People with M.E. often feel under pressure to continue working when they first become ill or when their symptoms worsen.
Unfortunately, trying to ‘push on’ through this illness can be counter-productive, potentially causing longer sickness absences and slowing recovery.
You must tell your employer straight away if you are too ill to go to work.
How and when you must tell them is usually a contractual obligation, described in your contract or staff handbook. In turn, they have a duty to record sickness absence eg. for sick pay purposes.
If you are ill for up to 5-7 days, you can usually complete a form on your return (self-certification), so you can get sick pay. After this time, you will usually have to get a fit note from your GP.
Citizen’s Advice produce a factsheet on sickness at work.
Capability and conduct
When an employee is genuinely experiencing difficulties in carrying out their job because of a long-term fluctuating health problem, this is a capability and a disability issue – not a disciplinary matter or poor conduct.
Your employer should make reasonable adjustments and support a phased return to work, to help you to continue in work.
If you decide to reduce your hours or change your role, make sure you know what if any impact this will have on your income.
You may wish to call our Welfare Rights Line for advice on benefits in work.
CIPD guidance for managers
In 2010 the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) produced guidance: Manager support for return to work following long-term sickness absence.
Your manager is not obliged to follow this guideline but if s/he is wondering how best to support you, this may help them.