From: Institute of Payroll Professionals
Published: Thu Jan 07 2010

The New Year is the busiest time for workers to pull ‘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 at least an average of £95 a week.

"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."

*Mercer’s UK Sickness Absence Survey 2009
Company: Institute of Payroll Professionals
Contact Name: Jo Victoria
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 020 7600 6278

Visit website »