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Can you be sacked for having depression?

Can you be sacked for having depression?

I have been suffering from panic attacks and depression for the past 6 months due mostly to the situation I'm going through at work. Things have come to a head and I want to quit but I also want to try and sort things out at work to see if I can make things better. If I reveal that I've had depression therefore, can they fire me? I've never missed any time at work due to this condition. Any help is much appreciated.



1/18/2009 12:09:51 PM


Assuming you've more than 12 months continuous employment, No ! - they cannot fire you for revealing that you suffer from depression and indeed, look at it the same [which it is] as if you suffered from a bad leg. Although not making you miss work if it's gone on for 6 months and seriously affects your day to day life then you might even fall within the scope of the Disability Discrimination Act in which case it is absolutely imperative that your employer is notified about it and if so it will confer upon you a whole new raft of protection against any discrimination. For example, you might refer yourself in confidence to your employer's occupational health advisers if they have any or get a letter from your GP or consultant. You owe it to yourself probably not to let this situation continue as it stands - think you do need to take some action in something like one of the ways suggested.


1/18/2009 1:33:16 PM

Whilst agreeing with Bubbles - and you must look after your health - I'd have to ask "what do you want to do about it"? Because you haven't told them anything up until now, and a couple of days ago you got a warning on performance. Put very blandly, like that, they could very easily see it as making excuses. So what is it that you want to happen as a result of telling them? I'm not going to speculate on reasons and possible outcomes, but I think it's important that you are clear that you have something you want to achieve from disclosing this information, and a strategy for achieving it. Simply telling them isn't enough.


1/18/2009 2:31:18 PM

same predicament


I am in the same boat,my company has put me under so much pressure with false accusations that I had a stress related breakdown whilst at work due to disciplinary procedures not been followed.My Doctor put me on the sick from august till nov(I was admitted to hospital 3 times)with anxiety, then after numourous meetings was told I would be receiving a written warning!This was told to my union rep,as I had to leave the meeting.I have never recieved a letter confirming this.

Anyway I returned to work and was told I would be starting back part time this never happened I went straight back to full time!. I did not want to cause a fuss as I felt that potentially my job was at risk.

After 4wks,on Fri 19th dec I was called to my head office under the guise of delivering some things,When arrived was ask to follow an area manager to the HR dept for a meeting,this caused me to start having a panic attack and I locked myself in my car.

I managed to ring a member of my family who contacted my union,they in turn said I need not go to this meeting until i recieved a letter outlining details.

I was told to go back to work(I am a mobile manager so travel around), I did not know what I was doing and drove in a confused state to my Doctors I sat in the surgery and then just got up and left!.My mental state was all over the place to say i was confused is an understatement.

I am called every day with details of where i should travel to,but since the 19th dec was not called or indeed contacted giving me any work or asking about my welfare,the doctor gave me another sicknote from the 5th jan and increased my medication.

I recieved no wage from the 19th dec until 2nd jan No bank holiday pay and no wage slips,they withheld my expenses which was for £290 which caused me to accrue bank charges,I have since recieved the expenses after many phone calls and emails.

I know that if and when i return to work I will be facing dismissal,what I want to know is should I ask my union about a compremise agreement or should I get dismissed and take the tribunal route



1/26/2009 11:09:50 AM

I'm not entirely sure what's going on here. You say that you are facing dismissal - is this simply for your absences, or is there something else going on? It would be impossible for us to tell you whether to negotiate a compromise payment now or take the employer to a tribunal, as we do cannot assess the strength of your case either way, and in any case it rather depends on the employer's attitude, not ours.

As you have union representation already, it may be appropriate to talk things through with your rep, and decide on your best course of action from there.

monkey steve

1/26/2009 11:50:48 AM

I have got to agree that I am as confused as Steve. You must speak to the union. But I am assuming that on the face of what you have said, you "disappeared" from work at some time on 19th December, and from your employers point of view, disappeared without trace until you submitted a sick note on 5th January. If you didn't give your employer any explanation for your absence from work, then they are entitled to deduct payment for the period, and possibly to bring disciplinary charges.


