Statutory sick leave: how to support employees and remain compliant

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DSE Assessment

Statutory sick leave: how to support employees and remain compliant

Most employees will call in sick at some point during their working lives. But if you have employees with long-standing health conditions, it’s important to know how to manage their statutory sick leave and return to work. It’s vital to read up on statutory sick leave legal requirements and how they impact your business.

In this guide, Workhappy will break down the main issues and explore how to manage statutory sick pay and an employee's return to work. 

What is statutory sick leave?

If an employee is ill, they can take time off work — sick leave. Most employers accept self-certification for periods of illness up to seven days. However, if an employee calls in sick for more than a week, they’ll need to provide one of the following:

  • A fit note from a doctor or other healthcare professional. 
  • An AHP Health and Work Report from a therapist.
  • An isolation note if they have Covid-19. 

Statutory sick leave shouldn't be confused with annual leave. For example, if someone is sick before or during holiday leave, they can claim sick leave and continue to accrue annual leave while they're off work through illness. In addition, you can't force an employee to take annual leave if they're entitled to statutory sick leave.

Statutory sick leave and pay: what are the regulations?

According to Government guidelines, if an employee has been ill for a minimum of four consecutive days and earns an average of at least £123 a week, they're entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP). 

As an employer, you'll pay a minimum of £99.35 a week for up to 28 weeks while they’re off. You'll start paying statutory sick pay once an employee has been ill for four days in a row.

Statutory sick leave starts from the first full day of absence. So, for example, if a staff member does their job for as little as a minute before going home sick, their sick pay entitlement will start the following day.

An employee's entitlement to statutory sick pay ends when they either return to work or no longer qualify for payments. This might be because they’ve received SSP for the maximum period of 28 weeks or:

  • They are receiving statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance, or their illness is related to their pregnancy in the four weeks before giving birth
  • They've received employment and support allowance within 12 weeks of returning to work
  • The employee works outside the EU and isn't liable for national insurance (NI) contributions
  • They were on strike or in custody on the first day of their illness
  • They have linked periods of sickness that last more than three years

Regular periods of sickness are counted as linked when they last four or more days at a time and are eight weeks or less apart.

As an employer, you must submit a form SSP1 when statutory sick leave ends or an employee is no longer eligible for sick pay. You'll also need to submit SSP1 if you know the employee will be off sick for more than 28 weeks.

How can employers reduce the risk of work-related illness and injury?

According to the HSE, around 1.8 million employees suffered work-related illness in 2021/22. Work-related stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression accounted for over half of the reported cases, while musculoskeletal issues and upper limb disorders are another common cause of workplace injuries. Did you know that work-related injury and illness costs the economy an estimated £18 billion annually? It also significantly impacts employees’ wellbeing, productivity and performance. 

To reduce the impact of illness and injury on your business, you need to take steps to minimise workplace risks…

Analyse your business

First, evaluate the workplace from top to bottom, especially when it comes to employees working with display screen equipment (DSE). It’s essential to schedule DSE assessments for all employees who work with laptops or other display screen equipment. Workstation risk assessments should be undertaken every time new equipment is added, or a new workstation is set up.

Mitigate hazards

Remember: identifying the causes of work-related injury and illness isn’t enough. You need to take action to reduce the risks you’ve identified by reviewing your safety standards and undertaking ergonomic assessments.

Implement training

A little knowledge goes a long way, so workplace health and safety training is invaluable. Embed this training in your onboarding process and offer regular refresher courses. These could include first aid and DSE assessor training

Incorporate wellbeing into your workplace health and safety plan

Health and safety isn’t just about avoiding physical injury. It’s important to take a holistic approach and focus on wellbeing, too. There are plenty of ways to do this — from mindfulness and nutrition workshops to desk massage days.

Review and improve

Reducing the risk of workplace illness and injury is an ongoing process. So establish transparent reporting processes and regularly review your workstation risk assessments.  

How to support employees returning to work and remain compliant

So, how do you help your employee settle back in safely when they return to work? Managing the return to work should be handled following UK health and safety laws and legislation, including the Employment Rights Act and Equality Act.

HSE recommends that employers:

  • Maintain a dialogue with employees while they’re off sick, focusing on their safety, wellbeing and return to work
  • Review health and safety DSE risk assessments — will returning to work make the employee more vulnerable?
  • Consider making adaptations in the workplace, including adjusting working hours and tasks and adapting DSE equipment
  • Take advice from relevant healthcare professionals

Computers dominate the modern workplace, with around 60% of UK employees using display screen equipment (DSE) during their working day. As part of the return to work, it's good practice to arrange ergonomic assessments for employees who regularly use DSE as part of their daily tasks. An assessment can help you make reasonable adjustments for an employee's health.

An advanced workstation assessment ensures you remain compliant with UK DSE laws and fulfil your responsibilities as team members return to work.

Remember that if you have an international team, you will also need to make sure that you are compliant with the regulations set out overseas.

Workhappy: support from DSE experts

Statutory sick leave can take its toll on employees and cause concern for employers. By following Government guidelines and focusing on each team member’s needs, you can support your employees both while they’re off and returning to the office. DSE assessments are a crucial part of maintaining optimum workplace health and safety. 

If you’re unsure which DSE assessment your employees need or where to start, the Workhappy team can help. As the UK's number 1 DSE assessment provider, we can offer everything from virtual workstation assessments for quick compliance to in-depth ergonomic assessments to manage the return to work. Feel free to get in touch to learn more and to book your team’s workstation assessments.