It might seem like a red flag if an employee is on sick leave and decides to take a break. But can you go on holiday when off sick? In fact, there are many scenarios where taking a break when off sick is perfectly acceptable.
If you’re off sick and are wondering if it’s OK to take that holiday, our guide will help clarify your rights.
The Law on Holidays During Sick Leave
Being able to go on holiday when off sick depends upon the type of illness being suffered, and symptoms being experienced by the employee.
There are also many cases where taking a holiday would be beneficial to someone recovering from illness.
Taking a holiday when off sick can be justified if:-
- They are not well enough to work, but are well enough to travel.
- Are off sick long term and holiday would help recovery.
- Have a mental health condition such as stress which might be helped by a holiday.
There are many scenarios in which you may wonder if it’s OK to go on holiday when off work ill.
Let’s look at a few of the more common questions and concerns around specific situations. These examples should help if you need to have a conversation with your manager about your break.
Taking a Holiday When Off Sick With Stress or Mental Health Problems
In many cases, taking a holiday when off sick with stress or mental health issues can aid recovery.
If you are concerned about clearing this with your employer, you should approach your GP. They may be happy to issue you with a letter confirming a break would support your recovery.
However, as long as you have provided your employer with a sick note and your reason for being off does not mean you’d be physically unfit to travel, there is no legal reason for your employer to object.
If You Are Signed Off Sick But Have a Holiday Booked Already
It can feel problematic if you’re signed off sick but already had a holiday booked. You might be worried that you should cancel your break.
However, if you needed to claim on travel insurance you’d be required to provide medical proof that you were not fit to take the holiday. If your illness does not prevent you travelling it is fine to take your holiday.
It will be up to you and your employer to negotiate what type of leave you take during your holiday.
Can You Travel Abroad When Off Sick?
Similar to the other scenarios, as long as there is no medical reason on your fit note to suggest you aren’t well enough to travel abroad it is fine to go abroad.
However, your employer may wish to be notified of the dates you’ll be away. It would be reasonable of them to require to you share that information with them.
The Law on Sick Pay & Holiday Pay
It can be confusing when two different types of leave overlap. You can’t take holiday leave and sick leave at the same time.
Here’s some key rules about holiday pay and sickness, and how they should be managed:-
- Holiday pay can be claimed during sick leave. If an employee is on sick leave and takes annual leave, their sick leave is paused for the duration of the holiday. It can then recommence upon their return.
- An employer can’t require an employee to use holiday leave during sick leave. Up to 4 weeks holiday leave can be carried over if it’s unused. It needs to be taken within 18 months.
- If an employee suffers Injury or sickness during or right before their annual leave, they can reclaim their holiday entitlement to use another time. However, employers are not always obligated to pay sick pay at the same rate as holiday pay. You should check your employment contract to understand what you are entitled to.
Ultimately, in most cases there’s no reason that you can’t go on holiday when off sick. The only exceptions are where you’re signed off for a reason that would render you unfit to travel.
Whilst your employer may not be entirely happy, so long as you are well enough to be on holiday, there’s no reason for them to say you can’t go.
- Find out more about what you can do when off sick in our detailed guide.
- Taking time off for mental health – your rights to sick leave.
It’s perfectly acceptable to travel when on sick leave so long as your illness does not mean you are unfit to travel. You can travel within the UK, and also take holidays abroad during time off work due to illness.