Many employers are faced with the issue of staff absences on a regular basis. While it is the duty of employers to grant members of staff the leave to which they are entitled, there are specific regulations that cover payment of employees when they are absent from work.
Sick leave is a legal requirement for members of staff, and when staff are not well it is a necessity. While the majority of staff members can probably be relied upon to take sick leave only when needed, there will always be those who take advantage of the system to take a few extra days off work every year. If you are faced with the question of whether to pay staff for sick days or not, we provide a quick and easy guide to sick leave below.
What is sick leave and when can employees demand proof of illness?
It should be remembered that sick leave is separate from annual leave and is only an employee’s right if he or she is genuinely ill. For this reason, employers are permitted to ask for proof of illness in the following cases:
- If an employee is absent from work for more than 2 consecutive days for reasons of ill health. In other words, from the third day of absence this rule applies.
- If an employee is absent on more than two occasions in an eight week period. This is the so-called eight week rule.
Proof of Illness
In the cases above, the proof of illness should be in the form of a doctor’s certificate or another form of proof from a licensed medical practitioner. The cause of illness and recommended sick leave period should be included, reflecting the medical practitioner’s professional opinion.
Sick days on a Monday or Friday
Employers should note that staff who call in sick on a Monday, Friday or the day before or after a public holiday do not have to provide a medical certificate for that day, unless the sick leave falls into the two categories above.
If you suspect an employee of simply ‘taking an extra day off’, you will unfortunately still have to pay him or her for that day. Members of staff who take frequent sick days will normally fall into the second category above and can then be required to provide a medical certificate.