Resigning from a Job on Sick Leave – How to Do It & Your Rights

Currently on sick leave and considering handing in your notice? Are you wondering what your rights are when resigning from a job on sick leave? Is it even a thing and is it permissible? We answer all these questions, and more, in this article.

Being on Sick leave and deciding to resign is a stressful time. It’s important that you understand your rights.

Can You Resign on Sick Leave?

Let’s face it, being on sick leave is no fun. There are also many pressures that you face being out of the workplace. This is made worse if you aren’t enjoying the job and you’ve decided you’d like to hand in your notice. 

Don’t fret – and this is important – you can resign while you are on sick leave. There will be a correct procedure to follow.  However, you must take the right steps if you have decided you will definitely leave your position.

The first thing you should be aware of is that you are still required to hand in a resignation letter, even when you are off sick. This is the professional thing to do, and may be a condition of your contract. You’ll also need to know the notice period required, and whether you will be back at work during it.

How to Write a Resignation Letter on Sick Leave

The thought of putting pen to paper for a resignation letter during sick leave can be daunting. The tone of the letter, coupled with the content, can set the tone for how things will be left.

For this reason, it is important to write with confidence, understand how much detail to include, and any other must-haves.

Let’s start with setting the right tone and getting the content right:-

  • Make sure you date the resignation letter and include your details. This may seem obvious but sometimes overthinking means we forget to do the basics right. This is important if you will be posting your letter or emailing it and not handing it in personally.
  • Keep the letter formal and to the point. It is not necessary to go into every reason you are resigning – just a few details will be fine. Keep this fact-based and professional.
  • Consider how you want to end the relationship between yourself and your employer. Remember you may require a reference from them in the future. It is important to keep the letter professional so as not to burn bridges.
  • It is important to clearly state that you intend to resign. Remeber to include the relevant details, e.g. your last working day.
  • If you intend to be resigning with immediate effect due to ill health then this too needs to be stated.
  • Try to end the letter positively by thanking them for your experiences which will help you move forwards.
  • Be sure to end the letter formally with your full name and a signature.

Resignation Letter Template

You can use the following template for when it is time to write your resignation letter:-

The top should include:-

Your name



Contact Number

Email address

The Date of Letter

Then your letter should follow with your employer’s details:

Their Name

Company Name

Address and Postcode

To Whom It May Concern / Dear (Name) 

Paragraph 1:

Please accept this letter as my formal resignation letter from (job role) at (company name). This resignation will be effective from (date) / immediate effect. You will be aware that I am currently on sick leave so this letter is in line with company procedure. This decision was not made lightly. But due to unforeseen ill health, it has become evident that I can no longer fulfil the tasks set out in my job description.

Paragraph 2:

My reasons for this resignation are (brief outline eg long term sickness/medical advice/other).

Paragraph 3:

I would like to thank you for all the experiences I have pursued while in my job role. I have learned a great deal which will set me in good stead in the future. Please let me know if there is anything I can realistically do to make this transition as smooth as possible for you.

Paragraph 4:

I wish you and the company you are building the very best for the future.

Yours Sincerely,

Full Name and Signature (if possible)

Your Rights when Handing in your Resignation

The process of handing in your resignation might be new to you and therefore, a little overwhelming. Consequently, it’s important to know what your rights are. This is particularly important when you are resigning due to ill health.

This will ensure the resignation process will go smoothly with no hidden issues. Here are some key points to consider during the process of leaving your job.

How Much Notice Should You Give?

Your contract should include the notice period required by the company. If this isn’t the case then the statutory notice you should give your employer is one week.

If you’ve been with your employer for less than a month, you do not have to give any notice. Your notice period will begin on the day you inform your employer (in writing) of your intention to leave.

Holiday Pay Entitlement

If you have untaken holiday days, your employer may let you use them during your notice period.

However, it may not be possible for your employer to accommodate this request. In this scenario you will be paid for any untaken leave still owed up to your first 28 days of accrued holiday.

How Much Notice Pay When Off Sick?

Most employees are entitled to some kind of notice pay at their full rate when off sick. Many employers believe that employees on SSP, or those who have used up their sick pay entitlement do not get paid notice.

However, this is not always the case. In some circumstances you’ll be entitled to 1 weeks pay at your full rate. How much pay you will get depends on what’s in your employment contract about notice periods.

Check Your Employment Contract

To try and understand, look at your employment contract and find out how much notice your employer would be required to give you if you were dismissed.

There are two types of notice:-

  • Statutory notice (the legal minimum).
  • Contractual notice (a longer notice period)

Statutory notice periods increase by 1 week for every year you work in a company, up to a maximum of 12 weeks. If you worked for a company for 5 years, you would be due 5 weeks statutory notice.

If your contractual dismissal notice is less than a week longer than the statutory notice period, you will be entitled to 1 week of pay at your full rate. Entitlement for any remaining weeks would be payable at SSP or contractual sick pay rates.

Confused? How to Get Advice

This guide from ACAS will help you understand what notice pay you are entitled to when off sick.

Employment law around this entitlement can be very confusing. If your contract is not clear on it, or you are confused, we recommend that you call ACAS and get advice on your own situation.

Before you call, make sure you have your employment contract to hand.

It’s worth doing this to make sure your employer has understood your rights to notice pay when off sick. Many employers misinterpret the rules around the right to notice pay during sickness.

Can You be Forced to Resign?

Work relations sadly won’t always be positive and plain sailing and there may well sometimes be ill feelings between staff and management.

If this escalates and a work situation becomes unbearable, it is important to know that you cannot, under normal circumstances, be forced to resign. You can have a conversation in which your boss asks you if you will consider resigning. However, you do not have to agree to this.

Should you refuse to resign and an employer decides to dismiss you, then they must be sure they are following protocol. There must be a valid reason for the dismissal which can be backed up and proved beyond reasonable doubt.

This is usually referred to as “capability grounds”. It cannot be based on hearsay and must follow the correct dismissal procedure. If your boss feels you are not going to be capable of doing your job moving forward, then this needs to be backed by medical evidence.

If your employer fails to do this, you may be able to take them to a tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Further Reading

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