Resource created in August 2011. Amendents reflecting changes in law or practice will be tracked here.
Sickness and incapacity: toolkit
A toolkit to guide users around PLC Employment materials on sickness at work, including practice notes on managing sickness absence, letters of instruction for obtaining medical reports, and tribunal materials dealing with unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.
Managing sickness at work
Employee sickness and injury raises a number of issues for employers and employees, including the right to sick pay and other benefits, the need for investigations and medical reports, and the impact of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination law. All of the materials below can also be found on the Sickness and incapacity topic page.
Practice notes and checklists
General information on sickness at work
Policies and procedures
Staff handbooks frequently contain policies on various aspects of health and sickness at work. For more policies, see the Policies and procedures topic page.
The following letters are intended to be used by the employer when inviting an employee to discuss absence and when dismissing an employee for ill-health.
Employment contracts: sickness absence and benefits
Terms and conditions relating to incapacity for work must be given to the employee in writing (section 1(4)(d)(ii), Employment Rights Act 1996). In practice, this would include absence reporting, sick pay, self-certification and the delivery of medical certificates as required.
Statutory sick pay only
The following contracts contain clauses where the only sickness benefit is statutory sick pay (SSP):
Contractual sick pay
The following employment contracts include contractual as well as statutory sick pay entitlement:
Medical expenses and permanent health insurance
The following are optional clauses for insertion in an employment contract. The first is a basic clause dealing with benefits such as medical expenses insurance and permanent health insurance.
Below are more detailed alternatives, which are already included in Standard document, Director's service agreement (www.practicallaw.com/0-202-3014).
Advising an employee
Employee facing a capability procedure
This is a general letter of advice concerning procedures for poor performance but includes optional paragraphs dealing with the situation where performance has been affected by ill-health or disability.
Employee already dismissed
This is a general letter of advice about unfair dismissal, which can be tailored to the specific situation.
The following are links to external documents on sick pay and the management of health issues at work.
Statutory sick pay
Employee's statement of sickness (HMRC Form SC2) (www.practicallaw.com/9-519-3800) (employee's sickness self-certificate).
Statement of Fitness for Work (Form Med 3) ("fit note") (www.practicallaw.com/2-521-1553) (sample doctor's note).
Statutory sick pay and employee's claim for benefit (Form SSP1) (www.practicallaw.com/7-518-0361) (form to notify employee they are not (or no longer) eligible for SSP).
Absence management and return to work
There are a number of steps that an employer must take when requesting a medical report on an employee (whether from a general practitioner, a specialist consultant, a company doctor or an occupational health specialist).
This note considers the law on obtaining medical reports, including the impact of the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the use of medical reports in tribunal proceedings:
The following documents are intended to be used by an employer seeking a medical report on an employee. The Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 only covers reports by medical practitioners who are or have been responsible for the employee's care. Therefore, different considerations apply depending on whether the report is to be sought from the employee's doctor or another doctor.
Obtaining a report from the employee's doctor
Obtaining a report from another doctor
The following are links to useful external resources on medical reports and the use of occupational health physicians in managing workplace health issues:
BMA guidance: Access to Medical Reports Act (2009) (www.practicallaw.com/7-203-5099) (British Medical Association).
Employer's guide to engaging an occupational health physician (www.practicallaw.com/4-502-8327) (Faculty of Occupational Medicine).
Health and Work Handbook (www.practicallaw.com/6-502-8331) (Faculty of Occupational Medicine and others).
Employment tribunal materials
The following include sample wording for claim forms (ET1s) and responses (ET3s) in cases involving ill health and/or disability. For further tribunal materials, see the Standard documents tab on the Employment tribunals topic page.