Sick leave

Everyone’s sick leave situation is different, and so is every employer’s policy. Making sure you know your rights is key to avoiding surprises in the future.

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Understanding long term sick leave 

In this guide to sick leave, we lead you through some of the emotional and practical impacts of long-term sick leave. By learning more about your rights and finding out what support you can get, you can avoid financial shocks, plan ahead and focus on your health and wellbeing.

  • Pay when you're on sick leave

    Unfortunately, employers don’t pay sick pay forever. If you’re off work for long enough, at some point you’ll likely be reduced to half-pay, and then to nil pay.

    Each employer has different policies and different schedules of pay when it comes to sick leave. Managers aren’t always up to speed on these. So it’s vital that you are. Often, people who get in touch with us didn’t know their timetable of pay, and were shocked when they experienced a dip in their income.

  • Benefits when you're on sick leave

    Money can be a worry when you’re not working, but if you’re ill or have a disability there are a range of benefits and tax credits you may be able to claim. You might be able to get additional benefits too, depending on your circumstances.

    It can seem daunting to get to grips with the benefits system if you’re not used to it, but it’s always worth exploring what you might be entitled to. 

  • Returning to work

    Whether you're off work because of physical or mental health, your self-esteem may be low. If you’re planning a return to work, it’s normal to worry about how you’ll go from being off work and focusing on your health to managing your role, and any stress that comes with it. This is especially true if you were off work because of a mental health issue or because of workplace stress.

    It's only natural to feel anxious, but take comfort in the fact that you're unlikely to be dropped in at the deep end. Your employer may have an occupational health team that can help ease your return. And even if your condition is long-term, your employer is likely to give you the support you need to help you stay in work. 

  • Staying off work

    If your health or disability mean returning to your job isn’t on the cards, there are options you can explore. From getting practical support to change your job or career, getting ill-health benefits through your workplace pension, or accessing long-term benefits.

Next steps

Use our action plan to get ideas for exploring your options while you're on long-term sick leave or returning to your job after being ill.