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Is your office empty?

New year is the worst time for staff pulling
sickies, warns the Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP).

Research shows that the month of January is the when
the highest number of sickness absences occur. A 2008 survey revealed that 13
of the 20 most popular days for sickness absence occurred in January; six of
these were taken between 2 and 9 January. On 3 and 4 January, nearly 5 percent
of the total UK employee population was absent on sick leave*.

According to the IPP, sick days cause a headache for payroll staff because they
have to cover the salaries of absent employees, pay overtime and provide the
wages for temporary cover. By law, if an employee is unable to work because of
illness, they may be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) but some
organisations offer their own Occupational Sick Pay scheme instead.

Lindsay Melvin, Chief Executive of the IPP, said: “Over recent years it
has been frequently documented that there are more staff absences during
January than in any other month of the year. This can potentially lead to a lot
of extra hours by the payroll department who have to work out each person’s
eligibility. “By law you are only entitled to SSP if you’re sick for at
least four days in a row, (including weekends and bank

holidays), and you must earn no less than £95 a

“Your employer will pay SSP for a maximum of 28 weeks. It is not paid for
specific illness or treatment but to all employees who are incapable of work
and who satisfy the conditions for payment. “If your employer has an
Occupational Sick Pay scheme, speak to your HR and payroll department to make
sure that you understand and follow the rules, which may be different.

“In this type of scheme, your employer provides pay based on your
earnings, whilst you are off sick, on some or all of your normal earnings. Your
entitlement depends on the rules drawn up by your organisation. Occupational
sick pay usually starts after a minimum period of service, for example, after
three months.

“Once you qualify, employers usually provide full pay for a set number of
weeks, followed by a period of half-pay.”

4 January 2010


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