Sickness at work

Being ill or sick and unable to attend work is a common situation and most employers will have a policy or procdeure for reporting absence due to sickness.


For employees who are away sick the most important step is to advise your employer that you will be absent due to sickness and follow whatever procedure the employer has for such a situation.


Certification of sickness

Employers may have different approaches to certification of sickness.  It is important that you comply with the employers requirements as failure to do so might lead to disciplinary action.


Some employers will allow self-certification of illness for a set period.  This will often match the self-certification period for Statutory Sick Pay which is the first 7 days of a period of sickness.


If the period absence due to sickness is more than 7 days your employer will require a certification from your doctor in order to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).  Employers may also require cerification for the management and recording of periods of sickness.


'Fit Notes'

Where an employer requires certification of illness this is done by your doctor who provides a 'fit note'. In a fit note your doctor can say you are unfit for work or that you may be fit for work if you get suitable support from your employer. You will need to present the fit note to your employer to access Statutory Sick Pay after 7 days of absence.


Sample fit note


Sick pay

If you are sick and absent from work your basic entitlement to pay is what is provided for under your contract of employment or what you may qualify for under the Statutory Sick Pay scheme.


As a matter of contract employers may choose to pay employees all or some of their normal wages during a period of sickness.  Where employers do this they may impose conditions on receipt such as a period of service or continuing certification of sickness.  Pay is often for limited periods and may fall after set periods e.g. full pay may be received for 3 months and then half pay for 3 months.


Stautory Sick Pay (SSP)

SSP is part of the overall benefits system but it is paid by employers to those that mee the qualifying conditions.  The conditions are:

  • That you are an employee
  • That you are sick for at least 4 days in a row (including days you do not nornally work)
  • You have average earnings of at least £111 per week from 6 April 2014 

Where you meet these conditions SSP must be paid by your employer for days you would normally work - but only after the first three days of sickness.


SSP is paid at a rate of £17.51 per day or £87.55 per week from 6 April 2014.


SSP lasts for 28 weeks.  After this period your employer must give you an SSP1 form so you can make a claim for Employment and Support allowance to the Benefits Agency.


Management of absence by an employer

Employers will often seek to manage the sickness absence of their employees either by using an absence monitoring procedure or a disciplinary procedure.  The situations are slightly different for short term absence and long-tem absence.  For more information on the management of absence see:


Short term absence due to sickness


Long term absence due to sickness

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