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What Are The Statutory Sick Pay Guidelines?

Statutory sick pay (‘SSP’) is a universal payment all employers must pay, should their employees be signed off from work due to sickness. Some companies offer contractual sick pay – i.e. full pay for a period however more companies rely on government SSP guidelines.

If SSP applies, then the first question to be asked is – does the employee earn more than the lower earnings limit? The current rate for 2019 – 2020 is £118 per week. If the employee earns less than this then the employee would need to claim sick pay from the job centre. There is a SSP1 form online for the employer to complete. The employer does not pay anything during this period (unless contractual sick pay is available).

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Understanding A Fit Note

What Is A Fit Note?

fit note is a statement of fitness for work. It is given by a GP or hospital doctor stating that the employee is unfit for work or if temporary workplace adjustments are needed. 

A fit note will give details of the illness and recommended dates of how long to remain off work. 

It is important to note that the sick dates are guidance, this does not necessarily mean that the employee needs to wait until the expiry date to return back to work. Medical experts suggest employees should be able to return back to work when they are ready as it may help with their recovery period.

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Tips For Tackling Long-Term Sickness Absence

Dealing appropriately with employees on long-term sickness absence from the outset can help achieve an earlier return to work. Where a return is ultimately not possible, it will reduce the prospect of a dispute escalating. These are our top three tips for tackling long-term sickness absence:

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Our All New 5 Step Guide to Reducing Sickness Absence in the Workplace and Preventing Discrimination Claims

Managing sickness absence is a pivotal part of the successful running of your business. Letting sickness absence get out of control can mean that be business is not as productive, or efficient, as it could be. However, mismanagement of sickness absence can lead to a disability discrimination claim which could cost your business thousands of pounds.

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Samira Cakali Qualifies as a Mental Health First Aider

In August our Samira Cakali qualified as a Mental Health First Aider (‘MHFA’). In this article she discusses the scheme and how having a Mental Health First Aider could vastly improve your business and have a positive impact on the amount of disability claims that land on your desk. 

Why is mental health awareness in the workplace so important?

Mental ill health is the biggest reason for sickness absence and by far the largest cost to employers across the UK. Investing in staff wellbeing saves money in the long run – workplaces that prioritise mental health have more engaged, productive and loyal employees, who are less likely to need time off sick. 

What does the training involve?

MHFA is a two-day training course. The course is based around a five-step action plan for providing first aid to those suffering with their mental health. The course instructor educates the attendees on a variety of areas of mental health, how to spot the early signs of an issue and shows them how to apply the action plan in each case, which includes preserving life and guiding someone to appropriate sources of help. Areas that are covered are those such as: depression; suicide; substance misuse; anxiety; self-harm; eating disorders; personality disorders; and psychosis. 

What do businesses stand to gain from having a mental health first aider?

Both employers and employees stand to gain significantly from organisations having mental health first aiders. Training in MHFA will give employers the confidence to have these conversations, listen to their employees and therefore be able to understand how their employees feel and what support they need. When employees feel supported and able to discuss their concerns, they will feel better-able to continue to attend work and therefore sickness absence levels are likely to reduce. 

Are claims less likely if you are a MHFA?

The Equality Act 2010 (‘the Act’) places an obligation on employers to make reasonable adjustments for employees who are suffering from a disability under the Act. A mental health condition amounts to a disability under the Act if it has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the employee’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities. If an employer fails to make reasonable adjustments, it risks facing a disability discrimination claim. 

A MHFA-trained employer will be better able to have conversations with employees suffering from mental health conditions. This in turn will enable the employer and employee to work together to ascertain what reasonable adjustments can be put into place to assist the employee. If the employee subsequently issues a claim for an alleged failure to make reasonable adjustments, the employer will then stand a far greater chance of being able to defend such a claim. However, if an employee feels supported, they are also less likely to issue a claim in the first place.

Further details about MHFA training can be found at mhfaengland.org

If you need help and advice regarding mental health in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact Samira or the employment team on 01133 50 40 30 or at samira.cakali@scesolicitors.co.uk

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Football’s Coming Home…Managing Your Staff During Euro 2016

The majority of the Country will soon be inundated with football talk as Euro 2016 kicks off on Friday 10 June 2016.  With a full month of games, even those with little or no interest in the sport will find it difficult to avoid the frenzy that with comes with such occasions.  Love it or loathe it, many employers will be faced with difficulties during this period, with an increase in last minute holiday requests, sickness absence or staff asking to finishing early.  Perhaps the most problematic for employers will be staff accessing the internet during working hours to keep an eye on the score.  

Here I take a look at some of the key issues employers may face and offer some guidance on managing your staff during this period.

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Absence Management: Is Your Employee Really Sick?

Let’s be honest here, it’s likely that some of you reading this will know of someone who has ‘pulled a sickie’.  As an employment lawyer, I’ve heard all manner of ‘justifications’; “the weather was nice”, “my holiday was refused”, “I knew they’d say no if I asked for time off at the last minute” …  A recent ruling in the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) gives hope to employers everywhere that they can take action against an employee who has ‘pulled a sickie’.

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Disciplinary process, Adverse Weather Conditions, Employment Law, Leeds, Yorkshire

As we count down to the New Year, let’s remind ourselves of 2015’s key judgments. They include cases on: whistleblowing, working time, annual leave during sickness absence, holiday pay, disability discrimination, redundancy consultations, recruitment, and the role of HR in disciplinary proceedings.

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Sickness absence policies and making reasonable adjustments

The duty to make reasonable adjustments in respect of the disabilities of employees can be a legal minefield for employers. The duty can arise where an employer’s provision, criterion or practice puts a disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage in comparison to those who are not disabled.

Disabled employees are more likely than others to have significant sickness absence. Therefore, the strict application of a sickness policy is likely to place disabled employees at a substantial disadvantage and therefore give rise to the duty to make adjustments.

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Covert Surveillance at Work: Should Big Brother be Watching?

I have had a busy week this week so John Dickens has kindly stepped in and produced this article about the topical issue ‘covert surveillance’ (as some of you may have read about poor Anthea Orchard). 

Most of the time, in a public environment, most of us are aware (or should be aware) that we are being watched; this is now a generally accepted fact of modern life. However being watched in the course of one’s employment can raise a number of cutting issues and cause disagreement as to whether such surveillance infringes too much on the civil liberties of the relevant employees.

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