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Sick leave that ended in termination

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Caroline Mboijana, Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U). 

I work for a business and have been there for quite some time. I was recently unwell, and the illness was prolonged, a lot longer than I had anticipated. I informed my supervisor. I was told I was no longer employed when I returned to work because I had terminated the contract. I like my job and need it to look after my family; what should I do?


Hello Samuel, I am glad to hear that you have recovered. You need to be aware of a few basics in situations like yours, which you’ll need to review. I see that you informed the supervisor that you were unwell. I also know you say it took you longer to recover than anticipated. The question I need to ask is whether you continued to communicate with your supervisor while you were unwell and did you, on your return, submitted your medical records to show you were sick and required the best rest. If you have not done this, I suggest you submit all your medical reports etc, so that your matter is addressed.

In addition to the above have you reviewed your employment contract and looked for the clauses that talk about sick leave or any aspects that speak to one deemed to have broken the contract because they have not shown up to work? Again, read these carefully to understand your obligations as the employee in this contractual relationship.

You may also want to review the Employment Act and see what it says about sick leave and termination. Remember, the Act is the working guideline that informs the employer-employee relationship.

Once you have done all the above, I would seek an audience with both your supervisor and HR and walk through the issues/ concerns that you have. Remember that even in terminating an employment contract, a process must be followed. In many cases, once a conversation is started and documentation is reviewed, the chances for reinstatement are high. Please ensure that you are not emotional as you go into the meeting; be prepared to listen and critically prepare to present your case. If you feel that even after the discussion, you have not heard anything, your alternative recourse is to seek advice from the Labour Office, who may support your case. Good luck.

Caroline Mboijana,

Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U) [email protected]