The charity helped with 1800 problems related to sick pay and sick leave in February 2016.
Unscrupulous employers are using underhanded tactics to avoid paying their employees Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), the Citizens Advice charity has revealed.
Citizens Advice is urging people who need to take time off work because of illness or injury to check if they’re eligible for sick pay, as analysis found the charity helped with 1800 problems related to sick pay and sick leave in February 2016 – up 11% on the average for the rest of the year.
SSP is payable for up to 28 weeks of sick leave and is currently paid at £88.45 per week, although some people may be paid extra in what is known as contractual sick pay.
Employees are eligible for SSP regardless of whether they work part-time or full-time, if you normally earn more than £112 a week and have been sick for more than four days in a row.
People on a fixed term contract, or those who work through an agency or are on a zero-hours contract, are also eligible.
However, Citizens Advice has uncovered evidence showing some employers are trying to exploit confusion around the rules “so they can get away with not paying up”.
Some of the crude tactics being used to avoid paying staff SSP include cancelling people’s shifts after they call in sick, reducing people’s wages and downplaying their working hours, wrongly claiming employees need to present a sick note (now known as ‘fit notes’) after only a few days off work, refusing to fill in a HMRC sick pay form, and even dismissing (sacking) employees rather than paying them.
Citizens Advice cites the example a factory worker who worked 5 days a week, but his casual contract wrongly stated he only worked 7 hours. His employer attempted to avoid paying him sick pay, claiming he did not work enough hours or earn enough.
Another case involved a Carer on a zero-hours contract who turned to Citizens Advice for help after she needed time off for a work-related injury. Citizens Advice says her employer cancelled her shifts for the next 3 weeks and argued she wasn’t due to be working, when in reality she had already been offered the work.