Sickness Absence

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Guidance for union representatives
This guidance seeks to clarify the law on access to
Many union representatives will wish to ensure that those who

Workers should not made ill or injured while at work, however if they are, it is important they are given support to ensure that they make a full and early recovery. A good policy of managing sickness absence can help this. Unfortunately many employers see managing sickness absence as forcing employees back to work as soon as possible, or disciplining those who are off work more regularly than others

People often think that there is a "sicknote culture" in Britain. In fact the opposite is the truth. More people go to work when ill than stay at home when well, and sickness absence rates have been falling steadily over the past 15 years

The TUC believes that being at work, in a rewarding job with a supportive employer, can be good for your health and being off work can make you feel worse. That is why we encourage jointly agreed sickness absence policies that support sick or injured workers. Positive sickness absence policies, developed in partnership with unions can make positive inroads into reducing absenteeism, especially if combined with good preventative measures aimed at stopping workers being made ill through back pain, stress, exposure to chemicals slips and trips etc


TUC guidance for safety representatives on the 'sick note' (PDF)

HSE guide for safety representatives on tackling sickness absence (PDF)

A new report published today (Monday) by the TUC says workers have been experiencing a significant increase in stress, which in some cases has led to mental ill health, as a result of the impact of austerity on their work and home lives. The report is based on a seminar...
30 March 2015
Court backs unions on sickness absence The Department for Transport (DfT) broke employees’ contracts by introducing new, more punitive, sickness absence policies without reaching agreement with unions, the High Court has ruled. Prospect, the FDA and PCS brought breach of contract claims against the DfT on behalf of members in...
13 February 2015
College sick pay plan ‘adds insult to injury’ Six unions representing staff in further education (FE) colleges have rejected a new sick pay scheme drawn up by the Association of College (AoC) employers. A joint statement from the unions notes that “after lengthy deliberation and consultation, there is a consensus...
14 February 2014
Sick slant is first mistake for the work health service A new body which aims to get the long-term sick back to work more quickly in England, Wales and Scotland must have its focus on improving health not reducing sickness costs, the TUC has said. The union body was speaking...
14 February 2014
The proportion of UK companies reporting high rates of staff sickness has fallen to less than half the rate in Germany and France in five years, according to new research. Dr Wen Wang, of the University of Wolverhampton Business School, found that in 2004 around 17 per cent of UK...
06 September 2013
NHS Employers need to seriously consider the consequences of implementing cuts that could put the public at risk, unions have said. GMB, UNISON and Unite members working in England's ambulance services have voted to reject proposals to apply up to 25 per cent deductions to sick pay.
31 August 2013
More than four out of every 10 fit for work tests were of the lowest standard, the government has admitted.
26 July 2013
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) had found workplace sickness absence is at a new record low, but has let itself down by regurgitating ‘sickie' and other myths, the TUC has said.
19 July 2013
The TUC today expressed a note of caution over the CBI's new sickness absence figures released today.
15 July 2013
The US coffee company, Starbucks, which is already under pressure for its tax affairs has now cut the rights to sick pay for its 7,000 UK workers.
07 December 2012