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Support to help you keep your job when ill or disabled

If you’ve developed a health condition or become disabled, you probably want to know whether you can take time off work, do more flexible hours, or have adjustments made to your job or place of employment. Here’s a summary of your legal rights at work, and support to help you keep working.

All employees have rights. For example, you have a right to paid holidays and to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage.

If you’re a disabled worker, you have extra rights at work.

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What are your rights as a disabled worker?

By law, your employer:

  • isn’t allowed to discriminate against you because you’re disabled
  • must keep your job open for you, and can’t pressure you to resign because you’ve become disabled
  • has to make reasonable adjustments to your place of work, the job you do, or the terms and conditions of your employment.

Who does disability legislation apply to?

These extra rights might apply to you, even if you don’t think of yourself as disabled.

For example, if you have a physical condition such as:

  • cancer,
  • MS or HIV, or
  • a mental illness, such as depression.

The legislation applies to anyone who has ‘a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect’ on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

For more information about what counts as a physical or mental impairment, a Citizens Advice adviser can help.

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Reasonable adjustments

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Your employer has to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that you’re not disadvantaged at work.

These could include:

  • providing extra services, such as an interpreter
  • adapting the workplace, for example by providing ramps
  • flexible working hours, such as time off for appointments or more breaks
  • giving you alternative duties or moving you to a more suitable workplace
  • providing specially adapted equipment, such as a computer, keyboard, telephone, chair or desk.

Before asking your employer for such adjustments, it’s a good idea to find out what others have found useful in your situation.

If you’re a member of a trade union, they might be able to help.

Or contact an organisation for people with a similar injury, illness or disability.

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Your employer doesn’t have to do everything you ask for. The adjustment has to be ‘reasonable’. And if something is too expensive, it might not count as reasonable.

If your employer refuses to make reasonable adjustments

If your employer refuses to make the reasonable adjustments you’ve asked for, get advice on how to resolve the problem.

If you’re still unsuccessful, you can take things further.

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To find out where to get help with discrimination problems, go to the Citizens Advice website

Time off work

Statutory Sick Pay

If you’ve developed a disability or health condition and can’t work, you might be able to get Statutory Sick Pay.

This is the minimum you’re entitled to.

Some employers have their own sick pay scheme, which is more generous.

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Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

If you still can’t work after 28 weeks, you can apply for new-style Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit.

Find out if you would be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance on the GOV.UK website

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Disability leave

Your employer doesn’t have to allow you extra paid sick leave just because your time off is disability-related.

However, you can ask them to:

  • extend your sick pay
  • offer you paid ‘disability leave’
  • let you take the extra time off as annual leave.

Not all employers offer disability leave. Those that do offer it record it separately from your sick leave.

You can use disability leave to:

  • allow you to recover from treatment
  • take time off for treatment or assessment
  • take unplanned time off work relating to your disability or condition, which would otherwise be recorded as sick leave.

If you’re a member of a trade union, they might be able to negotiate your disability leave with your employer on your behalf.

If you’re waiting for reasonable adjustments to be made

If you’re off work while your employer arranges for reasonable adjustments to be made, this shouldn’t be recorded as an ‘absence from work’.

Phased return to work

Gradually building up your working hours or working from home before you go back into the office, are two ways of helping people get back to work after sick leave.

This phased return to work counts as a reasonable adjustment.

You can arrange it directly with your employer, with advice from your:

  • GP
  • nurse, or
  • occupational therapist.

The Access to Work scheme

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An Access to Work grant can be used to pay for practical support to help you keep your job if you have a disability or health condition.

The money can be used to pay for things like:

  • buying new specialist equipment
  • adapting the equipment you use at work
  • making adjustments so you can work from home
  • help with travel costs if you can’t use public transport to get to work
  • a support worker or job coach to help you in your workplace.

Find out more about Access to Work on the GOV.UK website

If you have a mental health condition and are absent from work or finding work difficult, support is available from the Workplace Mental Health Support service.

This service is part of the Access to Work scheme.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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