Some ins and outs of sick leave

Fight as you might, everyone gets sick and will need to take sick leave. This has impacts on workloads and pay, so what do you need to know?

First of all, employees can self-certificate for up to 7 consecutive days, after that length of time they should have evidence from a doctor that they were/are sick. This period of time includes any non-working days – for example a weekend. So, in a traditional Monday to Friday job, a person can only self-certificate being ill for one working week. It is good practice for the employer to keep a record of this and even to have the employee fill in a form for the company records. If a fit note is supplied the employer should take a copy, leaving the original with the employee.

Long-term sickness is not nice for anyone. It is officially classed as a period over 4 weeks. This is not a termination of work, the employee should still be paid statutory sick pay where applicable. Every effort should be made to help the employee return to work even in a different capacity to when they went sick if this is possible. Only after this and after consultation about the illness with the employee could dismissal be considered.

An interesting situation is what happens if somebody is sick when on prearrange holiday. The employee can in-fact claim back their holiday and instead class it as sick leave. Normal sick rules would apply along with pay. Of course, the opposite is possible too; when an employee is sick they can ask to take the days from their holiday allowance instead of whatever sick pay they are entitled to. This would normally be to ensure income. An Employer can not force this choice on the employee. As an extra to this, all throughout any sickness period, holiday entitlement is accrued. If any statutory holiday allowance cannot be taken due to sickness it can be carried over to the next year.

All of which means that accurate recording of sick and holiday is vital for a company. 

Keep in mind, that sick leave is just one of many types of leave for employees, and you should manage each type specifically. 

Articles written by and for SkyHR for our blog and other sections of our main website,, by the central SkyHR team

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