- Date: 16/07/2010
- Source: Poppleston Allen
- Author/Solicitor: Nick Arron
It is official! We are enjoying a hot summer and long may it last. But what does this mean for employers?
Statistics in Australia have shown that the hottest days of the year are the days when the highest number of people are absent from work due to sickness. Interesting that this statistic coincides with recent criticism by the former Head of the CBI Lord Digby Jones, of a Glaceau Vitamin Water, a brand owned by Coca Cola, which encourages workers to throw sickies.
But what happens if one of your employees takes unauthorised sickness and how does this affect sick pay?
Statutory sick pay only needs to be paid where the absence was genuine and for absences of four days or more. Employees must produce reasonable medical evidence of their incapacity and statutory sick pay does not need to be paid for any period not covered by the evidence.
An employee must inform their employer of any date in which they are unfit for work within seven calendar days of that date.
Where an employee provides details to their employer of their sickness absence more than seven calendar days after the first date they were off sick and the employer does not accept there was good cause for the delay, the employer can withhold payment of SSP. Seven days is the SSP notification limit and it is common for employers to have more onerous notification requirements within their contracts. For example, many employers require staff to report in sick by 9.30am on the first day of their absence and then after at regular intervals. These tighter contractual notification requirements do not override SSP, but failure to notify, may result in losing the right of more generous contractual sick pay schemes.
Evidence of incapacity can be, for example, a doctor’s certificate or a self certification form confirming the cause and duration of the sickness absence. Her Majesties Revenue & Customs provide a same certification form which can be used, see www.hmrc.gov.uk .
For the purposes of SSP, employers cannot insist on a doctor’s certificate for the first 7 days of sickness or for a period of sickness of less than 7 days, however they can do so as a condition of payment of their own contractual sick pay schemes, though rarely does this happen.
On 6th April 2010 the Government replaced old style sick notes with new ‘statements of fitness for work’ known as ‘fit notes’. These do not state that the employee is fit for work, instead they state that the employee is either not fit for work or may be fit for work taking into account details of the following advice. Thus the GP cannot unconditionally sign the employee back to work instead conditionalises the return
For more information contact Nick Arron .