Weekly dilemma: Sick pay

An employee competed in the London Marathon. She was running for charity in fancy dress and tripped on part of her costume, resulting in a sprained ankle. As a result, she failed to turn up for work the following day. What is the legal position regarding sick leave and sick pay in these circumstances?

With an increasing number of people participating in charitable fun runs and other types of voluntary work each year, employers need to strike a balance between encouraging staff to participate in these activities, while at the same time ensuring that attendance, productivity and morale are not adversely affected.

Best practice is for employers to adopt a workplace policy covering employees’ participation in sporting and charitable activities. For example, you might want to consider encouraging those members of staff who participate in marathons or other sporting events to take the day off after the event as part of their annual holiday entitlement.

Where the event is for charity, you might consider allowing members of staff who are participating to take the following day off as unpaid leave or as an additional paid holiday.

Some employers offer all staff a certain number of paid days off each year to enable them to participate in pro-bono or charitable activities. Whatever the policy, it should be applied consistently among all staff.

Sometimes entitlements to sick leave and pay are made subject to an employee complying with certain sickness notification procedures.

An employee will be required to notify their manager of their absence and its likely duration as early as possible. If they are off work for several days, they will probably be required to produce a doctor’s certificate. If the employee fails to follow the employer’s sickness absence procedure, you may take disciplinary action.

Karen Black, partner, head of employment, Boodle Hatfield

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