Q&A Can boss get rid of me for being on long term sick?

Q:        I am 62 and have been on sick leave for almost a year following a serious cancer operation. I keep hoping I will be strong enough to return to work for a few more years as I’m in a final salary pension scheme. However, a couple of work colleagues who visited me recently said they think the boss will ‘pension me off’ early as he doesn’t believe I will ever be up to doing the job again. Can he do that if I don’t want to retire?

A:        Retiring someone on the grounds of ill-health is not a process recognised under Employment legislation. Further, since the abolition of the default retirement age on 6th April 2011, a dismissal based on an employee’s age now amounts to unlawful direct age discrimination unless being under a particular age is an occupational requirement.

Your employer might suggest that your long-term sick leave indicates you have become disabled and can no longer do your job. However, he would be legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments to support you in returning to work, and an Employment Tribunal would expect him to have sought medical advice to explore appropriate reasonable adjustments in the workplace to help you before deciding to terminate your employment.

In the first instance your employer should at least request a welfare meeting with you to gather further information about the reasons for your long-term absence and the treatment you have received or have planned. You would be entitled to take someone along to the meeting as an observer who could take notes. You should check the terms of your pension scheme, as often employees can receive an ill health retirement pension prior to the age when their company pension could normally be drawn.

Before making any assumptions about what your boss may or may not have in mind, you should make an appointment to see an employment lawyer and go through everything in detail.

This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal.  If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, please visit our website www.ghplegal.com and use the contact us form, or call us on: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194 

James Denton

James Denton

Solicitor

Solicitor in our Civil Litigation team in the Oswestry and Wrexham offices.