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Big change to employee sick rules

How long can you stay off sick before you have to get a doctor’s note? Will you get paid? Are you sure you know the answers?

The answer to the first question was 7 days: you can self-certify that you’ve been ill for that long, before you need to a doctor (GP or hospital) to give you a fit (sick) note to pass to your employer.

It’s been quietly changed to 28 days, without any fanfare or publicity. Which means there are bound to be employers who get tripped up by asking employees to get a doctor’s note, because they don’t know the rules have altered.

What this means: an employee does not need to – and cannot – ask a doctor for a fit note until 28 days have passed. We’re guessing that the aim is to reduce demands on GPs as the Covid pandemic continues.

What about pay?

As a minimum, employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay from the 4th day of any absence, but nothing for the first 3. Anything else depends on what’s in your employment contract – and whether or not your employer will choose to pay you anything above this.

Currently SSP is still £96.35, despite calls to raise this. If anything changes, we will update this.

What should employers do?

Carry on handling sickness absences as you would normally. The only change is that people can self-certify for four weeks instead of one. Follow your normal processes for keeping in touch with people who are off sick and consider ways to help them when they return to work.

And don’t forget that employees still clock up holiday entitlement while they’re away from work, whether they are off sick, on holiday or – if it becomes relevant again – on furlough.


By Brian


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