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Handing in your resignation whilst on sick leave

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 19 Dec 2022

Job hunting during sickness absence

If you’ve been on sick leave at work for a long period of time, there is nothing forcing you to stay with the employer. Plainly said, just because you are unable to work at this period in time, doesn’t mean you are obligated to stay with your current employer throughout your sick leave. However, you are expected to let your employer know about termination of your contract in the agreed way. 

If you do find yourself in a position where you are on sick leave but want to leave your job, make sure you write your resignation letter as you usually would, suggest your notice period and make sure you are in contact with your line manager. You shouldn’t feel nervous about doing this but given the situation, you may feel a little on edge. This article discusses how to handle your resignation letter and how to go about your notice whilst on sick leave. 

Writing your resignation letter

You want to be able to leave the job on good terms, so it’s best to follow the normal protocol for your company. Terms to your employment will be in your contract, where you can also find information on your notice period etc. Make sure you are providing them with a letter of resignation, even if you have spoken to your manager, as a more formal and documented way of letting them know you will be leaving your role. 

So, what should you include in your resignation letter and how should you lay it out?

  1. Your introduction / greeting - Make sure you are addressing your line manager (if they’re the person you hand your notice into) Address it to them and date the top of the letter to ensure you have a record of when this was given. 
  2. Make sure they know it’s your resignation from the beginning - Make your intentions clear. Within the first paragraph, make sure they know you are leaving your role and the date of your last full working day is included. 
  3. Tell your employer why - If you feel comfortable and feel like it’s necessary, let your employer know why you are leaving. Just because you are on sick leave, doesn’t mean it has to be related to an illness. However, if you feel this is best left out, you shouldn’t feel pressured to include a reason. 
  4. Thank them - Whether your reason for leaving is good or bad, let them know you appreciate the opportunity and thank them for the employment. 
  5. Sign off - It doesn’t have to include a more formal signature or electronic signature but sign your name and your job title. 

This is a really simple and easy way of writing a resignation letter. You can amend this however you see fit but make sure it is concise, to the point and tell them what they need to know. You want them to know instantly that it is a letter of resignation.

Handing in your resignation

Whether you have been on sick leave for a short or long period of time, you should be keeping in touch with your manager. It’s important that a form of connection is still there, and they are checking in on you. It’s likely that they are paying you for your sick leave, whether that be directly from the employer or statutory sick pay, this is something employers should do to support you. So, there is always this fear that they'll be angry when you resign on sick leave. It can feel like a really taboo subject, and it isn’t really spoken about. However, let it be clear, that just because something is preventing you from doing your job, it doesn’t mean you are stuck there. 

Some people’s sickness doesn’t always mean they are ill at home and stuck in bed, there are countless reasons why someone may be on leave. So, if you feel this job isn’t for you, it’s not helping your health or any other reason, then you do have the right to leave without feelings of guilt. 

It can feel strange but discuss with your line manager and they should be more than happy to discuss this and give you the relevant HR contacts if necessary. 

Your rights

You are entitled to all of the same benefits you would get if you resigned whilst working. This includes your normal base salary and all other company benefits included in your signed contract. So don’t feel like your employer can treat you differently because your circumstances aren’t classed as ‘normal’.

If you are remaining on sick leave after handing in your notice, some employers may ask you to leave immediately. This is usually so they can start the recruitment process and has nothing to do with you and your situation. However, note that you are still entitled to your pay and benefits. You can find a lot of information on the site here.

Your employer should treat you no differently and for many, they will stick to their agreements and make sure you are as comfortable as possible during this whole process. Your employer should still keep in contact with you, treat you as an employee and colleague as long as you are employed and if you do feel ready to work during your notice period, welcome you back. 

The process can be different depending on the company though. Some employers may accept your resignation as they would any other, others may pay you but ask you to refrain from coming back to the workplace and other employers may terminate your contract and pay you in lieu. Either way, make sure you are aware of your rights, what you are owed and don’t drop the ball. Many employers will treat you no differently but the odd few can try and make you feel bad and push you away, don’t let this happen. Be aware, vigilant and make sure you are being treated fairly and most importantly, they’ve dealt with the situation in a legal way.