How to deal with long term sickness at work

How to deal with long term sickness at work

How to deal with your employer if you anticipate long term absence with illness

We all get ill from time to time, and the average UK private sector worker is absent from work for around six days per year with illness. But how should you handle things with your employer if you get an illness (or injury) that is more than just a one or two-day bug?

The key thing is to keep your employer informed at all times during your illness. Let them know as soon as practically possible that you may have a serious issue, or get a relative or friend to do this if you are incapacitated.

After seven days of absence, you must provide a ‘fit note’, otherwise known as a ‘sick note’, from a doctor. If the doctor believes you will remain unfit for work for a further period, this is likely to be confirmed in the note, and the note should be provided to your company.

Keep your company informed as to the progress of your condition. If you begin to recover, and the doctor then provides a note suggesting you may be fit to return to work in some capacity, it’s time to open discussions with your employer. It may be practical for you to return to work in a part-time capacity or with some form of additional flexibility in your working arrangements, at least until you have recovered further. Alternatively, it may be mutually agreed that you will return to work on ‘reduced tasks’, or even in a different role altogether, perhaps one that is less stressful. You can ask either your GP or your employer to refer you to a government assessment scheme called Fit Too Work for an independent assessment.

Ensure that you get the pay you are entitled to during your absence. Statutory sick pay is paid at £88.45 per week (2016/17 tax year) for up to 28 weeks once you have been absent for four consecutive working days. Many companies, especially larger ones, have generous sick pay arrangements of their own, and staff who are sick may even be entitled to six months on full pay and six months on half pay.

Ultimately, your employer can dismiss you after a period of long-term sickness, but they must first explore all options for alternative ways of working that could accommodate your long-term condition.

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