Create A Sick Leave Policy For Your Business

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We all get ill and need to take sick leave. From defeating colds to managing chronic pain, there’s nothing anyone can do about feeling ill on occasion. As an employer, it’s worth making sure that you have clear, fair rules in place so that no one feels obliged to turn up to the office and spread their flu germs everywhere. Equally you should establish an understanding of the difference between short and long-term sick leave, so everyone knows where the company stands on both.

Sick Notes

The British public are no strangers to the sick note. School children have been carrying them in their satchels (forged or otherwise) for years. Anything to be excused from cross country running in mid November…

However, using them as an adult is a less familiar situation.

There is legislation that makes this relatively simple: if 7 days have been taken off work for sickness reasons you are legally required to provide a sickness note from a doctor.

It is at your discretion as a company whether or not you actually require this, but there are clear legal grounds to request one.

A note on sick notes.

If you don’t feel right insisting that your employees see a GP, there is a middle ground between a doctor’s sick note and nothing. As an employer you can create your own sick leave policy for your company.

A concept called ‘self-certification’ allows employers to provide their own version of a sickness form that their team can fill out when returning from work. This is worth considering, particularly for smaller teams.

Does sickness affect annual leave?

A team member has fairly strong legislative rights around annual leave when they’re off ill.

Here’s a quick summary of the main points:

  • Holiday is still accrued while a team member is off sick.
  • Any annual leave allowance that isn’t used because of sickness is eligible to be carried over into next year’s leave allowance.
  • If a team member is ill just before or during their holiday, they can take that annual leave as sick leave instead (this can complicate payment, so see this article for more details).
  • A team member can choose to take the time they’re off sick as annual leave. The main use case for this is if they’re not eligible for sick pay.

Longer-Term Sickness

One of the most undesirable situations in business is the prospect of losing a team member for a longer period due to illness. As these situations tend to be stressful at the best of time, it’s important that you take responsibility for understanding their rights ahead of time.

Definition of Long-Term Sickness

Any person off work sick for longer than 4 weeks is considered long-term sick.

Helping A Team Member Return To Work

Helping someone back to work in a timely fashion is a top priority for all involved.

The team member can ask to be referred to Fit For Work - a service that delivers impartial advice helping resolve any obstacles preventing that person returning to work.

Proof Of Sickness

A return to work plan provided by the service above can be accepted as proof of long-term sickness (this is at the employer’s discretion) . The team member doesn’t need to continually return to their GP every 7 days to update their sick note.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

There are quite a few caveats in being eligible for statutory sick pay. Always consult a government guide if you’re having doubts over whether you’re eligible.

If you are eligible, you’re entitled to at least £89.35 per week for up to 28 weeks.

Companies can choose to allow for more than the statutory amount. As with all HR policies like sick leave, this is something that team members should research when they’re joining a new company.

The company’s sick leave policy is certainly one that should go in the HR handbook.



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