Ill-health Dismissal

Ill-health dismissals present a unique set of challenges for both employers and employees in the context of UK employment law. When an employee's health becomes a significant impediment to performing their job duties, employers may consider dismissal. However, the legal landscape surrounding ill-health dismissals is intricate, requiring a careful balance between the employer's operational needs and the employee's rights. This article explores the complexities of ill-health dismissals, examining the legal framework, procedural requirements, and considerations for fair and compassionate resolutions.

Legal Framework
The legal foundation for ill-health dismissals in the United Kingdom is primarily rooted in the Employment Rights Act 1996. This legislation outlines the rights of employees, including protections against unfair dismissal. When it comes to ill-health dismissals, employers must navigate the legal parameters to ensure compliance with both employment and discrimination laws.

Duty to Make Adjustments
Employers are obligated to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate employees with health conditions or disabilities. This duty arises under the Equality Act 2010, which aims to prevent discrimination in the workplace. Before considering dismissal, employers must explore and implement reasonable adjustments to enable the employee to continue their employment, unless such adjustments would impose an undue burden on the employer.

Medical Evidence and Consultation
When an employee's ill-health becomes a cause for concern, employers should seek medical evidence to assess the nature and extent of the health condition. This may involve consultation with occupational health professionals or the employee's medical practitioners. A thorough understanding of the employee's health is crucial for making informed decisions regarding adjustments or, in extreme cases, dismissal.

Fair Procedures
Ill-health dismissals demand adherence to fair and transparent procedures. Employers should engage in open communication with the employee, discussing the impact of their health on their ability to perform their duties. Consultation is key, and employees should have the opportunity to provide input and discuss potential adjustments. Fair procedures also involve considering alternative roles or adjustments before contemplating dismissal.

Consideration of Alternatives
Before deciding on dismissal, employers should explore alternative measures, such as adjusting the employee's workload, modifying responsibilities, or offering a temporary period of reduced hours. Where feasible, employers should consider alternative roles that accommodate the employee's health condition. This approach aligns with the duty to make reasonable adjustments and demonstrates a commitment to supporting employees with health challenges.

Capability Dismissal
Ill-health dismissals often fall under the category of capability dismissals, where the employee's health prevents them from performing their job adequately. For such dismissals to be fair, employers must demonstrate that they have followed a fair procedure, obtained medical evidence, and considered all reasonable adjustments. Employers must also show that dismissal is justified due to the operational needs of the business.

Redundancy Considerations
In some cases, ill-health dismissals may coincide with redundancy situations. Employers must be cautious to distinguish between ill-health dismissals and redundancy, ensuring that the decision is based on genuine health-related concerns rather than a disguised redundancy situation. Clear communication and transparency are essential in navigating these complex scenarios.

Ill-health dismissals require a delicate and considerate approach to balance the operational needs of the employer with the rights and well-being of the employee. Employers must adhere to fair procedures, consult with the employee, seek medical evidence, and explore reasonable adjustments before contemplating dismissal. By navigating the legal framework with sensitivity and compassion, employers can address ill-health dismissals in a manner that is legally sound, ethical, and fair to all parties involved.
Back to blog
UOL Case Bank

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.