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Can You Be Sacked While On Sick Leave? – Industrial Relations Claims

Can you be sacked while on sick leave? – Industrial Relations Claims

With cold and flu season here, industrial relations expert Miles Heffernan said it’s important that workers know their rights and obligations when it comes to sick leave.

If you’re sick don’t go to work

For a start, if you are clogged up and suffering from aches and pains and have a temperature, it is important that you do not go to work.

Full time employees are entitled to 10 paid sick days a year, which can be used at any time you are sick, or need to care for a family member or someone you live with who is unwell.

If you work part time, you are entitled to a pro-rata amount based on the hours that you work.

Make sure you tell your employer

It is important that you tell your boss as soon as possible that you are going to be taking the day off, and how long you think it will be until you will be able to return to work.

You must provide evidence to your employer if asked

Mr Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Industrial Relations Claims, said you may need to provide a medical certificate.

“The law says even if you take just one day off, your boss can ask you to provide proof that you were sick, or were caring for a family member who was sick,” he said.

“Your employer can’t tell you which doctor to see, and it is not appropriate or proper for anyone from your work to sit in on your appointment.”

Most importantly, you cannot be sacked while you are on sick leave.

“It is unlawful for your employer to fire you for taking a genuine sick day, if can provide proof that you were unwell,” Mr Heffernan said.

Angle Vale Tavern in South Australia.

It is unlawful for you to be sacked for taking sick leave

A recent case before the Fair Work Commission involved bistro worker Corina Shears, who was fired from the Angle Vale Tavern north of Adelaide, when she was off work with gastro and tonsillitis.

Her boss called her when she was at home.

“He rang to advise me he was letting me go due to always being sick or my child being sick,” she told the Commission.

“I mentioned to him whenever I was unable to work I always supplied a doctor’s certificate.  He said, we are a small team and I am being a liability. He then said to me, I will now have more time to be a mum.”

The Fair Work Commission ruled Ms Shears had been unfairly dismissed and ordered the employer to pay her $2,500 compensation.

“Sick leave and taking care of your kids is enshrined in workplace law as a workplace right,” Mr Heffernan said.

“Employers who try and sack a worker or cut their hours because they are sick are running headlong into trouble.”


If you have been sacked for taking sick leave, you are likely to be entitled to compensation.

Please call our specialist team at Industrial Relations Claims today on

1300 045 466

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