Sickness Absence and Documentation

As more light is shone on absence management it is important to ensure that an employee’s sickness records and documentation is up to date and correct.

Furthermore, it is important to know what documentation to expect and the impact this can have on the Company and employee.

What is Statutory Sick Pay?

Statutory Sick Pay or SSP is a payment which an employee receives if they are too sick to work. This is currently paid at £92.05 (2018-2019) per week. To qualify for this payment, the employee must have been off for 4 or more days and this is including non-working days.

The payment is made for a maximum of 28 weeks and it is not paid for the first 3 days of absence.

Eligibility

To qualify for SSP the employee must have been sick for at least 4 days in a row including non-working days, earn an average of £116 per week and advise you before the deadline which is stated in your Employee Handbook or within 7 days.

An employee will not be eligible for SSP if they have received the maximum of 28 weeks or the employee is receiving Statutory Maternity Pay (Please see Family Friendly Entitlements Newsletter October 2018).

Documentation

A Fit Note only needs to be given if they have been off sick for more than 7 days in a row. SSP can be withheld if a Fit Note is not provided coving the term of their sickness.

You may find yourself in a situation when an employee is signed off and is only covered by a GP’s Fit Note but they want to return to work. This is usually because they are receiving SSP instead of their usual wages.

This is a tricky scenario as you as the employer has a duty of care towards the employees to ensure their health and safety whilst at work however you also have to manage an employee who is eager to come back to work. Whilst considering your options its is important to remember that Fit Notes from a medical profession are not to be read as a concrete instruction for you to not let an employee back to work. Fit Notes represent a GP’s advice and are not binding on employers.

Where a Fit Notes states that the employee is ‘not fit for work’ but they still want to return then the employee should be encouraged to return to their GP for a new Fit Note which details certain considerations on their return to work. The current format of the Fit Note allows for a GP to confirm that the employee ‘may be fit for work’ and adjustments need to be made, for example ‘no heavy lifting’, ‘reduced hours’.

Alternatively, a discussion can take place with the employee to look at making short term reasonable adjustments to facilitate their return to work. We would always advise that these conversations are documented.

If you are still doubtful that the employee is ready to return to work even after these discussions have taken place, then a referral to an Occupation Health Assessment may be appropriate to provide you with specific advice on what adjustments need to be made.

Ultimately, your legitimate concerns about the employee’s health and safety may well trump an employee’s desire to return to work however you must take on board the representations made and look to at least facilitate their return.

If an Employee is Not Eligible For SSP

If an employee is not eligible for SSP as they do not meet the criteria detailed, then they may be eligible for a benefit.

In order for your employee to provide evidence that they are not or no longer able to claim SSP you as their employer will need to complete an SSP1 Form and pass this document to the employee, the SSP1 Form can be found here at https://bit.ly/2OMy8S4

For all other information surrounding sickness and absence management please do not hesitate to contact Spectra HR.

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