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Informing Your Employer You Are Absent

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 21 Oct 2013 | comments*Discuss
Health Illness Sick Sickness Leave

Unfortunately, illness is a part of life. We all would prefer to be fit and healthy until way into our nineties, but it doesn’t always work out like that.

Being ill is no fun, so it is worth getting as organised as possible so that you are not adding employer stress on top of your already difficult schedule.

There is a great difference between being off work sick for a few days because of flu, or a week or two because of a broken bone to a long term illness that disrupts your whole life. In the first scenario, you will be able to get away with the odd call to your boss to explain how you are feeling and then just go back to work as soon as possible. For the second, more difficult situation, you will undoubtedly have enough on your plate to be worrying about keeping your employer happy.

A Short Term Illness

If you have a short term illness, you will need to keep your employer informed of your situation. On the first day that you do not feel well enough to go into work, you must call your boss or line manager as early as possible. In most 9 – 5.30 type working environments, you would be expected to call by 10am at the very latest.

When you phone, there is no need to put on a cough and a splutter for their benefit, but don’t sound as bright as you can either! Say that you feel awful and need to have a day a bed. Tell them that you will aim to come into work the next day – there is nothing more irritating than an employee who plans to have more time off than they need! If you do not feel better the next day, call again. Most employers will accept that their staff will take one or two days off sick and so will not expect you to bring in a doctors certificate when you return.

If you are off sick for more than three days, however, it is common to be asked for a doctor’s certificate, fill in a sickness absence for or have a return to work interview conducted by your boss or HR manager.

If you find yourself regularly taking one or two days off sick, perhaps you need to reassess your career choice and your general health. Perhaps the job does not suit you, or you find the hours or commuting too stressful. Your employers may be sympathetic if you talk to them, but do not let it go on for too long or you will simply annoy your colleagues and employer.

A Long Term Illness

If you have been diagnosed with an illness that will require you to take time off work, you will need to speak to your boss or HR manager as soon as possible. Check your employee handbook to understand your rights in your particular place of work and look at the government website to be clear about statutory sick pay regulations.

Many large employers have long term sickness policies that take into account their workforce and so, if you are employed by such an organisation, there can be a great deal of support available. However, small companies can be in a difficult position if one of their staff is diagnosed with a long term illness as they would usually want to be supportive but find it difficult to cover inevitable absences.

While you are away from work, do keep your employer informed of any hospital appointments or changes in your condition. A regular email may suffice, or you could arrange to meet if appropriate. Many people find that the manner in which they were treated by their employer when on sick leave determines how keen they are to return to work there after they get better.

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I have been off work since the end of Christmas due to cervical prolapse discs and an arthritic condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis. I am wondering if my employer can cease my contract when my statuary support allowance stops ( totaling a 12 month period of sickness) or am I covered under the Disability Act as my arthritic condition is classed as a disability ie can they cease my employment at a later date?
Charlie - 21-Oct-13 @ 1:46 PM
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