Sick after seven days

An employee is on the second week of being sick, but no Dr’s note has been provided. What can we do?

Employees can self-certificate themselves as sick up to seven days. However, if an employee is sick beyond seven days (including non working days), you as an employer can request a fit note (often known as a sick note) from a doctor.

If the note states the employee “may be able to work” you will need to discuss with the employee any possible adjustments in the workplace to enable them to return. However, you must be mindful of health and safety. If it is not possible to have the employee return with reasonable adjustments or they may cause a health and safety hazard then you can insist on a full recovery before the employee returns. Be particularly aware of this if the employee has a role within the workshop.

However, if the employee does not provide a sick note, it will be deemed as unauthorised absence and you may be entitled to withhold contractual pay (if applicable, but you must ensure to check the employment contract!) or statutory sick pay (SSP).

You are entitled to receive reasonable information to determine if the employee is entitled to SSP. If the employee provides a good reason for not providing a note then you can pay, but if you are not satisfied that the employee is ill and no evidence has been provided, payment can be withheld.

You should write to the employee, include the absence policy if applicable and confirming sick pay will be withheld if no note/evidence is received. Confirm the absence will be deemed as unauthorised and the employee may be subject to disciplinary action. Should the employee respond with evidence, any pay should be back dated and paid.

If the employee is off work for more than a 4 week period this will be deemed as long-term sick however their contractual benefits and annual leave will still accrue. Dismissing employees whom are on long-term sick should be deemed as a last resort. First you should consider any adjustments whether these are short term or long term. This could be a change of hours or a different job role. Consultation with the employee and health professionals should also be taken.

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Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 14 Nov 2018


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