We all get sick sometimes. And when employers take an understanding approach to sick leave, working people are happier, healthier and more productive.

Whether you’re entitled to sick pay from your employer depends on the terms of your contract. Many employers will have a clear written guarantee of sick pay, though it may only kick in after a certain period of service.

Otherwise, you’re almost certainly entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP), although it’s subject to certain rules. In particular, SSP is not paid for the first three days you’re off, unless you have been paid SSP within the last eight weeks and are eligible again.

Usually, you’ll be allowed to ‘self-certify’ as sick for the first few days, but if you’re off work for longer, you may need to produce a ‘fit note’ from your GP. For longer-term illness or injury, you might be asked to undergo a medical exam, or your employer might ask to contact your GP.

Unfortunately, some people feel under pressure to work even while they’re sick, particularly if they lose pay by staying home. This can undermine morale at work, and put co-workers at risk of infection.

If you think you deserve better sick pay, you could get together with co-workers –through your union if you have one – to negotiate a better deal with your employer.

Common
questions
Am I entitled to pay from my employer when I’m on sick leave?
This depends on whether your contract of employment contains a clear express term (normally written down) entitling you to pay during sickness absence.
Am I entitled to pay from the state when I’m absent due to sickness?
Most workers qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if their employer does not offer occupational sick pay
Do I have to attend a medical exam to get sick pay?
Look at your contract of employment to see whether there any specific requirements, such as attending a medical exam, for receiving and continuing to receive sick pay.
Am I allowed time off work to see my doctor?
There's is no general legal requirement for your employer to give you time off for medical appointments. Whatever entitlement you have to time off to visit the doctor will depend on your individual employment contract.