Being off work when ill is often a difficult time. UCATT officials help members with tailored advice during any period of illness. There are certain rules that need to be followed to prevent any potential problems from arising from a period of sickness absence from the workplace.
Employees must give their employer a doctor’s ‘fit note’ (formerly ‘sick note see below for more details’) if they’re off sick for more than 7 days. Hospital doctors or GPs provide them. They can charge a fee if one is asked for before the 7th day.
Statutory holiday entitlement is built up (accrued) while an employee is off work sick (no matter how long they’re off). Any statutory holiday entitlement that isn’t used because of illness can be carried over into the next leave year.
An employee can be considered to be long term sick when off work for a continuous period of 4 weeks or more. An employee can be dismissed by an employer while off long term sick; but the employer must firstly:
Consider making reasonable adjustment that would allow the employee to make a return to work; this could include changing the arrangements of work, or a different post, including providing necessary training.
The employer would also have to consult with the employee around capability and seek a return to work date, and establish whether an employee’s health is likely to improve in due course, before commencing any action.
Statutory Sick Pay
Employees should normally as a minimum receive Statutory Sick Pay of £86.70 per week for a period of absence due to sickness for up to 28 weeks. You will be paid by your employer in the same way as you normally receive your wages. This is a right payable to every employee, and you cannot sign away your right to the statutory payment unless it is replaced by a company scheme that is at least comparable.
The payment is subject to a three-day qualifying period, and no payment is therefore due for the first three days of illness. Where there is a second period of sickness within eight weeks you do not have to serve the qualification period again. If following the 28 week period you are still unable to return to work you will be eligible for other benefits.
Industry Sick Pay
Any other sick pay is a matter of your contract of employment. For instance, if you work under the CIJC Working Rule Agreement an additional sum of £107.16 a week on top of SSP is payable for up to 10 weeks (depending on length of service) once the three-day qualifying period has been served. Other industrial agreements will have a similar sick pay agreement and you should check the agreement which covers your employment for the specific rates and rules.
In local authorities employees in the main have the contractual right to full pay for 6 months, and half-pay for a further 6 months. Please check with your local shop steward or official if you work for a local authority, as not all agreements are the same.
If you have any concerns about sick pay arrangements then contact your shop steward or regional office.
Guide: Blacklisting and public procurement
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