Our research at CV-Library revealed that the average employee (66.4%) only takes between one to two sick days a year—but do you know if and how you’re getting paid for it?
You need to be aware of your rights to sick pay. Therefore, in this article we’ll discuss everything from how to call in sick, the types of sick pay you could be entitled to, and what to do when you’ve been hit with more than a cold.
How to call in sick
Our research tells us that a hefty 68.3% of you feel pretty guilty about calling in sick, and over two-thirds still go into work when you’re feeling like death warmed up. But when you really must take a day to recover, how do you go about calling in sick?
Firstly, you’ll want to call in as soon as possible. There’s probably a deadline for when you need to notify work of your absence, too. When you call, ask to speak to your HR manager or line manager. There’s no need to detail all the specifics of your illness; just keep them in the know regarding your progress and when you expect to return.
Oh, and make sure it’s you that makes the phone call if possible. Our research also revealed that 16.7% of 18-34-year-olds have had their parents call in sick to work on their behalf. This is an absolute no go unless it’s impossible for you to call due to the nature of your illness.
Defining sick leave
On your return, your employer is likely to ask you to fill in a self-certification form. This is just to establish how long you were off for and how they can help you return—for example, you might need to work shorter days until you’ve fully recovered.
You’ll need to provide a doctor’s fit note as proof of your illness if you’ve been off work for seven days or more (including non-working days). Make sure you take a photocopy of this fit note for your own files, too.
If you need to get a fit note, just contact your GP or hospital doctor. You should ask for the note on your seventh day of illness, otherwise you may be charged.
There are two outcomes of this fit note: your doctor will either declare you as ‘may be fit for work’ or ‘not fit for work’. Don’t let your manager pressure you into returning if a medical professional has declared otherwise. If you’re having issues with this, contact HR immediately.
What is Statutory Sick Pay?
You’re probably wondering if you’ll be paid while you’re off sick.
Firstly, there are two types of sick pay: Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which employers are legally required to pay qualifying staff, and Occupational Sick Pay (OSP) which is an employer’s own sick pay scheme, usually more generous than SSP. Not all employers offer OSP, though.
SSP is not payable for the first three qualifying days of your absence, i.e. the first three days you’re normally expected to work under your contract of employment. SSP is paid to you in the same way as your wages: on your normal payday with tax and National Insurance deducted.
Bear in mind that if you’re in work for one minute or more, that day will not count as a sick day.
How much SSP will you be paid?
The good news is you can’t get less that the statutory amount when you’re off with illness. The current rate (March 2017) is £88.45 a week, for up to 28 weeks in any one period of sickness, or linked periods.
Obviously, you’ll only be paid on the days you usually work (qualifying days) and you won’t be paid for the first three days of illness (waiting days). For part-time workers, the same wage applies, but will be calculated pro rata.
Find out how much SSP you’ll be paid with this calculator.
Do you qualify for SSP?
In order to be eligible for SSP you need to fulfil the following criteria:
- You must have an employment contract.
- You must have completed some work under your contract.
- You must have been sick for four or more days in a row—this includes non-working days.
- You must earn at least £112 a week.
- You must give your employer the correct notice of your sickness.
- You must supply proof of your illness after seven days off—through a fit note or self-certification form.
To claim SSP, tell your employer in writing even if they don’t require it—that way you have something concrete to go on your official record. Make sure you submit your claim request by your employer’s deadline—this is usually within the first seven days of illness. You will need your fit note if you’re off for seven days or more, too.
If your employer rejects your SSP claim, you believe their decision is wrong, or you’re not receiving the correct amount, ensure you ask for a reason for this decision. If you are still unhappy with the outcome and believe they have made an unfair decision, you should contact the HM Revenue and Customs employees’ enquiry line
If you’re off for a lengthy period of time, you are entitled to accrue statutory minimum annual leave entitlement. You can also take annual leave while on sick leave, so you’ll receive holiday pay rather than SSP.
If you find yourself falling ill on holiday, you can take it as sick leave instead—although you will need to check with your employer if they will refund your annual leave.
Occupational Sick Pay
OSP is also known as Company Sick Pay or Practice Sick Pay, and it’s up to your employer whether they offer this to staff.
It’s usually a larger sum than SSP, but unfortunately only half (55.9%) of companies today offer it. We advise you check your staff handbook or ask your HR manager to see if your employer offers OSP.
Fingers crossed you feel pretty confident about your rights to sick pay, now. For more information, check out the sources below.