Sick leave

Make sure you’re getting the support and benefits you’re entitled to when you’re on sick leave.

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Get support while on sick leave

Use this action plan on sick leave to access the support and benefits available to you. This way you can manage your stress and your finances, focus on feeling better, and return to work if and when you’re well enough.

  • Find out your employer's policies

    Ask your manager to send you your contract and a copy of your employee handbook.

    Every employer has different policies around illness. If you’re on long-term sick leave, it’s important you know how long your employer will keep paying you, and how much of your usual pay you’ll receive. This can help you plan your finances in advance, and prevent a crisis later on.

    If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your manager about your sick pay, ask for someone in HR to do this. Or if your bank has an occupational health team, speak to them. You can also get impartial advice from Citizens Advice, ACAS or from your union rep. 

  • Check your workplace pension

    If you’ve got a pension through your employer, ask them or your pension provider if you’re entitled to any ill-health benefits.

    If you are, find out how much these are worth and how long they’ll last. And check with your employer if you’re covered under any additional insurance schemes like income protection or critical illness. 

  • Get advice about salary deductions

    Find out what to do if you've been overpaid or had money deducted from your salary or wages.

    Sometimes, when you’re on long-term sick leave and your pay was supposed to have been reduced, your employer might overpay you by accident.

    When they discover their mistake, they have the right to take this money back from your salary. This could leave you with a big shortfall in your income, so if it happens it’s important you know how to deal with it.

  • Tell your creditors your circumstances have changed

    If you’re going to have a drop in your income, notify your mortgage provider or your landlord, and your utility providers and lenders as soon as you can. Don’t wait until you’ve missed a payment.

    Once they understand your situation you might find they're more helpful than you’d expect. They may be able to give you a payment holiday, freeze your payments for a short time, or help you in some other way. For further ideas, check out this article from StepChange on how to negotiate with your creditors. And look at our budgeting action plan to help you stay in control of your finances.

  • Check your benefits

    If you’re out of work long term, check you’re getting the benefits you’re entitled to.

    You could be entitled to benefits like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Housing Benefit, help with council tax, or a Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Your entitlement will depend on your health and your circumstances, so it’s always best to check. Use our benefits and grants action plan to find out how.

  • Look after yourself

    Look after your mind and your body. Whether you're off work because of a physical or a mental health issue, your self-esteem might be low. You might even feel guilty for doing the things that are most likely to make you feel better, like getting out of the house, exercising, or meeting friends.

    But you don't have to hide under the covers the entire time. Do the things you can manage, like gentle exercises you can do sitting down, and try to get out and about if you can. 

  • Ask for support to return to work

    Making a return to work after a long-term illness can be difficult, so it’s important you ask for support.

    If you have a long-term health condition or a disability, you may be eligible for an Access to Work grant. If you are, you could use this to pay for practical support to help you start working again. Or ask if your employer can offer you flexible working, reduced hours or different tasks while you get back into the swing of things. Find out more about how to get support to return to your job.

  • Get help to retire early

    If your health means you don’t think returning to work is feasible, take time to consider your options.

    The Money Advice Service has a helpful article on what to think about if you’re considering early retirement.

Next steps

Pick the actions that apply to you and add them to your own to-do list. Then you can start taking steps to ensure you’re getting the support you need while on sick leave.