What to do if you’re off sick from work

Being poorly is never fun, but when it means taking time off work it can become a real problem at a time when you’re already feeling bad. It’s important that you follow the rules carefully as well as doing all you can to get back to full health as soon as possible.


Taking time off

Some people really struggle with taking time off, even if they’re really poorly. Think carefully about the impact of going into work if you’re unwell. It could make your condition worse, and if it’s contagious you could also pass your sickness on, neither of which are good outcomes for you, your colleagues or your company. If you’re genuinely under the weather, take a sensible amount of time off and recover well before returning to work.


Keep good records

It’s usually impossible to know how long you’ll be ill for, so make sure you keep a record of when the illness started, the symptoms and the treatments you have undertaken. If necessary, make an appointment with your GP or seek urgent medical help. If you’re poorly, you may not be as clear-minded as usual, so keep detailed notes of any appointments and outcomes so that everything is clear in your mind. This is particularly important if you’re taking medication as you may not remember when you last took that antibiotic or painkiller if you don’t keep a record.


Communicate clearly

It’s important that you keep your employer up to date with the details of your illness. You don’t necessarily need to go into major detail if it’s very personal, but let them know as soon as possible if you’re going to be off work. This will help them arrange cover if it’s needed and take care of your workload. You can (and should) self-certify for the first seven days, but you’ll still need to let your boss know what’s happening on a regular basis. If you’re off work for longer, you’ll need to get a medical note.


If you’re able to see your GP, do so as soon as possible and present them with all the facts of your illness. They may wish to sign you off for a set period. Again, let your employer know exactly how long you have been signed off for at your earliest convenience and send a copy of the medical note. If your sickness exceeds this period, you’ll need to go back or call the surgery for another note and repeat the process.


You may feel better before the specified period ends, but check with your employer as to whether or not you should return sooner than the date specified on your sick note as some company insurance policies may be affected if an employee is found to be on the premises when they have been signed off work.


Use your time off wisely

The way you choose to recover will depend on your symptoms and treatment, but most illnesses are improved by getting plenty of rest, eating well, gentle exercise and the avoidance of stressful situations. Take pains (if you’ll excuse the pun!) to look after yourself and make sensible health choices. Above all, don’t overdo it the minute you start feeling better.


If you’re off work, don’t do anything that would call your sickness absence into question if your employer was to bump into you. It’s best to leave the marathon running, shopping sprees and nightclubbing alone for the time being!


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Joy Tibbs is a freelance writer and editor who regularly contributes to Premier. Find out more at joyofediting.co.uk and find her on Twitter @joyous25

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