A common situation employers are put in is when an employee is off sick and requests the sick leave to be taken as annual leave. The main reason employees request this is from a financial perspective as generally, holiday pay will equate to more than Statutory Sick Pay or alternatively if the employee is still under the self-cert period they will not yet be entitled to SSP so will not be receiving any form of payment as with most organisations sick leave is unpaid until a sick note has been provided.
The simple response to the employee would be no. Employers are under no obligation to convert sickness absence to annual leave. However, if an employee informs you they have become sick during a period of annual leave they have the right to have this period converted to sickness instead of holiday. Employees still accrue annual leave at the same rate whilst off sick. If an employee is unable to take annual leave within the holiday year due to sickness, employers must allow employees to carry this leave over to the new holiday year.
Many employers will not allow employees to convert their period of sickness to holiday and this is for a number of reasons. It makes it more difficult for employers to track the frequency of absences if periods of sickness have been converted to holiday. At times, allowing an employee to take annual leave when they are off sick can enable the employee to qualify to for bonus’ they would not otherwise have received if they were off sick. Also, the purpose of annual leave is to have a period of rest from work and so employers cannot be certain employees are getting a rest if they are aware the employee is sick due to a request to converting their sickness absence to holiday pay.
Employers can however, schedule a period of annual leave in the future for the employee if the period of sickness is likely to be long term. This can help alleviate the financial strain on an employee whilst off sick and it can also mean an employer is not challenged with fitting in possibly a large quantity of annual leave on an employees’ return to work after a period of sickness.
If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.
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