Edit Content

Northern Europe

Central Europe

Central Africa

Oracle Solicitors Logo



The Impact of Sick Days on Business: Employer’s Rights and Responsibilities

Have you got a question?

Sickness absence can have numerous direct and indirect impacts on businesses; from having to find, train and pay for temporary cover, the possibility of reduced customer satisfaction, or reduction in productivity (to name but a few examples).  Frustration can therefore arise amongst employers when employees are absent for sickness, particularly when the absent employee carries out a key role.  

It is an employee’s right to take time off work if they are sick and there is no legal limit on how many sick days employees can take. Employers therefore often feel unsure about how they are to deal with sickness absence.  

Sick leave – different scenarios

The nature or frequency of the sickness absence can raise different issues for an employer.  

Employers may find some employees taking frequent short-term absences (for example, repeated absences on a particular day of the week, or just before a monthly deadline or towards the end of a busy shift cycle); these may raise concerns from a disciplinary perspective.   

Other cases may involve longer-term sick leave, or evidence of an underlying longer-term medical issue.    

With longer-term sick leave in particular, employers should note that sickness absence may result from a “disability” (within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010).   At each stage of a sickness absence meetings procedure, consideration should be given as to whether there are reasonable adjustments that could be made to the requirements of a job or other aspects of working arrangements that will provide support at work and/or assist a return to work – it is a requirement of the Equality Act that reasonable adjustments are considered in relation to employees with a disability.  

It is important for employers to consider the reasons behind the absence (and seek further medical information and advice where necessary), check and follow the organisation’s policies and consider their legal obligations carefully. When reviewing an employee’s sickness absence record any patterns which cause concern should be identified and discussed. It is also important to ensure that employees are aware of and follow any sickness absence notification obligations (e.g. providing medical “fit notes” when required). Most policies will have thresholds that will trigger sickness absence meetings (often stages 1-3, with 3 being a final meeting).   

Is dismissal appropriate?

A question that is often asked by employers is whether an employer can dismiss an employee because of their sickness absence. The short answer is “yes”, provided it is justifiable to do so and appropriate fair and reasonable procedures have been followed.  There can be adverse consequences for employers that deal with sickness absence in the wrong way, including potential claims for:- 

  • Unfair dismissal; 
  • Breach of contract; and/or 
  • Disability discrimination (arising from a failure to consider reasonable adjustments, or dismissal for a reason related to disability which is not justified by the employer). 

Overall, employers should proactively monitor and address sickness absence; managing it in a fair and transparent way.  They should also ensure that employees are fully aware of their responsibilities.       

If you are interested in learning more or have a question regarding sickness then get in touch with our commercial team or call us on 020 3051 5060. 

Book a call back

Fill out our form and one of our experts will get back to you.
Landing Page - Get In Touch - Callback

Share this article

Got a question?

Please complete this form to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one member of our team.

Landing - Contact Form

Related posts

Marta Maiulli
Oncological Oblivion: Inclusion as the Objective

A definitive law for oncological oblivion, namely the opportunity for individuals who have recovered from an oncological condition to erase the ‘bureaucratic’ negative effects that the disease still imposes on employment searches, adoptions, mortgage applications, or insurance subscriptions. 

Read More

Got a question?

Please complete this form to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one member of our team.

Landing - Contact Form

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.