Careers & Money Experts


Posted by: Angie | 2011-07-13


Fired if you get sick

Hi Karel I have been with my company for almost a year, and have been unlucky in the health side, from bad flu to tummy troubles that lead to a night in hospital, to now having IBD ( inflammed bowel disease) where I was off of a week with 3 trips to the emergency room and 1 to a doctor. I have had medical letters for every day I have not made it into work. Now the company has very kindly informed me if I get sick one more time the will fire me. What should/could I do in this situation?

Expert's Reply


Karel van der Molen Karel van der Molen
- 2011-07-24

This is never a pleasant situation to find oneself in as health, or in this case illness is not something over which we have absolute control. And it should also be said at the outset the question of sick leave is also a complex issue.

It should first be stated that in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 1997 as worker is entitled to six weeks paid sick leave during a 36 months cycle. This means that provided that all the requirements have been met (a certificate from a medical practitioner after two day’s absence and any other organisational rules), no action can be taken against the employee. It is not clear from your question as to the extent of your condition or the number of days/weeks you have been away from work.

One should also remember under these circumstances that the employer must look at all issues, most important of which is whether the goals and objectives of the organisation are being met and that the services or products are being made available to the customers and clients. The absence of an employee can and will have an impact on the workload of the organisation and on the employees who must take up the work of the absent employee. The organisation is then fully entitled to exercise its management imperative to ensure that the productivity is not affected and, where this does occur, to take such action as may be required under the circumstances.

But, having said that, an organisation cannot take any action against an employee without due process. There must be an investigation and examination of all the relevant factors and only then can a final decision be taken as to the future course of action. This is not a lengthy process and can be finalised in a very short period of time.

This is a broad sweep through your question – please do submit another question to the website if you require any further information and/or advice.

Good luck – I trust that the situation will be satisfactorily resolved!

The information provided does not constitute a professional diagnosis of your problem. You should consult a health care practitioner, lawyer or other appropriate professional for formal advice. Women24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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