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Blog  »  May 2017  »  Managing employees sick leave - Blog
May 17

Posted by
Lauren Conway

Managing employees sick leave

This week, 8th - 15th May, is Mental Health Week and with 47% of employees on short-term sick leave due to stress and 34% of employees on short-term sick leave due to mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, we take a look at what you should include in your company’s sick leave policies and procedures.

  •  Sick pay

An employee will only qualify for the statutory sick pay (SSP) of £89.35 per week if they are absent from work for 4 or more consecutive days (including non-working days) and this must be paid by the employer for up to 28 weeks. If an employer wishes to pay an employee more than the SSP for sick leave or if they would like to pay employees for the 4 days before their SSP kicks in they must include this in writing in their sick leave policy.

  • Who to contact

Every industry and business will have different requirements as to how much notice an employee is required to give when sick. Details of this should be recorded in the employee’s contract and staff handbook to ensure they are aware of your sick leave policy. The policy should also include: who to contact, how much notice they must give and what method of contact is acceptable (e.g. a message on social media or a phone call from their parents would not be sufficient.)

  • Record and monitor sick leave

It is important for employers to record and monitor all employee sick leave as it will enable them to identify trends and recognise points at which absence levels need to be investigated further. All records of employee sick leave will need to be kept, to keep your business compliant and for evidence of correct SSP reporting.

  • Getting a second opinion

If you have an employee on sick leave, with their consent, you may ask for a medical report from their doctor to obtain information in regards to the employee’s fitness to work and their expected return to work date. You may also seek a medical report from your own occupational health advisor to get a second opinion, although under the Data Protection Act 1998, you will also need to obtain the employee’s express consent for doing so. To assist you in obtaining this consent from the employee, be sure to include it in your sick leave policy.

  • What is a return to work interview?

A return to work interview is usually a brief and informal meeting between a line manager and an employee on the first day the employee returns to work, to check in with the employee as to how they are feeling and fill them in on business in their absence. Return to work interviews are consistently rated as one of the most effective methods of managing absenteeism levels and it is recommended that they should be included in all sickness absence policies.

With the average employee in the UK missing 6.3 days of work a year due to sickness, sick leave is an important issue that every employer will face at some point. Over the next two weeks we will focus on how employers can manage sick leave in the lead up to our online webinar: “Sickness Absence: All you need to know about SSP and managing Sick Leave effectively” on Thursday 25th May 11 am. To register click here.

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