Sickness absence and sick pay

Noelle MurphyEditor's message: While qualifying employees are entitled to statutory sick pay at a basic rate, many employers choose to pay occupational sick pay, often at employees' normal rate of pay. With most organisations continually looking at ways to recruit and retain the best employees, a good occupational sick pay scheme can be an important workplace benefit.

Offering sick pay above the statutory minimum has also been shown to increase the chances of employees on long-term sickness absence making a successful return to work, as they will not have to worry about lack of earnings which can contribute to mental ill health, or slow their recovery. They also feel more valued and supported by their employer.

Whatever sick pay scheme you have in place, if your organisation is to remain productive and competitive, it needs to manage its absence rates proactively. While most employees will naturally be off sick at some stage, excessive sickness absence can have a negative impact on productivity, customer-service levels and staff motivation, as well as resulting in increased staffing costs.

Noelle Murphy, senior HR practice editor

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HR and legal information and guidance relating to sickness absence and sick pay.