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Dismissed whilst on sick leave

Sarah Everton

17 January 2018

Can you be dismissed while on sick leave?

Can an employer dismiss somebody when they're on sick leave? This is a question that we are often asked.

Employers have to act fairly and reasonably and follow their or some kind of procedure; this is whether it is long-term sickness absence or short-term absences.

Expert employment solicitor Sarah Everton explains and answers some questions on sickness pay and being dismissed whilst on sick leave.

Can an employer dismiss an employee who is continually taking sick leave?

Employers can potentially dismiss an employee who is continually taking sick leave; however, they would need to establish what the reason for the sickness is. It's important to do this primarily to consider if there are things that could if the sickness is likely to continue because if it's not going to continue it wouldn't be reasonable to dismiss. And also to establish if there may be an underlying disability, if there was an underlying disability it may be discriminatory to dismiss the employee and there may be a duty to make reasonable adjustments, which could enable their employment to continue.

An employer wouldn't want to dismiss an employee without a series of warnings, if it was infrequent short-term absences or obtaining medical evidence in any event to establish what the issue is and the prospects for employment in the future.

Can an employee take time off for medical appointments?

If you have to have time off to go see your GP it's often difficult to arrange this outside of working hours. Your employer will expect you to try and arrange outside of working hours and they're under no duty there's no statutory duty for an employer to pay you to attend GP appointments. This is not the case if its maternity related and the prospective mother and prospective father can attend antenatal appointments. However, if it was a routine GP appointment or one related to sickness then you should discuss this with your employee and potentially they take time off as unpaid time or they could arrange to work back the hours unless you agreed in this instance to choose to pay them.