Employment Law Absence – What Are Your Legal Rights?

I found this article relating to Employment Law which I thought may be of interest. So here it is for you

Copyright (c) 2011 Robert Gray

If you are having to take time off work due to illness you may be wondering about your rights and responsibilities during your time off sick. Are you entitled to be paid – and if so, how much? – and what information are you required to give your employer?

Most workers between the ages of 16 and 65 are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Statutory Sick Pay is the minimum amount you must be paid by your employer whilst you are off sick. Your employer is entitled to reclaim any SSP payments from the government. You are entitled to receive SSP for a period of 28 weeks and if you are still unable to work after this period your SSP will stop but you will be able to claim Incapacity Benefit. SSP starts from the fourth consecutive day of your absence from work due to ill health.

Some employers offer their employees Occupational Sick Pay (OSP) and this will be detailed in your contract of employment. It is often the case that you have to have been working for your employer for a certain period of time, i.e. three months, before you are entitled to Occupational Sick Pay. Usually your employer will pay you OSP equivalent to your full-time pay for a certain period, i.e. 6 months, which will then go down to half-pay for a further specified period. Occupational Sick Pay must never be less than SSP but it is down to the discretion of your employer as to whether or not to use the SSP scheme, bearing in mind, again, that they cannot pay you less than what you would be entitled to under that scheme.


What about your responsibilities to your employer? Your employer may have a particular policy or procedure on sickness absence which will need to be followed. For example, they may require you to notify them by a certain time on the first day of your absence that you are not going to be attending work due to illness. If you are absent for four consecutive days or more you are required by law to complete a SC2 Self Certification form which will provide your employer with details of your illness. After seven days of consecutive absence due to illness your employer is entitled to insist on you obtaining a doctor’s certificate (sometimes referred to as a ‘medical statement’ or ‘fit note’).

Being absent from work due to illness can be a worrying time, especially if you are likely to be absent for a substantial period of time. It would benefit both you and your employer if you can keep in regular contact with them (or if someone can do this on your behalf) to keep them updated on your condition and the likelihood of you returning to work. This will enable your employer to make provision for your job to be done in your absence and will help you to maintain good relations with your employer.

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