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Sick leave

Who is entitled to sick pay?

Generally, if you are employed in the UK you are entitled to statutory sick pay when unable to work due to incapacity. You should tell your employer as soon as possible that you will not able to attend work. Your employer may request a “return to work” interview when you go back to work. You are still entitled to sick leave if you are on holiday. (There are limited circumstances in which you may still be entitled to statutory sick pay if you work abroad.)

Sick pay entitlements

If you earn over £112 per week and are incapable of working for more than four days in a row, you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £88.45 per week from the fourth working day on which you are unable to attend work. This is the minimum legal amount your employer must pay you for up to 28 weeks of sick leave.

After this time, you may be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if your employer stops paying SSP.

You are not entitled to SSP for the first three working days of your sick leave, but you will receive SSP from the fourth day onwards until you return to work. You may also be entitled to other state benefits such as housing benefit.

You may not be entitled to full SSP or contractual sick pay if:

  • you do not report your sick leave as soon as possible;
  • you do not provide medical evidence of your illness from the eighth day of your sick leave;
  • you are on sick leave for long periods of time.

If you have any issues with sick pay or entitlements, speak to your UNISON rep for advice.

Extended or frequent periods of sick leave

If you are on sick leave for four or more periods of four to seven days in a single year, your employer may wish to contact HM Revenue and Customs, who may, in turn, contact Medical Services.

Medical Services may then wish to contact your doctor to confirm that you have been away from work for good reason.

If you are away from work for extended periods of time, your employer has the right to contact Medical Services to independently assess the state of your health.

If Medical Services report that you are fit to work, your employer can stop paying you SSP.

In both of these instances, you have the right to appeal if you are deemed fit for work.

Remember that your employer is not allowed to contact your doctor to confirm the state of your health without first getting permission from you.

Work-related illness

If you are injured or contract an illness while at work, you must record it in the accident book. If you see the doctor about this illness, make sure they are aware that it is work related.

If you believe that the incident affecting you is an ongoing health and safety issue, contact your UNISON safety rep.

Injuries and illnesses at work do not affect your right to take sick leave or be paid sick pay. If you earn over £109 per week, are incapacitated for 4 or more days consecutively you are entitled to statutory Sick Pay of £86.70 per week from the fourth day of absence from work.

  • You should inform your employer as soon as possible of your sick leave.
  • You are entitled to sick pay, even if you are on holiday.
Key facts
  • Generally, if you are employed in the UK you are entitled to statutory sick pay when unable to work due to incapacity.
  • You should tell your employer as soon as possible that you will not able to attend work.
  • Your employer may request a “return to work” interview when you go back to work.
  • You are still entitled to sick leave if you are on holiday.

FAQs

Sick leave

  • My employer is threatening to sack me because of an illness. What should I do?

    Make sure you speak to your UNISON rep as soon as possible. Your rep will explain your options and provide ongoing support.

  • Am I entitled to sick pay?

    Yes, as long as you earn over £112 per week and are incapacitated for work for four or more consecutive days, you are entitled to SSP from the fourth day of absence from work up to a maximum of 28 weeks.

  • Do I need a sick note to take sick leave?

    Initially, no. Your employer can request that you obtain a sick note from the eighth day of your illness.

  • What if I am on sick leave because of mental health issues related to work?

    Mental health problems often result from bullying, harassment or poor working conditions.

    Speak to your UNISON rep who can help resolve issues and explain grievance procedures.

    Be sure to tell your doctor about the cause of your problems.

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