neutral location or remotely, depending on what you can manage, considering your illness.

You can invite a trade union representative or work colleague to attend with you for support.

You should get a written record afterwards.

Some exceptions

If you are under 55 and have a long-term health condition that means you won’t be able to return to work, you may be able to claim early retirement on the grounds of ill-health, also known as being ‘medically retired’.

If you have a terminal illness, you may decide to continue working for as long as possible, or you may prefer to leave work quickly. Your employer should listen to your wishes and support your plans as much as possible. Your pension scheme might allows for a lump sum payment to be made.

To find out more, check the criteria in your pension scheme.

What this means to you

Your employer should have a written sickness absence policy (the best place to look is your staff handbook). This should include:

We act for employees in dispute with their employers. If you’re facing dismissal due to long-term sick leave, or have recently lost your job, let us know. You may be able to claim for unfair dismissal and/or discrimination, win back your job, or be paid compensation.

Related reading

If you found this information useful, you might also like to read our related articles. These include:

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