Fired for calling in sick? When to speak with a lawyer

July 8, 2014

Sooner or later, you’re going to miss work due to illness. But what happens if you get fired for calling in sick?

Fired for calling in sick? When to speak with a lawyer

Every company has different attendance policies and sick day rules. What’s perfectly fine for one employer can land you in serious trouble with another. If you’ve been let go for using too many sick days, it’s time to assess your situation.

Don't fake being "sick" then brag

Coming up with bogus reasons to take a sick day is likely to backfire on you at some point.

  • Some employers have found supposedly "ill" employees posting on social media about a fun trip they’re taking, while they’re actually at home "sick"!
  • Don’t tempt fate; the best advice is to use sick days only when you truly need them to avoid any possible professional complications.

Be honest with yourself

Are your sick days truly due to a medical ailment? Or were your sick days suspiciously regulated to Mondays and Fridays, usually right before or after a big project or a great concert?

  • If that’s the case, it may be time to put your nose to the grindstone and start looking for a new job.
  • However, if you truly were experiencing pain and physical symptoms that prevented you from working, it’s time to assess your situation.
  • Speaking with a physician and documenting your illness is the best path forward. Of course, it’s illegal to be fired for no reason, but honestly addressing the reasons for your sick days can help you in more ways than one.
  • Focus on your health and when your condition improves, you’ll be in a dynamic position to reclaim your job or receive greater compensation.
  • You’ll have supporting evidence of true illness from a medical professional and better able to understand the options available to you.

Follow your paper trail

Knowledge is power. Take a moment to collect the evidence surrounding your sick day requests and your dismissal. If you’re able, quickly:

  • Gather all information (emails, texts, phone records) you’ve had both about the time you requested off as sick days as well as any conversations you had with your supervisors or Human Resources department regarding your dismissal.
  • Make a timeline of the events leading up to your dismissal. Be sure to chart all the sick days you took and when you were notified of your dismissal. From there, you can fill in the blank spots with corresponding information, like the dates of disciplinary actions taken against you.
  • Consult your employee handbook. The employee handbook is sure to contain references to the company’s sick day policy, which can tell you more about your situation and how to move forward most advantageously.
  • Request a meeting with your HR department to learn why you’ve been let go. They can tell you the exact reasoning behind your dismissal and how your actions violated company policy. Their reasoning may be valid, or it may come under scrutiny if you decide to pursue legal action.

Speak to a legal professional

Employment law protects workers’ rights and ensures that employers are following their responsibilities.

  • Employment lawyers across Canada help workers learn more about the Employment Standards Act, short and long term disability and paid medical leave.
  • If you get fired for calling in sick but your absence from work was legitimate, a lawyer can help you plead your case for unfair dismissal.
  • Just be aware that lawyer fees can quickly add up! Keeping accurate, timely records of your work history, your sick days and your dismissal can only help your lawyer explore your case and help you receive the compensation you deserve and even return to your job.

Keep in mind

  • Remember that a dismissal has to be based on a real and serious cause. If the facts in your specific case point towards unfair dismissal, chances are you'll have a right to be compensated.
  • When an employee challenges an employer in court, it is the employer who has the burden of proof.
  • If the judge finds that the dismissal was wrongful, then the penalty will depend on many factors, including the employee's seniority and the size of the company.
The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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