Trading as Powell Eddison Solicitors 
Trading as Avery Walters Ellis Solicitors 

Sickness, Mental Health & Work Related Stress 

Do you understand the laws around taking time off sick from work due to poor physical or mental health? 
The pay and time off sick from your place of employment should be set out in your contract of employment. There is no absolute entitlement to company sick pay when you are off sick from work, as this will be at your employer’s discretion. 
If you believe you have not received your entitlement or have experienced discrimination over time off sick from work, Powell Eddison employment law solicitors offer a free initial consultation on making a discrimination claim. 
Contact our employment law lawyers by calling our Harrogate law firm on 01423 564551 or our Leeds law firm on 0113 200 7480. We are ready to speak to you confidentially about any potential claims. 
What are my rights to sick pay? 
In most cases, the contract of employment provided by your employer will spell out what your rights are to sick pay and over what period. 
When off sick from work, you could be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”), regardless of what is in your employment contract. This may be on top of any company sick pay if your employer has a sick pay policy. 
The maximum payment of SSP is usually, 28 weeks over a 3-year period. At present, the weekly statutory sick pay amount is £95.85 per week. 
The qualifications for SSP are that you must: 
have 4 or more consecutive days of sickness (including weekends and holidays) where you are incapable of carrying out work; 
notify the absence to your employer within their deadlines (usually set out in your contract) - or within 7 days if they do not have one; 
supply evidence of incapacity, such as a self-certificate or dr’s certificate (aka a “fit note”); 
earn at least £118.00 (pre-tax) per week. 
If you are off work again within 8 weeks of your first absence, legislation rules mean that you do not need to clock up another 3 days before SSP becomes payable on the 4th day. These are known as “linked waiting days”. 
There are a number of excluded employees who are not entitled to receive SSP. These include: 
People employed for a specified period of time that is no more than 3 months (for example christmas temps) 
employees who are pregnant and are sick during the maternity pay period. 
Any contractual payment for a day off sick is to be offset against the SSP due for the same day. 
Work Related Stress & Mental Health 
If you suffer from poor mental health or stress from work, this is generally recognised as a “harmful reaction that people have due to an overload of pressures and demands placed on them at work”. 
Stress caused by work can be caused by any number of things, including: 
Lack of colleague support 
A bad working environment
Employers should be working with employees who experience mental health issues to help rectify any health and wellbeing issues, through taking reasonable steps to prevent sources and manage stress at work. 
Being off with stress is just the same as any other sickness based reason for absence. Employees should still get paid in line with their contracts and SSP. 
Doctors notes vs Self-certification 
Depending on the length of time you are off sick, you may need to get a sick note (also known as a ‘fit note’) from your doctor. 
If you are off sick for 7 days or less 
Employees can ‘self-certify’’ their sick leave, meaning if someone is absent due to sickness for 7 calendar days or less (including weekends), they do not need to provide a fit note from a doctor. 
Employees should still be paid the amount of sick pay that’s in their contract. 
If you are off sick for more than 7 days 
If someone has a period of sickness absence for longer than 7 calendar days (no matter how many days they work each week), then they should get a fit note from their doctor. Doctors are unable to provide a fit note before the 7th day of absence. 
Getting a fit note - If the employee knows they will be off sick for 7+ days, they should try and get a fit note to their employer on the 7th day of sickness absence. 
If there are any delays in getting a sick note for stress or any other medical condition, for free, from their doctor (e.g. getting a doctor’s appointment booked), the employee should contact their employer and explain the reason for the delay. 
What a fit note says - A fit note will confirm whether the employee is either: 
not fit for work 
might be fit for work (they can give details of what level of work they consider the person is able to do) 
They might say the employee is fit for work in general, but not for a specific task. 
The doctor might suggest in the fit note ways the employer can help their employee get back to work. For example a ‘phased’ return to work where they might come back for a limited number of hours or days a week, to start with flexible working or different duties 
Am I entitled to take time off work for hospital, dentist, or other appointments? 
Although there is no specific right to time off for most medical appointments, many employers will allow employees to take time off for these when requested. Some businesses will allow time off for appointments as standard and write this into their employee’s contracts. 
Pregnant employees have a specific statutory right under ss.55 and 56 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to reasonable time off work (with pay) in order to attend antenatal appointments made on the advice of a doctor, midwife or registered nurse. An employee who is a prospective father, or the partner of a pregnant woman, can take unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments. 
Medical or dental emergencies requiring urgent, unforeseen medical or dental attention are likely to fall within the remit of sickness absence, as are cases where the employee is to be admitted to hospital as an inpatient. 
Contact our Employment Law Solicitors 
If you feel you have been unfairly paid or laid of due to a sickness or mental heath issue, our employment solicitors regularly represent clients in discrimination claims locally to our offices. For specialist employment law advice, contact the team of solicitors in our Harrogate or Leeds offices today for a specialist, no-obligation FREE initial-consultation. 
Andrew Parascandolo 
Employment Solicitor 


Phone: 01423 564551 
Email: ap@powell-eddison.co.uk 
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