Taking Time Off For Mental Health – Can You Call in Sick? Your Rights at Work

It can be a difficult to understand your workplace rights around taking time off for mental health. Your mental health is no different to any other type of illness, and it should be treated as such by your employer.

Our guide will look at how to take time off for to support your mental health and recovery. We’ll also look at what you can do when off sick, and help with information on a successful return to work.

Can I Call in Sick For Mental Health?

Your mental health is just as serious as a physical health condition. It’s perfectly acceptable to call in sick for mental health reasons.

Whilst it can be a difficult conversation to have with your workplace, they should be supportive of your illness and do all they can to aid your recovery. Taking time off for mental health should not be seen in a negative light.

How to Call in Sick For Mental Health – What to Say

If you need to call in sick for mental health reasons, it can be hard to know what to say or how to approach your manager.

If you are suffering from mental health issues, it can feel overwhelming. However, do make sure you follow all your company policies for taking time off sick.

Here are a couple of ways to explain the reason for needing time off when calling your workplace.

Keeping it brief and to the point is best:-

  • I have been struggling with my mental health, and I’m not well enough to come to work today.
  • I’m not well enough to come to the office today. I am going to take a day off to recover, and will keep in touch about returning to work.

If you don’t feel up to a phone call, or would struggle to remain calm you might consider sending an email.

If your workplace sick policy requires you to phone in, you could still send an email explaining your situation. This could then be followed up with a brief phone call, saying you can’t come in but have sent an email to explain.

If you don’t feel able to discuss taking time off for mental health as your reason to stay off work, you could say you have a migraine or tummy bug. However, once you are feeling well you should consider discussing your health with your workplace so they can support you.

Disclosing Health Issues to Your Employer

It can be difficult making the decision to reach out and ask for support for poor mental health from your employer. Workplaces should be sympathetic and supportive and most employers will want to help you.

If you feel  able, you could ask your manager to have a chat when you are feeling well. Not everyone has an understanding manager, but if you are able to talk with them before you need to take time off, it may make calling in sick less daunting.

You can start the conversation by saying something like “I need to discuss something personal with you, can we take some time for a chat?”

Medical Confidentiality at Work

Remember that you have the right to medical confidentiality at work. Your manager cannot disclose your medical information to your co-workers.

Letting your employer know that you are having issues with your health can give you additional employment rights and protections. Mental health is considered a disability if it has a long term impact on your health. 

Sick Notes & Self Certification

It’s straightforward to get sick notes for mental health conditions. Although you may not consider yourself ill, a mental health condition is a reasonable reason to be signed off work.

How to Self Certify for Mental Health

Self certifying for mental health is a simple process. For the first 7 days of any illness you can self certify your reason for taking time off without needing a doctors note. 

Usually, you fill in form SC2 upon your return to work. Usually your employer will provide you with a form, but you can also find the form on the UK Gov website.

This is all you need to do to qualify for statutory sick pay.

How to Get a Sick Note for Mental Health

If you need to take a longer period than 7 days off work for mental health reasons, you can get a sick note from your doctor.

All you have to do is call your GP surgery and ask for an appointment. Explain to your GP how your mental health has been affecting you. If they agree that your condition will leave you unfit for work, they will issue you with a sick note.

Sometimes you will be able to have a consult over the phone. The process to get a sick note is straightforward. If you have never discussed your mental health with your GP before, it may feel a little daunting. However, it is a good opportunity to seek some additional support.

Mental Health Sick Pay Entitlements

As a minimum, you will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you take time off for mental health. However, SSP is only payable from the 4th day off work and is set at £99.35 a week. This means the first 3 days off will be unpaid sick leave.

Your employer may offer enhanced sick leave, check your contract of employment to see what you are entitled to.


Can you get sick pay for mental health?

You are eligible for sick pay for mental health issues. If you need time off work for this reason, it should be treated in the same way as any other illness.

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