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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49788
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I need some advice regarding my employment. I am currently

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Hello. I need some advice regarding my employment. I am currently on sick leave for two weeks and my manager keeps texting and emailing me to do some work at home saying that all managers have to do this regardless of being on sick leave! I have no contract and have already given in my notice. I have two questions here. 1. Is it right that my manager is still contacting me like this and 2. I wish to leave earlier as my daughter will be having a tonsellectomy soon and will need two weeks recovery time. Thank you in advance.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

How long have you worked there for and are you a paid employee or self employed?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have been there for eighteen months and I am employed.

OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you

Thanks for your patience. Whilst other managers may be willing to work whilst on sick leave, you cannot be forced to do so. Being signed off sick means you are unfit to work, be it at work or at home. Whilst there may be a specific clause which allows the employer to try and ask you to help out when off sick, you do not have a contract so there would be no such option for your employer and you are entirely within your rights to refuse to carry out any work whilst you are signed off sick. If they continue contacting you to do work whilst you are off then that could amount to harassment.

If you wanted to leave earlier than your notice period then that would have to be done with the employer's consent. If you leave early without their consent that could amount to breach of contract on your part. The alternative is to continue being signed off sick for the duration of the notice period.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the position you will be in if you were to breach your contract by leaving early, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you. If there is a written contract in place and it contains a specific clause detailing the notice period an employee is supposed to give if they wanted to leave their employment, they will be contractually bound by it. Therefore, if the employee fails to honour this notice period then they will be acting in breach of contract. The employer then has the option of suing the employee to seek compensation for damages resulting from their breach. However, in reality such claims are very rarely made. This is mainly due to the costs and time involved, also the relatively small damages that can be recovered. Also the employer has to show that actual losses have been incurred and often that is not easy to do. So whilst there is no way of predicting whether the employer will take this any further or not, chances are that they will not. A more likely outcome is that the employer refuses to provide a reference in the future or if they do, it could mention that the employee had breached their contract.

It is therefore best to try and negotiate a mutually acceptable notice period that would suit both parties. However, if that is not possible and there is a pressing need to leave early, that is still a possibility, subject to the risks identified above.

Finally, there are circumstances when an employee may be entitled to leave with immediate effect and without honouring their notice period. This occurs when an employer has committed a serious breach of contract first. The whole contract, including the notice periods, then becomes immediately void and the employee would be treated as being 'constructively dismissed'. So if there are reasons to believe the employer has acted in breach of contract, whether a breach of an express contractual term, or other breaches such as bullying, exposing the employee to unreasonable stress, discriminating against them, etc this reason can be relied on in order to leave with immediate effect.