Leaving work due to ill health (A brief guide)

In this guide, we will discuss the topic leaving work due to ill health, what are your potential options, what SSP is, what happens if your employer refuses, and some additional considerations.

Leaving work due to ill health

Leaving work due to ill health can make anyone feel worried about finances or how to sort out money situations as soon as possible.

For instance, if you are unable to work due to ill health, you may be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks, where basically you are still employed but unable to work.

The average earnings are at least £118 a week.

The current rate is £95.85 a week for 2020-2021 and it is paid to your employer the same way your wages are.

Some employers do have a more generous sick pay scheme but others will assess cases individually.

Make sure you check your contract or your staff handbook to find more information related to sick pay.

Being ill and having to work is a combination that is not really compatible.

If you decide to keep working even if you know you are ill and your condition may get worse, eventually you will have to leave your job.

However, it is important to consider all the options available to you.

What happens if my employee refuses SSP?

If your employer refuses to pay SSP or is not paying you the full amount, it is recommended to get in contact with the HM Revenue and Custom statutory payment dispute team:

Telephone: 03000 560 630

Monday to Thursday 8.30am to 5pm

Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm

Textphone: 0300 200 3212

Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm

Moreover, if you are unable to return to work, you still have the legal right to ask your employer to make certain (reasonable) adjustments that can make it easier to carry on with your work.

The adjustments can include having a flexible working schedule, changing your responsibilities or using special equipment. 

As an employee you may not be fully aware of your rights and as a disabled worker, you have additional rights at work.

By law your employer can’t:

  • Discriminate you because you are disabled.
  • Pressure you to resign because you have become disabled.
  • Refuse to make reasonable adjustments to your workplace, the job you do or the terms and conditions of your employment.

If you have a physical condition such as cancer or a mental illness such depression, the legislation applies and protects you. 

Reasonable adjustments

According to moneyadviceservices.org.uk, these adjustments could include:

  • Providing additional services, such as an interpreter.
  • Adapting the workplace, for example by providing ramps.
  • Flexible working hours, 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.

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

Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit

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

Disability leave

Your employer is not obliged to pay extra sick leave payment just because you are time off due to your disability.

However, you could ask them to extend:

  • Extend your sick pay
  • Offer you paid ‘Disability Leave’
  • Let you take the extra time off as annual leave

Dismissal of an employee (ill health)

Rachel Lacey from Money Wise advices how “There are six grounds under which employers are legally able to sack employees, and the most significant from an ill health dismissal point of view is capability. If you are too unwell or physically unable to perform your job, your employer has the right to dismiss you, perhaps forcing you into early retirement through ill health.”

Since your employer is paying for your salary and you are not performing the job, it means it is not really profitable to them.

How long can an employee be off sick?

There are no rules that stipulate when employers can start the process of an ill health dismissal but it may depend on your job position and pay grade since you become harder to replace the higher up you are.

In addition, the size of your organization will matter as well. As Rachel Lacey from Money Wise indicates, “larger companies for example will have more resources and find it easier to cover your job in your absence.”

However, when dismissing an employee, employers need to be careful not to dismiss them if they are disabled and protected by the Equality Act since it could be classed as “discrimination”.

In such a case, your employer will need to prove they have attempted to make reasonable adjustments or something else to help you return to work.

Unfair dismissal

If you were dismissed due to ill health, you can challenge the decision on the grounds of unfair dismissal.

However, consider that you needed to have been employed for two years.

If you are legally disabled then you may make a claim of discrimination under the Equality Act but you will need to prove that your employer didn’t make any attempts to make reasonable adjustments so you could return to work.

The only downside is how expensive it could be to take your employer to court.

According to Rachel Lacey from Money Wise, “A claim for unfair dismissal carries a £250 issue fee and a whopping £950 hearing fee.”

Resignation letter example due to ill health

If you have considered all your options and you still want to resign, here is an example you can use:

“Your Name

Your Address

Your City, State Zip Code

Your Phone Number

Your Email






City, State Zip Code

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

It greatly saddens me to send you this letter of resignation. Effective at the end of this month, I no longer will be working here as a P.E. teacher.

Recently I have been noticing some changes in many aspects of my life, both personally and professionally. I have been overly exhausted, constantly in pain, and feel that my productivity has been cut in half. I went to a doctor, and I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a condition that involves chronic pain and soreness. Because of the high activity level consistent with my work, I am no longer able to teach my students effectively, and I do not want them to be impacted by this. My doctor agreed with me that this is the best decision for all involved.

I have so enjoyed my time here at FMA Middle School. My work gave me great satisfaction, and I never will forget the last 20 years of incredible friends and colleagues that I have gained. I hope we will still stay in touch despite my early exit.

Please let me know if there is any way I can help in finding my replacement. Although I no longer can do the work I once could, I hope to remain a resource and that we will stay in touch. Thank you so much for all the opportunities, and I wish everyone at FMA the very best.


Your Signature (hard copy letter)

Your Typed Name”

Feel free to make modifications to accommodate it to your own personal circumstances.

Why is this blog about leaving work due to ill health important?

Leaving work due to ill health might sound as the perfect solution, but it is important to consider the financial impact it could have on you.

This is why considering all your options and setting up a plan before leaving, would be ideal.

As we have seen so far, there are benefits you can claim for being off sick or for having a disability.

In addition, we have mentioned how you could be dismissed for being ill, especially a long term illness.

However, you can appeal if you consider you have received an unfair dismissal or you have been discriminated against.

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about leaving work due to ill health

What happens if you have to give up work due to ill health?

If you have to give up work due to ill health, you may be able to take your pension benefits earlier.

This is generally known as ill-health pension.

“A serious ill-health lump sum paid before you reach the age of 75 will be paid tax-free provided you have available lifetime allowance (pensionadvisoryservice.or.uk).”

What qualifies for ill health retirement?

What qualifies for ill health retirement will be interpreted according to each pension scheme but it usually means you can’t perform your job normally because you are physically or mentally ill.

In addition, some schemes specify that you have to be unable to do any job and not just your current job to qualify for it.

How do I resign due to medical reasons?

If you need to resign due to medical reasons it is recommended to write a basic letter of resignation due to illness that includes a greeting, statement of resignation and your last working day.

Also, you can add the reason for leaving but without being too detailed.

Thank your employer for the opportunity and close your letter.

What benefits can I claim if I retire due to ill health?

The benefits you can claim if you retire due to ill health is known as ill-health pension.

If you are unable to perform your work due to ill health, you may be entitled to some state benefits such as Statutory Sick Pay, Employment and Support Allowance or Universal Credit.

Can I ask for redundancy due to ill health?

You can ask for redundancy due to ill health but your employer can refuse to make you redundant or if there are no provisions in a pension scheme for ill-health retirement you could also ask to do other suitable roles or even having to work less hours.


Moneyadviceservice.org.uk: “Ill or disabled”

Moneyadviceservice.org.uk: “Support to help you keep your job when ill or disabled”

Doyle, A. (2020, Jan.) Resignation Letter Examples Due to Health Issues. Retrieved from thebalancecareers.com.

Lacey, R. (2013, Aug.) Your rights with ill health dismissal. Retrieved from moneywise.co.uk.