There are three particular areas of employment law which offer you protection:
- Your employer has a legal obligation to protect you when you return to work from sickness (under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974) if you are more vulnerable to risk because of injury, illness or disability.
- Your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments if your illness or injury constitutes a disability (under the Equality Act 2010) and they must not treat you less favourably than other employees.
- If you feel you are under threat of dismissal because of your sickness record, your employer must use a fair procedure.
There is no statutory right to receive pay at your normal rate when you are off work through sickness or injury. Your employer has the option to pay you all, or part, of your salary for a certain amount of time if they choose. Ideally this should be explained in your contract of employment. The amount of paid time-off for sickness may be linked to length of service or other factors. Your employer is also within their rights to make decisions on a case by case basis. If there is no contractual right to sick pay you will, if you qualify, receive Statutory Sick Pay.
For the first seven days of any sickness absence you can self-certificate and your employer has no right to ask for formal medical evidence during that period. If you are off work for longer than seven days then you do have to provide a medical certificate. In the event of a possible long-term sickness absence, or repeated short term absences, your employer can ask you to undergo an independent medical examination.