The question: How do I explain I was sacked after my sick leave?
I have had about 25 days off this year due to depression relating to the serious illness of other members of my family. Because my contract states I cannot have more than 20 days' sick leave, it has been terminated. What is the best way to address this issue with potential new employers?
The solution: Be honest about your history
Not knowing the circumstances makes this a hard question, but it does seem harsh that your contract was terminated while you were suffering from a debilitating illness.
Honesty is the best policy. All references will have a question about the amount of time taken as sick leave.There may also be a question on whether your old company would re-employ you, and if not, why not.
Rather than being defensive, lay your case out in your mind and on paper. Run through it with somebody impartial who can let you know if you sound too critical about your old firm.
If you are able to show your company was overzealous in the application of your contract and that apart from this incident you have a good record, both in terms of productivity and attendance, then you have absolutely nothing to be concerned about.
However, if there have been a few periods in the past year where outside pressures have led you to be absent from work, you may need to address some issues about the effectiveness of the treatment of your depression.
This is a sensitive subject but there are many examples of companies resorting to the fine print in a contract rather than redundancy. However, it seems you have received a less than charitable response.
Be honest and up-front. If the company is not willing to listen, it is probably not the one for you.
Solution by Tracey Abbott, divisional director, Zarak Group
The panel: MSB International, Best International, BritishComputer Society, Computer Futures, Computer People, Elan, Reed Technology, Zarak Technology, E-Skills UK
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