Tenants with long term health conditions and disabilities

Sick leave

If you are employed you can take time off work if you’re ill.

You must give your employer a doctor’s ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) if you’ve been ill for more than 7 days in a row and have taken sick leave. This includes non-working days, such as weekends and bank holidays.

If you are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19) you can get an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111.

If you are are off work with any other illness, you can get a fit note from a GP or hospital doctor. If your employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist instead. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report.

Fit notes are free if you have been ill for more than 7 days when you request it. The doctor might charge a fee if you ask for the fit note earlier.

If your note says ‘may be fit for work’, your employer should discuss any changes that might help you return to work (for example, different hours or tasks). You must be treated as ‘not fit for work’ if there’s no agreement on these changes

Sick pay

You may entitled to claim statutory sick pay (SSP). To qualify you must:

  • be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer
  • earn an average of at least £120 per week
  • have been ill, self-isolating or ‘shielding’ for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days)

How many days you can get SSP for depends on why you’re off work.

Agency workers are entitled to SSP.

You can still qualify if you started your job recently and you have not received 8 weeks’ pay yet.

If you’re on a zero hours contract, you can still get sick pay. If your employer says no, ask them to explain why. You can contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you’re not happy with their explanation.

You can still qualify if you’re on furlough.

You will not qualify if you:

  • have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks)
  • are getting Statutory Maternity Pay
  • are self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason

Returning to work

Employers must make changes to an employee’s working conditions if they’re disabled. These changes are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ and could include working shorter hours or adapting equipment employees use at work.

Employees can get free advice from Fit to Work on managing health conditions at work and returning to work from sick leave.

You also might be able to get an Access to Work grant to pay for:

  • special equipment, adaptations or support worker services to help you do things like answer the phone or go to meetings
  • help getting to and from work
  • mental health support
  • communication support at a job interview (for example, a British Sign Language interpreter or a lipspeaker)

Dismissing a long-term sick employee

As a last resort, employers can dismiss an employee who is long-term sick, but before they can do this the employer must:

  • consider if the employee can return to work – such as by working flexibly or part-time, doing different or less stressful work (with training if necessary)
  • consult with the employee about when you could return to work and if their health will improve

An employee can take their case to an employment tribunal if they think they’ve been unfairly dismissed.

Are you disabled?

You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

Disability related financial support

There is a wide range of disability-related financial support, including benefits, tax credits, payments, grants and concessions.

Some benefits you might get are:

Depending on your circumstances, you might also be able to get:

If you’re disabled you can apply for the following:

You do not have to pay VAT on certain goods and services if they’re just for your own use and you’re disabled or have a long term illness.

Carers Allowance

Your partner or family member may be entitled to claim Carers Allowance. They could get £67.25 a week if they care for you at least 35 hours a week.

Help with claiming benefits

Nquire offers free support, advice, and information to people in and around West Reading. This includes help with welfare benefits advice, form filling, letter writing, and debt referrals. Email admin@nquire.org or call 01189 959 8558

Reading Community Welfare Rights provides a specialist service to all sectors of the local community in relation to all welfare benefits including assistance with benefit checks and form filling, advice on your right to challenge decisions, help with appeals, and preparation for court hearings. Email advisor@readingspecialist.co.uk or call 0118 955 1070

Communicare offers support with applications and form filling. Email office@communicare.org.uk or call 0118 926 3941

Your tenancy and reasonable adjustments

Section 20 Equality Act 2010 (EA 2010) creates a requirement to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

Sch 4 EA 2010 states that only the landlord or manager of a rented property has the duty to make reasonable adjustments, but this includes the owner of a property, an estate agency or management company.

Under s20 EA 2010, the landlord must take reasonable steps to avoid any provision, criterion or practice, or any physical feature which puts a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled. In addition, reasonable steps must be taken to provide any auxiliary aid necessary to ensure that a disabled person is not at a substantial disadvantage in comparison with persons who are not disabled. In practice, once a landlord becomes aware of a tenant’s disability, the key obligations placed on landlords are

  • to change policy or practice, including the terms of the tenancy agreement. For example, a term saying pets are not allowed in the property could be changed to allow a disabled person to have an assistance dog
  • to provide additional aids or services. An example may be supplying a tenant with a copy of their tenancy agreement in a format that is more suited to their needs, such as easy read or braille.

However, landlords will not usually have an obligation to make structural changes which would substantially and permanently alter the property. For example, there is no obligation to remove walls, widen doorways or install permanent ramps, or to carry out any change that would alter the physical features of the property.

Suitable housing

The council’s housing allocation policy sets out who gets priority on the waiting list. You must be given some priority or ‘reasonable preference’ if you need to move because of a health problem or disability.

More information and registration form for Reading Borough Council’s Home Choice.