Time off from work
Employers do have responsibilities towards their employees and this includes managing both planned and unplanned sick leave - and helping their staff plan a return to work.
If you take time off, try to keep in touch with your employer during the time you are away from work.
This may include:
- keeping in regular contact
- asking to be kept up to date with what's happening at work
- asking about your colleagues
- asking for reassurance that details about your illness or disability remain confidential, if that's what you want
This should help you feel less isolated and lessen any worries you may have about taking time off and/or returning to work.
Statutory Sick Pay
If you are an employee and unable to work because of an illness or disability, you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Some employers have their own sick pay scheme instead.
If you're still unable to work after 28 weeks, or you cannot get Statutory Sick Pay, you can apply for Employment and Support Allowance.
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Employment and Support Allowance
Keeping your job open
Your employer should not put pressure on you to resign because you have become disabled. Dismissing someone simply because they become disabled is likely to be direct discrimination which is unlawful.
You employer should consider whether there are changes that they could make at work to enable you to carry out your job. These are known as 'reasonable adjustments'. Reasonable adjustments may include things like:
- a phased return to work – perhaps working flexible hours or part-time
- time off for medical treatment or counselling
- allocating to another employee some tasks that can no longer be done easily by you
- providing practical aids and technical equipment for you
Businesses and organisations vary in structure and size, so what may be 'reasonable' for one may not be so for another.
Depending on your disability, a return to the same role may not be appropriate.
Your employer could speak to a Disability Employment Adviser at a Jobcentre Plus office to understand their responsibilities towards employees who are, or who have become, disabled and to discuss a solution to any problems there may be. This could include the 'Access to Work' scheme. For more information, visit the Directgov Website at www.direct.gov.uk.
Planning to return to work
Discuss with your employer how they, and you, will manage helping you to return to work.
If you and your employer agree to formally let other people know about your disability (which may be a 'hidden' disability such as diabetes or a mental health condition) you should sign a consent form which gives your employer permission to tell one or more named individual(s). This is to comply with the Data Protection Act.
If you have to take time off for disability-related sick leave, it is good practice for your employer to record it separately from any sick absences which are not related to your disability.
If you are away from work because you are waiting for your employer to put reasonable adjustments in place, or for training in their use, this should not be recorded as an 'absence from work'.
An employer may be able to dismiss you if your disability means that it is impossible for you to carry out the main parts of your job, even if all reasonable adjustments were put in place.
This may include considering whether you could carry out another suitable job. For example, it may not be possible to move you into another role in an organisation if it is a small one, and therefore dismissing you may be fair.
If an employer is considering making people redundant, the reasons for selecting people for redundancy should not discriminate against disabled people. For example, having to work flexible hours or taking time off for disability-related sickness should not be a reason.
The information above is taken from the Directgov Website at www.direct.gov.uk.