Can I be sacked for being unwell?

Can I be sacked for being unwell?

I have had a lot of time off work recently due to various colds and bugs. Can I be sacked for being unwell?

The answer to this question will depend on a number of issues such as your length of service and whether you suffer from a disability. Given that your question refers to colds and bugs, I will assume that you do not suffer from a disability and this response is written on that basis. If that is not the case then please contact me and I will be able to provide further advice.

Most employers acknowledge that their employees will be absent from work due to illness from time to time. Repeated absences are however extremely disruptive for an employer.

If you have less than 2 years continuous employment there are very limited circumstances in which you can claim unfair dismissal in the event that your employment is terminated. Repeated short absences for coughs and colds may therefore result in the termination of your employment. In the circumstances you would be entitled to receive your contractual notice or a payment in lieu of your notice entitlement.

If you have been employed for more than 2 years an employer can only terminate your employment for a fair reason. One of these fair reasons is capability. As such, if an employer reasonably believes that you are unable to carry out your role as a result of repeated absences, they may be able to terminate your employment on the grounds of capability. Before doing so however they should follow a fair procedure which, depending on the circumstances, may include: –

  • meeting with you and setting agreed targets for improved attendance;
  • allowing you a reasonable time to improve your attendance;
  • obtaining a medical report to ascertain whether there is any underlying reason for your lack of attendance; and/or
  • considering whether any of the absences may be due to disability or pregnancy.

If you have any queries about this or any other aspect of employment law please do not hesitate to contact me on 01789 336 957 or

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