Taking Sick Leave in the United Kingdom

In the UK, employees are entitled to time off when they are too ill to work. Here’s how to properly take sick leave, in accordance with UK employment law.

Understanding Your Right to Sick Leave

Every employee in the UK is entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) if they’re too ill to work. The Gov.UK guide to SSP provides complete information on eligibility and procedures.

What to Do When You Are Sick

  1. Notify Your Employer: Inform your employer as soon as possible, ideally on the first day you’re sick. Check your company’s policy for how to do this, as they may require a specific method of communication.
  2. Obtain a Sick Note: If you’re sick for more than seven days, you’ll need a ‘fit note’ from your GP. For the initial seven days, you can self-certify your sickness using an SC2 form.
  3. Send the Sick Note to Your Employer: Ensure your employer receives the fit note if required. This may be sent directly by the GP or provided by you.

Pay During Sick Leave

For the first four days, you’re typically not paid SSP. From the fifth day onwards, if eligible, you’ll receive SSP for up to 28 weeks. The ACAS website details how SSP is calculated and administered.

Other Considerations

  • Sick Leave and Annual Leave: Sick leave doesn’t count towards your annual leave entitlement. The Citizens Advice guide clarifies how they interact.
  • Long-Term Sickness: After SSP, you may be eligible for additional benefits. The Disability Rights UK website offers guidance on long-term sickness benefits.
  • Dismissal During Sickness: While you can be dismissed during sickness, your employer must follow a fair process. The ACAS guide to dismissal outlines what constitutes a fair process.
  • Sickness During Holiday: If you fall ill while on holiday, you can take it as sick leave instead. This is detailed on Gov.UK’s holiday entitlement page.

Sick Leave for Self-Employed

If you’re self-employed, you won’t be eligible for SSP but may qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Check the Gov.UK ESA page for more information.

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