Can You Be Sacked for Sickness Absence? UK Laws & Fair Dismissal Procedures Explained

UK Immigration Blog

When it comes to employment law, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “Can I be sacked for being off sick?” The answer is not as straightforward as a simple yes or no. It depends on various factors, including the nature of the illness, the length of the absence, and the impact on the business. This article will delve into the UK laws surrounding sickness absence and fair dismissal procedures, providing a comprehensive guide for both employers and employees.

Understanding Sickness Absence

Sickness absence refers to the period an employee is off work due to illness. It’s a common occurrence in every workplace, and it’s essential for employers to have a clear policy in place to manage it effectively. This policy should include sickness monitoring procedures to track and manage employee absences.

Off sick reasons can vary widely, from minor ailments like colds and flu to more serious long-term health conditions. Regardless of the reason, employers must handle sickness absence fairly and consistently.

Can You Be Sacked for Being Off Sick?

The question “Can you get sacked for being off sick?” is a common concern among employees. The answer is that while it is possible, it’s not something that should happen without due process. Employers must follow fair dismissal procedures, which include:

  • Investigating the reasons for the absence
  • Considering alternatives to dismissal
  • Consulting with the employee
  • Providing warnings where appropriate

Dismissing a long-term sick employee is a sensitive issue that requires careful handling. Employers must consider whether the employee can return to work, possibly with reasonable adjustments, or if there are alternative roles they could fill.

Can You Be Sacked While Off Sick?

Another common question is, “Can you be sacked while off sick?” The answer is yes, but only under specific circumstances. If an employee’s absence is causing significant difficulties for the business and there’s no likelihood of them returning to work in the near future, an employer may consider dismissal.

However, employers must be careful not to discriminate against employees with disabilities. If the employee’s sickness amounts to a disability under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to help them return to work.

Can You Get Fired for Calling in Sick?

When it comes to the question, “Can you get fired for calling in sick?” the answer is generally no. Occasional sickness absence is normal and should not result in dismissal. However, if an employee is frequently off sick and it’s affecting their ability to do their job, an employer may consider termination due to attendance issues.

Terminating an Employee on Sick Leave

Terminating an employee on sick leave is a complex process that must be handled with care. Employers must follow a fair procedure, which includes:

  • Keeping in regular contact with the employee
  • Obtaining medical evidence
  • Considering the employee’s views and exploring ways to help them return to work
  • Considering the impact of the employee’s absence on the business

If an employer fails to follow a fair procedure, the dismissal could be deemed unfair, and the employee could bring a claim for unfair dismissal.

Can I Sack Someone Who Is Off Sick?

If you’re an employer wondering, “Can I sack someone who is off sick?” the answer is that it’s possible, but only as a last resort. Before considering dismissal, you should explore all other options, such as making adjustments to the employee’s working conditions or offering alternative roles.

Can You Dismiss Someone on Sick Leave?

The question “Can you dismiss someone on sick leave?” is similar to the previous one. Yes, it’s possible, but only after following a fair and thorough procedure. Dismissal should always be the last resort, and employers must be able to demonstrate that they’ve done everything they can to support the employee’s return to work.


In conclusion, while it is possible for an employee to be dismissed due to sickness absence, it’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. Employers must follow a fair procedure and consider all alternatives before resorting to dismissal. Employees, on the other hand, should be aware of their rights and the protections in place to ensure they’re treated fairly.

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Teresa Aldridge
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VisaHelpUK - UK Immigration and Visa Application Advice Service
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