1/26/2009 1:11:21 PM


I have recieved letters asking me to attend a Disciplinary meeting unauthorised absence (when they never contacted me with work)

claiming hrs not worked (load of rubbish)

They fitted a tracker to the company vehicle that i had to use for 3 wks.(I used my own car on occassions due to lack of confidence in a lrg transit van,no training given)

I have evidence to support this.

The previous meetings in August were for incidents that had happened over 7yrs before for which my company were advised these could not be used(I had no idea they were dissatisfied)

Correct procedures were not followed as set in the employee manual,and my health has suffered because of this,and i feel that they know how frigile I am and are using this to their advantage.

Thus this makes me feel that they just want to get rid of me by any means!


1/26/2009 1:23:33 PM

Yes I agree I dissappeared,but due to my mental state at that point i.e being brought to my head office under false pretences. I drove in a very confused state to my GP.

As I said with my job I am called every day with details of where I am to work,I was not called on the 22nd dec or anyday there after.

Dont my company have a duty to call me as they have always done?

The bottem line is I feel is that they have ruined my home life caused me finacial hardship and are still not satisfied.

Should I just resign? Or arrange a date for a DP and when dismissed seek legal advice.

I am still signed on sickleave at the moment


1/26/2009 1:37:22 PM

Do not resign. This never solves anything. Your employer can say in a reference that you resigned pending a disciplinary, and that won't help one bit to get a new job.

I have to be honest - I am not sure about how the absnece will play out. You see, you "disappeared". Now in other circumstances, you wouldn't believe how many complaints we get from people whose employers call them daily! It seems your complaint is that they didn't! I'm not being unsympathetic - you are and obviously have been in a very bad place in terms of your mental health, and I really do understand that you may not have been thinking straight at all. And you MUST speak to your union without delay. But the fact is that when they didn't phone you, you also didn't phone them to ask where you should go for work. So it seems that it is 6 of one and half a dozen of the other, and I couldn't even guess where a decision might fall - even at tribunal. But I also don't know much about the background and so on - and your union do.

For now, I think your first priority has to be your health. Your employer would be foolhardy to proceed with the disciplinary until you are fit. I think it might also be wise to allow your doctor and your union to talk to each other. I'm no expert, but your behaviour sounds so erratic that it is possible you had a nervous breakdown. That would account for your irrational actions, and certainly anyone in their right mind would have banged in a self-certification straight away. Not sat around for two more weeks waiting for someone to tell them what to do!

But resigning is never a wise idea. It is too late to mend the potential damage to references, so if it comes to it, you may as well let them sack you. Then at least you have a chance of making a tribunal claim. Or your union may be able to force some form of settlement for your resignation.


1/26/2009 3:06:44 PM

I'm not sure it's quite so black and white to lay all the blame at the employer over the non-payment of your salary.

On the one hand you seem to be saying that you were not well enough to work, but in the absence of a sick note to back this up are trying to say that the employer should be treating you as having been at work as they did not ring you to tell you where to go to work on those days. Which is it - were you too unwell to work, or well enough to work and sitting by your phone waiting for the employer to ring?

From the employer's position you have left work in a clearly distressed state, and following periods of absence due to similar illness. The next thing the employer gets is a sick note, some two weeks later, and apparently not backdated (?).

I think it would be reasonable for the employer to expect you to contact them if you were able to work, and certainly to do so if you were waiting for them to ring you. What would you normally do if you are expecting to work and the employer does not ring you? Regardless of what might usually happen, you are now expecting to be paid for a period when you did not work, did not contact them and did not provide a note to confirm that you were sick.

I understand that your mental state has a huge bearing on what went on, but from the employer's point of view there is nothing to back up what actually went on.

monkey steve

1/26/2009 3:11:44 PM

Hi again

Thanks to both of you for your advice

will be ringing my union to have an indepth chat as to how to proceed.

I feel though that ,this is a no win situation the thought of seeing the managers at work fills me with dread and makes me anxious on minute I'm positive the next negative.

anyway enough of my rambling on,will keep you posted



1/27/2009 12:29:34 PM

Yes, but depending on your employment conditions, your union may be able to make some progress. As I said (and Steve did too) the AWOL issues isn't easy. Biut "not easy" and "giving up" aren't the same thing. Especially if your doctor considers that you have had whatever the new fangled name is for a nervous breakdown - which is why talking to your doctor is very important.

