If you sustain an injury which limits your mobility can a UK employer force you to take time off and claim statutory sick pay?

In this situation the employee:

  • Has been working while injured but undiagnosed condition
  • Has a track record of working at home
  • Has a "Fit Note" from their GP

However the employer is stating that they have a "Duty of Care" and cannot permit the employee to work (and therefore not pay them their salary).

If the employee wants to work and can prove they are able to without loss of productivity does the employer have any rights to prevent them doing so?

For bonus points if this is legal how can the employee prevent being forced to take the time off?

  • Is this case real - it's happening to you, or is it hypothetical? Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 11:06
  • A friend of mine thought it may be a real possibility, it looks like the issue is resolved but I'm still curious.
    – Liath
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 11:17
  • 1
    The reason I am concerned is that if we ask you for clarifications for a case that's hypothetical, the issue statement will get dicey. Thanks for the clarification. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 11:28
  • 1
    Ask the Citizens Advice Bureau... they're normally good for this sort of thing and have actual lawyers who may be better than a random person on the internet.
    – Ben
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 11:53
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    Did you mean "statutory"? I'm pretty sure "statuary" isn't what you meant. (Don't blink.) Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 0:04

1 Answer 1


This case seem extremely unlikely as the the employer would probably not be qualified to overrule the expert advice provided in the form of the "fit note" from the GP.

I would enquire at the local Citizen advice bureau (which is free legal advice) whether that would constitute ground for unfair dismissal and possible discrimination.

  • It can depend in a minority of suitations. For example in the UK Air traffic staff do not work whilst suffering from a cold when you would normally go into the office
    – Pepone
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 20:04
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    Absolutely, there could be exceptions due to specific situations. In principle the GP ought to take the profession of the patient into account when making his/her assessment. Employers with specific restrictions are generally upfront with it.
    – Ghaag
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 21:08
  • Yes, but not every GP has the same grasp on what a professional possibly entails. If somebody says they're a factory worker and have a cold, some factories will allow them in, some of them will not (mainly because of product contamination risk) Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 16:44

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