How can I find work after sick leave?

I am seriously thinking of leaving my current job. After a number of structural changes to the organisation, I find myself not actually doing the job I applied to do. In addition, my health has been a concern recently, being affected by a stress-related illness which had caused me to be signed off work for two months last year. My health is my priority. I wish to work, but am concerned how I will be able to get another job having had a long period of sick leave in the last year. Please advise.

Bored young woman sitting at her workplace


I am sorry to hear that you have not had a very good time at work recently. Restructures can be very painful and people do often find themselves in roles that they do not want and have to accept the job as they’ve got bills to pay! I agree that your health is your priority, so it’s important that you make the right decision now to ensure you stay healthy going forward.

As I see it, you’ve got a couple of options:

Option 1 – Stay where you are and try to make your situation better. Can you approach your manager about how you are feeling? Or is there someone in your HR Department that you are comfortable speaking to? Is there something that can be done that can change your current role into one similar to the one they hired you to do? Does your employer offer an Employee Assistance Programme or an Occupational Health team who can help advise you as to any adjustments that can be made to your role? If you have exhausted all this, or if you don’t have these services in your current organisation, it may be that your time at your current organisation has come to an end. This is perfectly acceptable, however, there may be something that they can do to make things easier for you while you look for a new position.

Option 2 – Dust off your CV, update it (and your LinkedIn profile) and get applying for jobs. I don’t think you having a couple of months off work last year for a stress-related illness should trap you in a role you do not want to be doing and stop you finding another job. I’m convinced that the organisation that deserves you will be ok with this. Do you know that employers are not actually allowed to ask about health or disability before a candidate is offered a job? They can ask if you need “reasonable adjustments” to be made for you to attend an interview or assessment (in other words, if you have problems with mobility you could request that the interview be conducted on the ground floor or a floor with a lift) or if the job requires you to lift heavy parcels then a question about that can be asked, but nothing else. If they ask you the question about your sickness absence directly, after offer, you should be honest with them as they may ask the question about sickness on health forms or reference forms to your current employer (if they would even provide this information – many companies don’t nowadays). It shouldn’t put you off.

Good luck with making decisions about what you want to do – I always do a pros and cons list of all the options to help me make the decision that is right for me. I hope this has helped, I have faith that things will work out for you – please do let us know.


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