According to a recent report, more than a quarter of employees are “nervous or even anxious at the thought of submitting a time-off request,” which often means that they continue to clock in when feeling sick or under the weather.

While you may think this is a great way to showcase your commitment to your role, it actually indicates a disregard for your own health. After all, this could exacerbate your symptoms, which means you may need to take even more time off as a consequence.

Regardless of why you must take time off work, it’s important that you are aware of your rights when it comes to taking sick leave, especially if you worry that you will face disciplinary action as a result.

How many sick days can you have before disciplinary action is taken?

In the UK, there is no set number of sick days that an employee can take before their employer is able to take disciplinary action, whether that be a formal warning or outright dismissal.

Instead, it is considered the responsibility to determine what a fair course of action for repeat or prolonged sickness could be, depending on their sick leave policies and the specific circumstances the employee has found themselves in.

As such, there is no set answer to the question “how many sick days before disciplinary action?”, as it can vary on a case-to-case basis. For example, employees may base this decision upon the national average for sick days, which for 2022 was 4.9 sick days used per worker.

Again, this could also be dependent upon whether or not the sick leave was authorised or unauthorised. For example, in order for your absence to be authorised, you will likely have to provide an employer with a note from a doctor or healthcare professional if you are off work for longer than seven days.

How do I know how much sick leave I am entitled to?

Your employer will already have a specific procedure in place for sick leave, which means that it should be relatively easy to determine how much sick leave you are entitled to, before disciplinary action can be taken.

For example, the document should clearly state your sick leave entitlement, alongside any procedures you need to follow to take paid sick leave. For example, you may have to keep your employer up to date with any treatments you are receiving, or doctors’ notes.

The amount of sick leave you are entitled to may be rolling over a long period of time,  or within a specific year, so it’s important that you read this document carefully in order to understand your rights.

What happens if I exceed my sick leave entitlement?

There are various circumstances that could leave you in a situation wherein you have exceeded your allotted sick leave  but are unable to return to work. In this case, you should reach out to your employer to discuss your health status with them and discuss the next course of action.

If you exceed your sick or stress leave without wider discussion, you could face a range of disciplinary actions, from warnings to suspension to the termination of your contract. 

If you are no longer fit to carry out your role, they are well within the rights to bring your employment to a close. However, in some scenarios, they may be required to make reasonable accommodations to facilitate your return to work, such as if you have been diagnosed with a disability.

What should I do if I have been unfairly disciplined for taking sick leave?

If you feel as though you have been unfairly disciplined for taking sick leave, or have lost your job as a result, you may be able to take action through an employment tribunal.

During this tribunal, you can make a claim for unfair dismissal, to challenge your employer’s decision if you have worked for the company for more than two years. If you are successful in making this claim, you can receive significant compensation.

As a result, you should reach out to a qualified legal services provider, such as a member of the team Premier Legal, who will be able to represent you in this case.

Get in touch today to find out more.

At Premier Legal, we have over 25 years of experience helping clients who feel as though they have been unfairly dismissed at work when it comes to reaching a  settlement agreement.

As such, if you’d like to kickstart this process, or find out more about the range of legal support services we offer, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.