Q: I am considering updating my employee contracts. In particular I am looking at the process for dealing with sick leave as I feel since the start of covid there are some workers who have been using it as an excuse to ‘increase’ their annual leave entitlement! What should I be aware of to ensure I stay on the right side of the law whilst protecting the interests of the business.
A: As we move back to a ‘new normal’, many employers are reviewing their staff contracts. One thing you might consider is requiring a sick employee to telephone in rather than email or text in to say they will not be attending work, and when they return ask them to complete a self-certification sick note confirming the reason for their absence. Keeping sickness records will enable you to identify any regular patterns that might suggest fraudulent absences.
When it comes to taking disciplinary measures for repeated absences that you suspect may not be genuine, this can be risky. Is the illness related to a long-term disabling condition? Are there mental health issues? Is the illness related to pregnancy? Is work making them ill? You would be wise to seek professional advice before taking any action.
Almost all employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are unable to work because of illness, though employees on very low earnings do not qualify. Whilst SSP sets a minimum level of sick pay, through your employee contracts you can offer a more generous level of contractual sick pay if you wish.
An employment solicitor would be able to review your current employee contracts and advise you on the best way to update them.
This question has been answered by James Denton, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry or for an appointment visit www.ghplegal.com or contact one of our offices: Wrexham 01978 291456, Llangollen 01978 860313, Oswestry 01691 659194