An Employee's Guide to Sickness Rights
December 20 2019 - Understanding your rights as an employee is one of the most important jobs of any HR department. It allows employees to keep HR departments accountable, and it can also help to ensure that HR departments are as effective as possible.
Knowledge and awareness are at the heart of it all, which is why every employee should be made aware of their sickness rights by law and within their company:
Your Right to Take Sick Leave
You do not need to provide proof to your employer if you need to take a sick day off, but you will need to provide proof if you are gone for longer than seven consecutive days (including weekends and holidays). This proof can be easy to obtain, especially considering the fact that illnesses lasting longer than a week without improvement need to be inspected by a doctor.
The doctor will provide you with a sick note. This note, officially called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report, is the proof that you will need. It will either state you cannot work, or provide an outline for your employer on what they need to change to allow you back to work. You might need to do desk work for a while, for example, or to work inside until you are back to full health if you typically work outdoors.
Your Right to Take Compassionate Leave
You are allowed to take compassionate leave to deal with emergencies in your family. There are special exemptions if the reason for the emergency has to do with a dependent - this can be a child, a spouse, or even your parents if they have become your dependent due to the emergency.
Each employer offers different systems to accommodate for this, so check your contract in advance and work with your employer to adjust your schedule or circumstances to allow you to better care for your loved one.
Your Right to a Safe Working Environment
You have the right to work in a safe environment. You also have a right to shop or visit stores safely without a threat to your safety. In the working place, however, there is added risk due to your proximity and how long you spend in that building.
There are so many dangers that you may not even see. From airborne to waterborne bacteria, to unsafe building materials, to even unsafe building conditions. Your employer must and has a legal obligation to inspect and check the health of their property on a regular basis, especially if they own the building you are all operating out of.
This is particularly important if there are on-site features like showers. Some waterborne bacteria like Legionella can result in a fatal illness if turned into an aerosol (which occurs when the bacteria-ridden water is forced through a showerhead). Legionella risk assessments are essential to ensure this bacterium and any others are free from the water supply.
If your employer does not own the building, then just make sure that they stay on top of the freeholders who do to provide documentation and to test for dangers on a regular basis.
What Are You Paid While You Are Sick?
If you have taken time off for sickness you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, though this isn't always the case. Each employer will provide different benefits in the case of compassionate leave, or if you are sick for long periods of time.