Holidays for Sick Days

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Health Assured team

14 April 2022

There are so many rules on dealing with annual leave and sickness absences.

But what happens when the lines blur and employees want to use sick days for annual leave holidays?

The number of holidays offered per year and the rules on sick days vary between businesses. (Even though there are set laws on annual and sickness leave). But can you go from sick leave to annual leave?

In this guide, we’ll answer key questions like, 'can you use holiday pay for sick leave’? And 'does sick leave count as annual leave’?

We’ll cover these questions from an employer perspective; and outline the legal entitlements you need to provide. 

Do sick days count as holidays? 

Sick days don’t count as holidays. But a sick day can be taken as a holiday if the employee wishes to use it this way.

Employees are legally allowed to take time off work when they’re ill. They don’t need to provide proof (only if they’re off for less than seven days).

So, using holidays for sick days is beneficial for employees. Especially if they don’t have access to sick pay; or have exceeded sick leave allowed per year. They can also avoid facing repercussions of unpaid time off this way.

However, during this period, standard sick leave procedures still apply. 

Do you still get holiday pay when off sick? 

Employees cannot not receive holiday pay and sick pay at the same time. It must be one or the other. (Although, employees can request paid holiday whilst they’re off ill). 

In most cases, employees may receive two types of sick pay:

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is the legal minimum amount all employers must offer. In the current year, this equates to £96.35 per week–up to 28 weeks.

This payment starts from the fourth day of sick leave, unless the employee has already received SSP in the last eight weeks.

Contractual sick pay

Contractual sick pay is offered to 'top up’ the SSP rate.

It’s not a legal requirement for employers. So, the amount and choice to provide it falls entirely on your discretion.

You can even set your own terms, to meet your business needs. For example, an employee may need a set amount of service weeks to qualify.

How much sick leave are employees allowed per year?

There is no legal amount of sick leave days set out in law.

This falls to your own business and decisions. Some businesses might require a higher number, due to laborious or stressful workloads.

Last year, CIPD reported the average absence rate of 5.9 days per year. So, this might be a good benchmark to follow for your own sick leave procedures. 

It’s also worth considering every employee absence on an individual level. Every type of sick leave will be different. And so, you must avoid using sweeping actions to manage them.

If you don’t, you could indirectly action unfair dismissals. And this may result in damaged reputation, decreased retention, and expensive penalties.

Taking annual leave during sick leave

Employees can take annual leave during sick leave if:

  • They can’t work but are physically able to take holiday leave.
  • They’re suffering from a mental health condition (where holiday leave would prove beneficial). 
  • They’re off for a long-term illness and holiday leave will aid recovery.

Holiday leave can really benefit employees on long-term sick leave. But this must be requested by the employee themselves.  

If you approve their request, offer holiday pay instead of sick pay. When the employee returns from annual leave, sick leave can continue if they’re still unable to work. 

Do employees still accrue holidays whilst off sick?

Whilst employees are off sick, they still accrue holidays. Ensure you cover employee sick leave and holiday entitlements in their contracts. That way, employees have access to all relevant information. 

If employees don’t use their accrued holidays because of their absence, they should be able to carry them over.

Here, employees can carry a minimum of four weeks unused holiday. These must be used within 18 months from the date they were carried over.

Get help with holidays and sick days only with Health Assured 

If you’ve got any questions on holidays or sick leave, Health Assured can help. 

Our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offer guidance on short and long-term sick leave. And provide help with handling holiday entitlements and other sickness absence factors.

For guidance on holidays for sick days, contact us today. Or arrange a call back from a workplace wellbeing expert today on 0800 206 2532.

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