Do you feel alienated at work due to long term sickness?

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Richard Gregory

Consultant Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411


Ill-health happens to us all. Whether it’s a debilitating cold, a recurring ailment, or a long-term mental or physical condition that keeps us off work, employers must cater for this. They must have systems in place that enable employees to feel that they can take time off when they’re unwell, and to help reintroduce people into work once they have recovered.

While many employers are very good at this, others are not. Empathy is sometimes in short supply. And commercial pressures often mean that businesses – particularly smaller companies - cannot tolerate repeated days off, or long periods of time in which employees are simply not around. The law recognises this, and allows employers to manage employee absence, provided this is done in a fair and reasonable way.

And that is the crux of this. An employee who takes sick leave is (as is every employee in every situation) entitled to be treated fairly and reasonably. A feeling of alienation, or of being otherwise dealt with badly because of long-term absence, isn’t something that an employee must simply accept. Your employer should understand why you are off work; it’s really important that they appreciate the full medical context, including your prognosis and the difficulties that are preventing you from returning. They should also form a considered view on whether you qualify as disabled, for employment law purposes. If you do, there are additional measures that should be implemented to ensure that you are supported and are not disadvantaged (although employers should really do this irrespective of the question of disability).

One of the most prominent themes that we encounter among clients who have been off work on long-term sick leave is deep concern that they will lose their job. While in some circumstances employment does have to be brought to an end, that is not an inevitability. In fact, we have advised clients on situations in which valuable employees are successfully brought back to work after a lengthy period of sick leave. Handled correctly, this can produce the best results for everyone.

But we have also represented many employees whose employers have got things badly wrong. And in those cases, we’ve helped clients negotiate favourable settlements, or have advised them about an Employment Tribunal claim against their employers, including claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.

Early advice is crucial. Work-related difficulties are often easily resolved, but this does require the right steps to be taken, in the right way, at the right time.

Contact Richard Gregory today on 01264 325811, email: or fill in our no obligation enquiry form on our website and we will be happy to run through your particular circumstances with you.


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