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Termination of Employment Due to Ill Health

When an employee becomes ill he runs the risk of losing his job under certain circumstances. Whereas most employers allow ill employees to take time off, the amount of time taken can determine if the employee has a job to return to when he recovers.

The Law

Entitlement to sick days is not a guarantee. For example, California employers are not required to provide their employees with sick days, paid or not. If an employee's sickness causes him to miss too many days of work, and the employee is an "at will" employee, his employer has the legal right to terminate him. An "at will" employee is an one who does not have a contract, and can quit, or be terminated, at any time.


Under the guidelines of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees who have worked for their employer for 12 months, and have logged at least 1,250 hours of work, are eligible to take up to 12 weeks off to deal with an illness. However, if the employee does not recover after this period of time, the employer may legally terminate the employee.

Employee Rights

If an employee becomes ill due to her job environment, and cannot return to work, she may be able to file for workers' compensation. Most states allow the employee to receive a non-taxable partial wage replacement. However, if the illness was caused by the employee's own misconduct, such benefits are not provided, and the employer has the legal right to terminate the employee.