I’ve paid statutory sick pay (SSP) to an employee who has been absent for two weeks and is still absent. He now wants to take some of the time off as yearly leave. Is it necessary for me to agree to this because I’ve already done payroll, paid him, and printed his payslip?
Employees have the right to request yearly leave, but companies are not obligated to comply. Suppose it happened the other way around, for example. If an employee became ill during an annual leave period and presented a doctor’s note for the period of illness, the time could be classified as “sickness” rather than “vacation.” However, there is no legal requirement that this function is in reverse. You don’t have to agree to him switching his SSP sick leave to yearly leave; it’s up to you to figure out what works best for your company.
>See also: Do I have to pay self-isolating employees?
There are several reasons why some employers refuse to treat illness as a vacation. For starters, it implies that companies cannot appropriately assess the frequency of sick leave. It also contradicts the aim of annual leave, which is for employees to take time off. As a result, employees may be eligible for incentives that they are not entitled to.
It’s vital to remember that your employee will continue to accrue annual leave while on sick leave. This means that if they cannot take it during the leave year (due to illness), you will have to carry it over to the next year. This could have a huge impact on your business, so you’ll need to figure out what’s causing the illness and how long it’ll last.
>See also: Terminating employees who are on long-term sick leave.
However, you should think about whether transferring his sick leave to annual leave will benefit your company. For example, it may be more advantageous for the employee to use up their vacation time rather than being sick and then using vacation time later. If you know the employee has financial difficulties, you may agree to it. So, while you are not obligated to agree, it is worthwhile to assess whether you should say yes.
Bespoke HR’s managing director is Alison King.