1. Introduction to Long Term Sickness Employment Rights UK
When you're unable to work due to long term sickness in the UK, it's essential to understand your employment rights and the employment law.
This article will guide you through the various aspects of long term sickness employment rights, including statutory sick pay, company sick pay schemes, disability discrimination, and more.
By the end of this article, you'll have a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities as an employee in the UK.
2. Legal Definition of Long Term Sickness
There's no fixed legal definition for long term sickness, but it's generally considered to be a period of continuous absence from work due to illness or injury lasting four weeks or more. The specific duration and circumstances can vary depending on your employer's policies and the nature of your illness or injury.
3. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a government-mandated form of financial support for employees who are unable to work due to sickness. To be eligible for SSP, you must meet certain criteria, such as being an employee with an employment contract, earning at least £123 per week (before tax), and notifying your employer of your sickness within seven days.
3.2. Duration and Amount
SSP is paid for up to 28 weeks, at a rate of £109.40 per week (as of 2023). However, the amount may be higher if your employer has a company sick pay scheme in place.
4. Company Sick Pay Schemes
Many employers offer their own sick pay schemes, which can provide additional financial support beyond SSP. These schemes may offer higher payment rates and longer payment durations, but the specific terms and conditions will vary depending on your employer's policy.
5. The Right to Time Off Work
If you're unable to work due to long term sickness, you have the right to take time off from work without the fear of losing your job. However, your employer may require you to provide medical evidence to support your absence, such as a doctor's note or fit note.
6. Disability Discrimination and Reasonable Adjustments
6.1. Equality Act 2010
Under the Equality Act 2010, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on their disability. This includes long term sickness related to a disability. If your long term sickness qualifies as a disability under the Act, you have additional rights and protections.
6.2. Reasonable Adjustments
Employers are required to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities to ensure they have equal access to work opportunities. This may include modifying your work environment, providing assistive technology, or adjusting your working hours.
7. Managing Long Term Sickness Absence
7.1. Regular Contact and Support
While you're on long term sickness absence, it's important to maintain regular contact with your employer. This helps both parties understand the progress of your recovery and plan for your eventual return to work. Your employer should also offer support, such as access to occupational health services or arranging for workplace adjustments.
7.2. Medical Assessments
Your employer may request a medical assessment to better understand your health condition and determine if any workplace adjustments are necessary. This assessment may be conducted by your own doctor or an independent medical professional.
7.3. Occupational Health Services
Occupational health services can play a crucial role in managing long term sickness absence. These professionals can assess your health, provide guidance on workplace adjustments, and support your return to work.
8. Capability Procedures and Dismissal
In some cases, long term sickness absence may lead to capability procedures, which assess your ability to perform your job. If it's determined that you're unable to return to work or carry out your duties, your employer may consider dismissal on the grounds of capability. However, this should only be done after exploring all reasonable adjustments and considering alternative roles within the organization.
9. Grievance Procedures
If you feel your rights have been violated during your long term sickness absence or upon your return to work, you may file a grievance with your employer. This process allows you to formally raise concerns and seek resolution.
10. Returning to Work After Long Term Sickness
10.1. Phased Return
A phased return to work is a gradual, structured process that allows you to ease back into your job after a long term sickness absence. This may involve reduced hours, modified duties, or additional support from your employer.
10.2. Flexible Working Hours
Flexible working hours can help accommodate your health needs as you return to work. This may involve adjusting your start and end times, working from home, or compressing your workweek.
Long term sickness employment rights in the UK provide employees with various protections and support, including financial assistance, time off work, and reasonable adjustments. By understanding your rights and working closely with your employer, you can successfully navigate long term sickness absence and return to work when you're ready.
1. What is the legal definition of long term sickness in the UK?
There's no fixed legal definition for long term sickness, but it's generally considered to be a period of continuous absence from work due to illness or injury lasting four weeks or more.
2. How long does Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) last?
SSP is paid for up to 28 weeks, at a rate of £109.40 per week (as of 2023).
3. What are reasonable adjustments in the context of long term sickness absence?
Reasonable adjustments are modifications made by an employer to ensure employees with disabilities have equal access to work opportunities. These may include modifying the work environment, providing assistive technology, or adjusting working hours.
4. Can I be dismissed due to long term sickness absence?
Dismissal on the grounds of capability may be considered if you're unable to return to work or perform your duties, but only after exploring all reasonable adjustments and considering alternative roles within the organization.