Can You Work Another Job While on Sick Leave?

Having a second job, and being signed off sick from the other role can raise a tricky question. Can you work another job while on sick leave? This is something that an employer might take issue with. However, in employment law terms there are some scenarios where it would be acceptable.

So under what circumstances would it be OK to work a second job whilst on sick leave from other employment?


Reason For Sick Leave is Key

The first area to look at to work out what’s acceptable in terms of working in another job will be the reason for sick leave.  

If the reason you have been signed off from one role would also mean you were unfit for your other job, then it would be unadvisable to continue working in the other job whilst also claiming sick pay.

This could leave you open to disciplinary action from your employer. They would likely conclude the reasons for your absence were not genuine.

However, if the sickness would not mean you were unfit for your second job, then it should be OK to continue working.  You may find the employer from the role you are signed off sick may not agree. This may place you in a difficult situation.

With that in mind, lets look at some examples, case law, and government advice on SSP.


Working Another Job – Example Scenarios

There are a number of scenarios where the medical reason for time off work would not prevent you working in another role.

  • Being signed off with work related stress. If your reason for sick leave centres around one workplace, there’s no reason to stop working your other job.
  • You have an ankle injury which means you are signed off a job that involves a lot of physical activity. Your second job is desk based, meaning you are medically fit to perform the role.

Check Your Work Contract

If you are unsure if it’s OK to continue working another job whilst on sick leave, you should check your contract of employment and company sick policy.

Some employers will have clauses which prohibit working in other jobs whilst on sick leave. If your employer has provision for this in your contract of employment, it may mean they can commence disciplinary procedures against you.

The basis of the action would be on breach of contract, rather than fitness to perform your second role.


Employment Tribunals and Second Jobs

Employment tribunal rulings suggest it is fine for an employee to work one job whilst signed off as unfit from another.

When considering your own situation, it may be useful to consider this case:-

Perry V’s Imperial College Healthcare

Ms Perry was sacked after being signed off her main job as a community midwife with a knee injury. However, she continued with a second job which was desk based. When her main employer found out, they dismissed her on grounds of fraudulently claiming sick pay.

In a 2011 employment tribunal, Ms Perry successfully argued her dismissal had been unfair. The EAT found there were no legal reasons preventing an employee claiming sick pay for a job they were unfit to do, whilst also working in another job which they are medically fit for.

Ms Perry’s compensation was reduced by 30%. This was because there was a clause in her contract requiring her to ask permission to attend a second job whilst on sick leave. Ms Perry claimed she had misunderstood the clause, believing it to only apply to seeking new work.

Read more on this case on local government lawyer for a breakdown of the ruling, and it’s implications for employment law.


Government Guidance on SSP & Second Jobs

There is specific government guidance supporting the right to work in one job whilst claiming sick pay in another.

“Employees can qualify for sick pay from more than one job. They could also qualify in one job but be fit for work in another. For example if one job is physical work that they cannot do while ill but the other is office-based.”

UK Gov SSP Employer Guide

Conclusion

There are two key factors to consider when deciding if it will be acceptable to work another job while on sick leave.

  1. Would the reason you are signed off one job, also prevent you working another? If the answer is yes, you should not continue working the second job.
  2. What does your employment contract say about working while on sick leave. If you are prohibited, or need to ask permission you should act accordingly.

The tribunal decision combined with specific government SSP advice means that so long as the above questions have been considered, it should be acceptable to claim sick pay in one job whilst working another.

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