How much attention have you paid to your employment contract?
More specifically, how much attention have you paid to your sick pay entitlement?
Like many people, unless it’s something you particularly needed at the time of employment, you probably just skimmed over that section of your contract.
But what if you have an accident or get ill, and are out of action for a few weeks or even months?
Admittedly that scenario isn’t something any of us want to think about, but when there are bills to pay it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re entitled to.
With almost three quarters of UK adults with children having no financial protection at all, and day-to-day household costs proving the greatest need for financial borrowing, knowing your rights isn’t something to just ‘skim over’.
What is in your employment contract?
It will be one of two things:
- Statutory Sick Pay, or
- Company / Contractual Sick Pay
The low down on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
If your company doesn’t provide its own sick pay policy, you will be entitled to SSP.
This sick pay policy usually begins after 4 days of sickness and can last for up to 28 weeks of sickness. Annual leave continues to be accrued within this sickness period, as it will for a company policy, and can be taken off during the sickness period.
The low down on Company / Contractual Sick Pay
Whilst the exact details of the Company Sick Pay policy is at the discretion of the individual company, ‘standard’ company sick pay entitlement tends to be for 3 or 6 months.
Whatever your specific entitlement is, it should be clearly presented within your contract and definitely shouldn’t be anything less than the state minimum. And of course your company must meet that agreement.
Company sick pay tends to commence after a minimum probation period to ensure you meet the role requirements. This probation period will be clearly stated in your contract.
Thereafter your policy will outline the number of weeks you can be off work whilst receiving full sick pay; the number of weeks you can remain off work on a reduced sick pay allowance; and when your sick pay entitlement will come to an end.
If you’re still unable to return to work after the entitlement has ended, it will be at your company’s discretion whether any form of sick pay shall continue.
If your employer doesn’t provide their own sick pay policy, this should also be clearly stated within your contract but they must still meet their SSP obligations, assuming you’re eligible to receive it.
Providing evidence to your employer
Sickness periods lasting for up to one week can be self-certified. You will need to meet the sickness policy requirement of your company to inform them of your sickness, and usually an idea of the length of time you expect to be off.
For any sickness over 7 days you will need to present a doctors ‘fit note’, without it you will not qualify for any ongoing sick pay – company or state.
What does your sick pay policy cover?
Whether you are suffering from an illness, stress or have had an injury, your employer will determine what the sick pay policy covers.
Claiming sick pay to take care of an ill dependant is at the discretion of your employer. However the statutory sick pay policy does not cover sick dependants.
What happens after SSP?
Once your eligibility to receive SSP has expired, you will have to rely on State Benefits and as you will no doubt have seen, all of the political parties are saying that claimants will have to satisfy certain tests to qualify for Employment Support Allowance and the Work Related Activity Component.
What can you do if you’re unsure of your sick pay policy?
If you are unsure of what you should be entitled to, your company HR department should be able to clarify things for you.