It is a requirement to pay employees a minimum rate of pay when they are off sick, provided they meet certain qualifying conditions. Statutory Sick Pay can be a complicated business and the introduction of the ‘phased return’ from sickness absence can make it even more difficult.
Period of incapacity for work
- In order to receive SSP, an employee must be sick for at least 4 days, called a ‘period of incapacity for work’ (PIW), and these can include non-working days.
Phased Return To Work
The overhaul of doctor’s medical certificates (otherwise known as ‘sick notes’) resulted in a new name (‘fit notes’) and a new method for their use. Sick notes simply stated that an employee was not fit for work until a stipulated date. Fit notes allow doctors to include more options than this: they may now recommend that an employee may be fit for work if certain changes are made to the work, including:
- A phased return to work e.g. fewer hours or days per week than normal; or
- The employee undertakes light duties.
Effect of Phased Return To Work on SSP
If the employer agrees that the employee can do a phased return to work on fewer days, for example, 2 days out of 5, then the other 3 days will be classed as sickness absence. Normal SSP rules will apply and so in order for SSP to be paid, a PIW (4 consecutive days of sickness) must be formed.
However, the arrangement of the working days will affect the formation of a PIW. If Monday and Thursday are working days, there will never be sufficient days in between to form a PIW, and so no SSP will be due on the sick days in between. If Thursday and Friday are working days, a PIW will be formed in between and the linking rules mean that the 3 required waiting days will already have been served and so sick days in between will attract SSP.