12 December 2019
What you need to know about sick pay

This is the time of year that you will hear coughs and sniffles around the work place. People will be coming into work in a cough syrup coma with a box of tissues tucked under their arm. As much as you try to avoid it by steering clear of those who are unwell and equipping yourself with anti-bacterial gel, it is inevitable that you may go down with a cold yourself. (Unless you have an immune system made of steel!)

Many people avoid taking time off work when they are sick, especially for a common cold. This can be extremely frustrating for others in the office who don’t want to fall ill themselves. If you fall ill to the dreaded Winter sniffles, you are entitled to take time off work until you recover. There are several rules and regulations under the law which determine your rights relating to sickness and leave, and it would benefit you to know of them. Each company differs so be sure to read your employment contract thoroughly to know where you stand.

First off, you need to know who to call when you are sick. Most companies will have a deadline for this, for example before you are due to start work. You may be asked to call HR or your line manager. Employers do expect that it is you who calls in sick and not your partner, roommate or cat. A text or email may not be received well. You don’t need to go into specifics about your illness when calling in, but you should try to keep your manager informed of your progress and your expected date of return.

There are two standard forms of sick pay:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – the minimum amount that you are legally entitled to

Employers are legally required to pay qualifying staff SSP. It will be paid to you the same way as your wages; that is, on your normal payday, with tax and National Insurance deducted. SSP is not payable for the first three qualifying days of your absence so you only qualify for SSP if you are off for more than four days.

  • company sick pay (also known as occupational or contractual sick pay) – additional or more generous sick pay that your employer may choose to give you

Unfortunately, only half (55.9%) of companies today offer Occupational Sick Pay, placing many of the nation’s workers in a financial conundrum if they can’t afford to take time off. If you’re not sure whether your employer offers OSP, then check out your staff handbook.

The Government states that you only need a note from the doctor if you take more than 7 days off sick. They also explain that employers can also ask employees to fill in a form when they return to work to confirm they’ve been off sick for up to 7 days. This is called ‘self-certification’. Employers usually provide their own version of this form.

If you have any questions relating to sick pay, then speak to your HR department who will be happy to go through it with you. It is always good to know where you stand at work especially when it comes to sick and holiday pay to ensure that you get the time off you are entitled too.



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