What Happens if You Call in Sick During a Notice Period?

Calling in sick during a notice period can be far from ideal. For some, it’s a tactic used to avoid working notice. Others will genuinely be unwell and wondering what will happen if they call in sick during their notice period.

You have the right to take sick leave during your notice, and your entitlement to sick pay and accrual of holiday pay will not be impacted.

Remember, if you are sick the timing can’t be helped. Make sure you follow all company procedures to the letter, and it should not cause any issues.

Read your contract of employment or employee handbook to reassure yourself of what your obligations are.

What Happens When You Call in Sick During Notice?

When calling in sick to work, you don’t need to provide a sick note until 7 days have passed. That means those working their final days can call in sick without needing to hand in a fit note.

Often, notice is handed in under difficult circumstances and employees simply want a way out of the environment. If the amount of time left in your resignation period can be covered by self certification, there’s little an employer can do about it.

See our detailed guide on how long you can self certify sick and when you’ll need a sick note.

However, if you call in sick to try and avoid working your notice period you will need a sick note after 7 days. Failure to do this might lead to an unauthorised absence being recorded. This may mean the absence would be unpaid.

If you don’t follow company procedures, or let your professionalism slip when dealing with your employer it may be reflected in future work references.

Related: Is it illegal to give a bad reference?

If You are Genuinely Unwell During Notice

There will genuinely be times when individuals require sick leave during the notice period. This can be a worrying time. Understandably, you might worry about what your manager will think and if you will be believed.

Try not to worry about it. You can’t help when you fall ill. Make sure you follow company procedure for reporting sickness.

Our guide on how to call in sick to work gives some great tips to navigate the process, and stay professional.

What Usually Happens During a Notice Period?

A notice period is a time frame you work after giving or being given notice to leave a job. This can be due to resignation, or being let go from your position.

You might have failed probation meaning your manager has decided they will be letting you go. In this situation, you will be given notice and an agreed period of time left working for them. Or it may be that you have decided the job isn’t for you and you wish to leave.

Most companies will issue a written contract which will contain such terms as notice period lengths. These can vary from a week to more than a month but between 1 and 4 weeks is the norm. You are obliged to fulfil your notice period, even if you are still within the probationary period.

If you don’t have a contract then you need to be given or give, statutory notice.

Can You Take Sick Leave During Notice Period?

Your notice period has arrived and lo and behold so has the dreaded lurgy. However, you absolutely have the right to take sick leave during your notice period.

The ability to take time off work sick, is a statutory employment right, and your employer can’t refuse it.

But what happens now? Will still you get paid if you need to take sick leave towards the end of your employment?

When you are off sick, normal sick pay entitlements as per your work contract still stand. Do check your contract to confirm this as some employers who offer enhanced sick pay may stipulate different rates of pay for sick days during the notice period.

Leaving Dates

Employers cannot extend the notice period without your consent so it will not affect your agreed leaving date.

No one can force you to go in when you are unwell. That means while it may be an inconvenience, it’s something that can’t be helped.

Can You Hand in Your Notice When Off Sick?

If you are unwell and need to hand in your notice, the process for resigning while on sick leave is the same as any other time.

This will not affect your entitlements to holiday or other pay you are due. You should also be entitled to sick pay.

Sick Pay During Notice Period

It’s certainly not ideal to fall ill during your resignation period but you are still protected by employee rights.

You will be entitled to sick pay, even if you have resigned and are now in your notice period. Your contract should state what the rate of pay will be for sick leave. Alternatively, you may be eligible for statutory sick pay.

Statutory Sick Pay

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid up to 28 weeks of absence at a maximum rate of £109.40 per week from April 2023.

You can be eligible for SSP after the first 3 days of absence from work. That means you will not be paid for the first 3 days you are signed off work.

There are also some instances you may not have to wait for the SSP qualifying period, and will be able to receive the full SSP rate from day one.

Statutory sick pay is paid in the same way as your normal wages via your employer and the normal tax and national insurance will be deducted. SSP is paid if the employee is off for more than 4 consecutive days and this includes weekends.

There are certain requirements you need to meet in order to qualify for SSP:

  • Be an employee and have already carried out work for your employer.
  • You need to be earning at least £123 per week.
  • Illness must be over 4 consecutive days (this includes days you do not work).

There are some instances when you may not qualify for SSP. For example if you have already used up the maximum 28 weeks or are already receiving Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

If you don’t qualify for SSP there may be other benefits you are entitled to. Make sure you are clear on your contractual rights as some employers add a clause relating to sick pay during the notice period.

Company Sick Pay During Notice

If your employer offers enhanced sick pay above the SSP rate, this may not be payable during your notice period. You should check your employment contract to see what it says about company sick pay during the notice period.

Company sick pay is also known as occupational sick pay (OSP), and enhanced sick pay. Look for these terms in your employee handbook or contract to find out your entitlements.

What to Do If Your Work is Affecting Your Mental Health

When work affects your mental health then it’s important to take action and know your rights at the same time.

Employers have the responsibility of making sure the work environment is not detrimental to its employees state of mind. They should also provide support for anyone struggling as poor mental health can impact the productivity of the workplace.

Mental health sometimes suffers as a result of problems with the work environment. When this happens, it may be necessary to take some sick leave to focus on yourself. 

If You Are Suffering Work Related Stress

If you’re suffering from work related stress or even bullying at work during your notice, and can no longer cope – go and speak to your GP.

You can be signed off work with stress if your situation is intolerable and it’s affecting your ability to function day to day.

You can get a sick note for mental health just like you can for a head cold or sickness bug. Employers are expected to deal with this in a sensitive way and follow the same protocols as physical illnesses.

How you’re paid during your absence will depend on your contract. You will need a doctors note if you will be off work for more than 7 days. If there’s less than 7 days notice left, you can self certify on grounds of mental health.

If You Are Sick and Worried About How it Will Look to Your Employer

One of humanity’s flaws is the pressure we put on ourselves to always be at our best. So when we are ill it can be very daunting making that call to your employer.

It shouldn’t be though, everyone is affected by illness at some point. If this happens during your notice period then so be it, you are still entitled to your agreed sick pay.

When you make that call do it as soon as you can, as calmly as you can and be open and honest at the same time. You don’t need to go into huge detail at this point, just cover the basics and how long you expect to be off for.

Make sure you follow the correct procedure for calling in sick, whether it is in your notice period or not. Don’t be tempted to get a colleague to pass the message on – this may not go down well.

Further Reading


Are you entitled to sick pay during your notice period?

You are entitled to sick pay during your notice period and the amount should be stipulated on your contract. It is wise to carefully check this as some employers may put in a clause around notice periods and sick days. You may also be entitled to SSP during time off sick or other benefits.

Could I get a bad reference for being sick during my notice period?

Employers are entitled to provide a true and accurate reference of your services while employed there. This can include details of absences if these were deemed excessive and affected your role in any way. Sometimes potential employers may ask for details on how many sick days were taken within a given period. References should always be fair and a true account of the employer’s experience with the individual.

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