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Losing your Job due to long term sickness                                absence

If your employer has asked to speak with you with regards to your long term sickness absence it can be difficult to know where to turn.

Here are a few words of advice that will hopefully help you whether you are being offered Early Retirement or being “let go” by your employer.

Most employers will ask you to attend a meeting to discuss your future employment. Before this meeting happens….


· Ask for the Company’s Sickness Absence Procedure. This should lay out precisely what your employer is supposed to do. It may detail “triggers” for dealing with Long Term Sickness Absence or timescales for Company Sick Pay etc.

· If your Employer does not have a written Sickness Absence Procedure they should inform you of this and hopefully explain how they want to deal with the situation.


Be realistic. Are you going to recover sufficiently to return to work? How long before you are likely to be ready to return?

Frequently Asked Questions

“Can I not just return to work?”

This of course depends on your illness/disability and how it affects you. If you *want* to return to work you should always make this clear. However, your Employer may not wish to wait for the length of time that your Doctors think it may take you to recover, so be realistic.

“What is Reasonable Adjustment?”

Your Employer has to make “reasonable adjustment” for you under the Equalities Act and this is where your “Fit Note” (used to be called a “sick note”) comes in as your GP or Specialist can recommend what measures need to be taken for your safe return to work. What is “reasonable” may depend on the size of the Company. As an example an International Bank with several thousand employees is more likely to be able to make adjustments than a Company with a tiny office and 2 employees! What is reasonable can be defined by cost as well as practicality.

A few examples of reasonable adjustment are a reduction in hours, a phased return to work, a special chair or moving your office to the Ground Floor.

“Where can I get help?”

If you are a member of a Union you need to call them as soon as possible, especially if your Employer has asked to discuss the possible termination of your employment. This is absolutely the BEST representation you can have in this situation as they will have experience of dealing with this and can advise both you and your Employer if necessary.

“What if I am not in a Union?”

Ask a friend or colleague to go to the meeting with you. Tell your employer that you are bringing xx (name them) as your “Mackenzie Friend” (fancy name for a witness). They can then take notes for you, enabling you to concentrate on talking the matter over.

Contact ACAS for help. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) is a Crown non-departmental public body of the Government of the United Kingdom. Its purpose is to improve organisations and working life through the promotion and facilitation of strong industrial relations practice. You can contact them here: -


Company Sick Pay – check your Company rules with regards to how much sick pay you will receive and how long for. Once this runs out you may be able to apply for Statutory Sick Pay.

Statutory Sick Pay -

Employment Support Allowance – this is dealt with in several files on the Group


If your Company decide that you can no longer feasibly remain employed they may offer you an Occupational Pension. You should also look at any other policies you have personally to see if they will pay out if you are no longer able to work.


If you have been paying National Insurance Contributions during your employment it is likely that you will be placed on to Contribution Based ESA.

If your Occupational/Private Pension gives a “Lump Sum” when it goes in to payment this will NOT affect Contribution Based ESA – however, if you are on Income Based ESA it will. You DO NOT have to inform the DWP of any Lump Sum if your ESA is Contribution Based. HOWEVER, you DO have to inform them of any Pension you are receiving.

If you have a workplace pension or a personal pension (including permanent health insurance payments) that pays more than £85 per week, Contributory ESA will be reduced by half of the gross amount over this limit.

For example, if you receive £95 per week (before tax) from a personal pension, Contributory ESA is reduced by £5 (half of the amount over £85). if you have more than one workplace or personal pension, they are added together for this calculation.

  ©A1 ESA/DLA/PIP Benefits Help and Support (UK only) 

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