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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Company sick pay rights

Your employment contract may set out what sick pay you are entitled to. This will vary from job to job. Company sick pay cannot offer you less than you are entitled to through Statutory Sick Pay.

Types of sick pay

If you take time off from work due to illness, you might be entitled to sick pay. There are two types of sick pay:

  • company sick pay (also called contractual or occupational sick pay)
  • Statutory Sick Pay

If your employer runs their own sick pay scheme it is a 'company sick pay scheme' and you should be paid what you are due under that. This will depend on what is included in your employment contract.

If you aren't entitled to anything under a company scheme, your employer should still pay you Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you are eligible.

Company sick pay

Your employer may offer a sick pay scheme that is more generous than SSP. Your employer can offer any scheme that does not fall below the legal minimum.

Details of your company sick pay entitlement should be included in your written statement of employment particulars, which you should be given within two months of starting work. If your company doesn't offer a scheme, the written statement should say so.

A typical company sick pay scheme

Company sick pay schemes vary from employer to employer.

A typical sick pay scheme usually starts after a minimum period of service (eg, a three month probationary period). You would then receive your normal pay during any period that you are off work due to illness, up to a specified number of weeks. After this, you are likely to receive half-pay for a further period before any sick leave you take becomes unpaid.

Proof of sickness required by your employer

Your employer may set out how you should tell them that you are sick (eg ring in before a certain time of the day). Usually you will be able to self-certify for a week of illness, beyond that a fit note (doctor's note) is normally needed.

Employer's discretion

Your employer can choose to make an exception and pay you sick pay even if you don't qualify under the company rules. Also, some sick pay schemes say that payments are 'at the employer's discretion', which means your employer can refuse payment if they think the absence is unjustified. However, in doing so they must ensure that their decision is free from discrimination (that is, they are not favouring one category of employee over another when they are required not to).

If your employer has chosen to pay discretionary sick pay in the past this does not automatically mean they have to in the future. However, it is sometimes possible for a discretionary arrangement to become a part of your contract through 'custom and practice'.

Work related sickness

The amount of sick pay you get isn't usually affected by the cause of your sickness. Your employer may have a special scheme in place for workplace injuries - check with them for details.

If your employer is responsible for your incapacity (injury) you may have a legal right to make a personal injury claim. This applies to both a physical or psychological injuries (eg, stress). You should speak to a lawyer or trade union representative if you are considering this.

Time off to care for a sick dependant

You might be able to take time off to care for a sick dependant. However, your employer does not have to pay you for this time unless your contract says they should.

What to do if you have problems

If you are unsure about anything relating to sick pay, talk to your employer first.

If you are having problems getting your sick pay:

  • check your contract to find out how much you should get
  • ask your employer if there's been a problem paying your sick pay
  • find out your rights for Statutory Sick Pay

If you disagree with a decision on company sick pay, try to resolve the problem with your employer. If your employer is refusing to pay you sick pay you are due, this is classed as an 'unlawful deduction from wages'. You might be able to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal.

Where to get help

For more information on where to get help with employment issues visit the employment contacts page or find out more about trade unions.

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