Can employees take a sick day as holiday?

The short answer, is Yes, it is fine that an employee takes a sick day as holiday. There are benefits to both the employee and the employer, but also some down sides too.

Is it legal to use sick days as holiday?

There is no legal reason that an employee can’t take a sick day as holiday. Obviously, the amount of holiday allowance they have left might stop this from even being possible.

What are the benefits to the employee?

For the employee the benefits are pretty clear:

  • They keep a red flag off of their absence record
  • They may avoid reduced pay if they have used up any sick pay allowance they have

What are the benefits to the employer?

For the employer, there are also benefits. The employee was going to absent anyway, and this way they have less future holiday so will be more productive in the future because they will take less holiday.

What are the risks of allowing sick days to be converted to holiday?

Whether you allow an employee to take a sick day as holiday you should make sure that everyone understands the implications.

By allowing an employee to take a sick day as holiday, it could bypass your trigger points for intervention when it comes to sickness. This means that as an employer, you might not be best managing a recurring absence situation in the best way.

Also, because it isn’t being logged as sickness, return to work interviews might be skipped, resulting in a less clear understanding of the employee’s situation.

The care for the employee’s health and wellbeing must be the top priority. If you want to allow your employees to use up holiday allowance when they are off sick, you should make sure to include exactly how it will work in your absence management policy document.

In SkyHR, we recommend using a custom absence type of “sickness as holiday” and adjusting the holiday allowance each time this absence type is used. This way, the employee doesn’t lose out on potential pay. But, you keep accurate statistics and processes regarding sickness management.

Can employers force a an employee to use holiday if they are off sick?

Thankfully, in this case the short and sweet answer is, No. It is possible for an employer to require an employee to use holiday. But they must give 2 days notice so therefore it is not possible to force an employee to use a sick day as holiday if they do not want to.

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