Even though you can take a sick leave or hospitalisation leave during the notice period, it will in no way change your last day of employment. You are still considered an employee until the end of your notice period. Your employer is also not allowed by law to extend your notice period in any way.

Normally, the notice period is meant to offer you and your employer time to plan for a handover of duties. As a responsible employee, you should work with your employer to ensure a smooth transition, and in as many ways as possible avoid taking leaves that will seem unusual.

What is a Notice Period?

A notice period is simply regarded as the length of time you will continue working between delivering your resignation letter until your final day of work. These notice periods are normally two weeks or longer. Howbeit, you can determine the needed length of your notice period by considering variables like the state of your current projects and the schedule of your co – workers.

But irrespective of what you think, when exiting a company, it is standard protocol to provide your supervisor with a letter of resignation. And after you submit your letter with a reasonable notice period, you show respect by coming to work as usual, allowing your supervisor enough time to organize workflow and tasks prior to your departure.

However, as an employee, you can only take personal or sick leave during a notice period if you provide notice of the leave as soon as possible or even provide evidence if the employer asks for it (e.g. medical certificate). However, remember that an employer cannot force an employee to take a leave as part of the notice period.

Nonetheless, just because you put in your resignation letter doesn’t mean your employer is required to guarantee that you can work through your notice period. There are many other reasons why your employer could let you go even if you extended the courtesy of providing advance or written notice that you are leaving the company.

Factors to Consider Before Calling in Sick During a Notice Period

An employee can take annual or sick leave during a notice period if the employer agrees to the leave. But there are other factors to consider to avoid being on the wrong side of the law. These factors include;

  1. Pay in Lieu of Notice

If for instance you call in sick and your employer says, “Let us just go ahead and end the employment relationship now,” the employer might be indirectly suggesting what’s called “pay in lieu of notice.” It simply entails that the employer accepts your resignation but may not see the need in continuing the relationship beyond the date on which you gave notice.

Howbeit, it is odd that the pay-in-lieu -of notice occurs after you call in sick and not on the date you tendered your resignation. For clarification, always confirm that your employer accepted your resignation but that the company will pay you for the remainder of your notice period.

  1. Always Seek Clarification

It is always advisable you ask your employer to clarify whether your employment record will reflect resignation or termination. You will need this information anyway so that you can explicitly state to future employers what they will find when they call your previous employer for verification as part of a background check.

In addition, if your resignation was not accepted by the employer and the company insists that you were instead terminated, you could be eligible for unemployment benefits. But it is still pertinent you inquire from your state labour and industrial relations laws for specific guidance on your eligibility for benefits.

Most times, it tends to be difficult to justify eligibility for people who quit their jobs, but if you were terminated for reasons other than gross misconduct, you could receive weekly benefits until you find your next job.

  1. Employment-At-Will Doctrine

Owing to the employment-at-will doctrine, which is a practice that most private sector employers follow, your employer can terminate the working relationship at any time of their choice. Note that the company does not need a reason, such as you calling in sick after you have given your two – week notice that you are leaving.

Notice or not, your employer can cut all ties at any time, for any reason or for no reason, with or without notice. Have it mind that the only time an employer can’t terminate you based on the at – will doctrine is when you have an employment agreement, when you are protected by a labour union contract or if you exercise your rights under public policy.

  1. Possible FMLA Violations

You should also know that there is a possibility that your employer may be violating the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, if you were previously approved for intermittent leave and the day you called in sick was a FMLA – related absence.

In the United States, the FMLA offers up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job – protected leave for a serious health condition of your own or a family member. Some FMLA – eligible workers take intermittent leave for conditions that require brief, periodic absences, such as taking one day off each week for radiation therapy.

Nonetheless, if you called in sick as part of your intermittent leave that is already approved under FMLA, then your employer may be violating the FMLA law if you get fired for using a sick day that is part of your intermittent leave entitlement. Remember, even if you have only two weeks or less to go until you leave the company, under FMLA your job is still protected.

Conclusion

Whether you are in a position for a few months or a few years, it is always advisable to leave on positive terms. When you apply for future positions, you may need recommendations or referrals from your current employer. Providing a considerate notice may increase your former employer’s likelihood to speak positively about your time with the company. However, if you are fired after calling in sick, ask your employer if you will be paid.

Ajaero Tony Martins