For a start off, if you have company paid sick leave - well you could possibly be off for a very long time on the sick. No need to rush back. And they'd be really stupid to want to be rushing you into a hearing for discipline whilst signed off (very) sick, a sickness which is a result of unwarranted attempts to discipline you for something that happened years previously, and then to unlawfully get you into a meeting without your union rep on the pretext of making a delivery. Now that really wouldn't look very good in a tribunal would it? And given your mental illness, I think you are probably now - thanks entirely to your employers actions - qualifying for protections under the Disability Discrimination Act, since your illness is clearly impacting significantly on your ability to work and live normally, and is likely now to be a long term condition. And if the illness is work related and can be evidenced as being so (and you certainly have something of a case here for victimisation) then this would be a breach of the employers duties under health and safety regulations.

So if I had company sick pay I would be continuing to be very very ill for a very very long time. And even if I didn't - SSP is better than the dole! So I would still be very sick (only sicker because I would be poorer - if you see my drift!).

So already the costs could be ratcheting up for the employer. Then there's the fact that, in your unions place, I would be emphasising the danger to health and safety, the unlawful attempts to get you into HR without your union rep, the irreparable damage to your health, the prospect of unfair dismissal - and that's just if I didn't think you had much of a case! I don't know, because I don't have enough information, but the better your case, the more I would throw in. I can make a case more tragic than Hamlet!

By that point in time your employer should be uneasily eyeing up the prospective legal bill - tribunals alone cost a phenomenal amount, win or loose. This can often lead to a totally ridiculous offer to pay you off, which I would then generally treble (quadruple if I was very sure of my ground, or very annoyed - I would only reject it if I had an iron clad "can't loose" tribunal case). The union rep and the employer then haggle, and generally the battle ends somewhere around the middle between the two, perhaps a little better if your employers legal people have told them they are on risky ground.

And all that is before you even have to take the risk on a tribunal!

So if your union have anything about then, then you are a long way off needing to pessimistic about the outcome yet. Just don't get too cheerful about it either - it does depend on the union strength and expertise, and besides which, you don't want to look any better!


1/27/2009 2:02:35 PM


hi again

recieved a letter this morning advising me that a disaplinary was held on the 19th Jan in my absence and that I have been sacked on gross misconduct(

I will recieve no notice pay but will recieve my P45.

Can they do this I am still signed sick by my GP


1/29/2009 1:41:00 PM

Did you tell the employer that you were not attending? Did you speak to the union about the letters? Holding a hearing in your absence IF the employer knew you were ill is foolish, but not impossible. What have YOU done to deal with being unable to attend? Or did you just ignore the letters?


1/29/2009 1:52:26 PM


My employers were notified that I was not well enough mentally and emotionally to attend a meeting on the 16th Jan and asked for it to be deferred until my doctor thought that I was well enough this was in agreement with my union as they were going to attend with me.

At this moment in time I am waiting for my rep to call me at home


1/29/2009 2:00:20 PM

I presume you can prove this? If so, your employers have just handed you a tribunal hearing on a plate. Your union should now be submitting an ET1 (personally I wouldn't bother appealing - you don't have to in a dismissal - and you really don't want to go back now do you?) I have been involved in several such cases, and on every occasion a dismissal in absentia whilst the employee was declared unfit to attend has, in itself, been considered automatically unfair.


1/29/2009 4:16:26 PM


Have just spoke to someone at the GMB as my rep is away and they have advised me to write an appeal letter asap which I have just done!

I have a meeting with my union on tuesday so will keep you informed thanks for all your advice


1/29/2009 4:36:02 PM

Unless you actually want your job back, I am surprised at their advice! Because if the employer is smart enough (and ok, there's been little evidence so far!) they will reverse their decision and wait around to pick you off for something else less in your favour. It wouldn't, personally speaking, have been my first option.


1/29/2009 5:05:34 PM