Can You Fire An Employee For Being Sick?

Being sick is a part of life and an employer expects to some degree for their employees to feel a little down or under the weather at times. It is a normal thing and every employer must accept that. If the employer does not have that kind of expectation from their employees and does not include sick leaves or any kind of emergency leaves, it will be a violation of the employee’s rights. The sickness part is not the issue at all and employers cannot fire their employees based on being sick alone. But they can fire an employee based on their performance at work such as lack of sincerity, fraud, or frequent absenteeism. Let’s Know Can You Fire An Employee For Being Sick?

Can You Fire An Employee For Being Sick

There is a need for better monitoring of leaves.

Most employers have their own employees’ rules and obligations. Every company handbook has its terms and conditions on its attendance policy. For every absence without a genuine reason, an employer can take the initiative of firing the employee only after a series of warnings. There is a legal way to discipline the employees for such absenteeism.

Some points to ponder on.

At-will state’s employers have the discretion to decide and can fire anyone for any reason at any time. But that doesn’t mean that an employer can fire anyone at it at any time. Therefore, you can still get fired. An employer may come under federal or state laws to give certain rights to their employees. But in a lot of cases, it is up to the employer’s wishes.

How to let your employee know about the leave policy?

The detailed information needs to be handed out on the day of joining by the employer. As an employer, one needs to let their employees know about their leave policies so that an employee is not caught off-guard when they make leave violations. A good employer always gives the full knowledge of their company policies on leaves or absenteeism before they take such a drastic move as firing someone from their work.

 An employer must let their employees know about the correct method or rules to follow on calling in sick or taking leaves and how many sick calls are considered excessive absenteeism has to be established. Once you set the tone right in the case of attendance policies, you make your employees aware and informed. When violations are made, you can take strict action against such an act.

How do employers deal with such absenteeism?

Many employers have their way of dealing with such absentee employees. Some of the common ways where such cases are handled are:-

1. Give a verbal warning to your employee:- This is used in the initial stage of the offense. This is done on one on one basis. This talk is a reminder of what policies they need to adhere to while they work in your establishment. Make sure to keep a record of the meeting.

2. If nothing follows after the pep talk, give a written warning to them:- let it be signed and let one or two people witness it. The written warning allows you to document the incident and it keeps a track of your employee’s discrepancy regarding leaves. If he/she repeats such behavior, you will be in a better position to fire them if you have documented it.

3. The last part is to give a final warning:- This should also be signed and witnessed. You need to put the message of your employee’s termination. The most important thing is to have a system in check. Such excessive absenteeism needs to be checked from the top to the bottom. A final warning will give your employees a grace time to mend his/her ways.

Several ways to track the absenteeism of your employees.

It can be tracked by a calendar, spreadsheet or apps, etc. Why employers have to keep a record of it is if the employees sue the company then at least the employer has a proper track record of their absenteeism. Make sure to segregate the kind of leaves your employees have taken. For instance, there are all types of leaves like vacation, FMLA(Family Medical Leave Act federally mandated leave), emergency leaves, leaves requested on short notice. 

This kind of documentation, monitoring, and communication on such offenses can help you in the future if there is any sort of retaliation from the employee. An employer has the right to fire for any excessive absenteeism, while that is true, legal, and binding, one must always remember to look at the gray areas too. Some genuinely ask for leaves for a genuine cause.

 For instance, maybe they are the sole caretaker of their ailing parents or maybe they are struggling to make time for work due to many genuine reasons. An employer must be able to distinguish that. And make room for the compassions to operate in such cases. However, if the employee has the habit of taking time off from work every twice a month or so, such cases need to be dealt with and must be given proper discipline. 

Why must the employer take the trouble dealing with employees’ absenteeism?

It is mandatory to deal with this kind of excessive absenteeism fair and square as this can be demoralizing to the team and you don’t want to overburden your capable and faithful employees due to one absentee in the team. Even though the reason may be genuine enough, you owe it to the other staff not to let them be overburdened with the extra load of work. Therefore as an employer, you need to find the right amount of balance.

Most employees think that a doctor’s note is enough to access a leave but it is not like that. If the employee produces the doctor’s notes many times the employer can decide to fire the employee. But in cases where the employer is legally bound to give the employee a medical-related leave of absence, then the employee will not get fired. This does not hold at an at-will state though. You can be fired at any time for any reason. But here too, it depends on the employer’s reasoning. Some good ones do follow some sort of process before firing their employees. They study the overall performance of their employees and then make the decision.

If your employee is going through some ongoing medical issues, they are required to ask for an FMLA leave. But if you come under a covered employer which means you need to have fifty or more employees, then you can issue the FMLA leave.

How does an employer overcome such a problem?

An employer who is not covered under FMLA may still give leaves under special conditions and can make changes for the employee in their attendance policy. But the best thing to do is find the balance between when to give leaves and when to refuse. As an employer, you need to have a certain set of rules in place so that such things do not end up consuming your time, attention and thus leading you to underperform.

Communication is the key that solving great problems. You need to communicate your stance clearly to your employees before they join the office so that such mistakes or violations don’t hamper the workflow and productivity of the company. The only thing an employer has to do is be vigilant and cautious about such situations. 

Keep a track record of all their absenteeism. So, that will help you to make a human decision. After all, everyone can take a lopsided decision if the events, reasons, and number of absences are not recorded. To some extent, an employer must also make adjustments to their employees’ plight especially in big establishments. It is possible to cover each other’s shifts so an employer must also look at such options and be a little flexible after your employees spend more than half of the day at work and work has to be made fun and fulfilling too. When the employer care for their employees the work environment gets more positively charged. Therefore, the employee’s productivity. 


Everyone has their share of burdens and worries but as a professional, one must always put a check on such problems so that they do not disturb the harmony of the workplace. It is okay to take emergency leaves too sometimes but when your employees have the habit of making it a constant affair or if their genuine problem starts affecting others, as an employer who should work for the interest of everyone, you need to be firm and consistent and fair in your dealings with such absenteeism. After all, the workplace is a place of exchanging and collaborating ideas and if one of the employees is always absent then this can lead to demoralization of the entire team. Therefore, have a proper monitoring mechanism and keep a record of it so that you will not have to go through all the legal battles should your employee charge you of illegally terminating them. 

Can You Fire An Employee For Being Sick?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top