Ever since the pandemic struck in 2020, the nation’s health has taken a battering
– and not just from COVID.
Recent figures reported by the Financial Times show huge numbers of employees are struggling with long-term sickness either caused by long COVID, growing NHS waiting lists or mental health issues. Even healthy workers are having to give up work to care for family members suffering with their own health problems.
With the first ‘normal’ winter upon us, bringing with it an unpleasant sounding ‘twindemic’ of flu and COVID, the number of people off sick is only going to get higher. While some of us try and work through colds and COVID, a bad case of flu (or any other illness, injury or accident for that matter) can floor you leaving you unable to work.
If or when that happens to you, make sure you know your rights. From how many days you can be off without a doctor’s note to understanding sick pay, here’s what you need to know – including a clever shortcut that everyone off sick needs to know about.
Off sick? Where to start
Most employers will have a procedure in place to follow if you’re off sick and unable to work. Known as an absence policy it should be made available to employees (often in a staff handbook) making clear who and how to tell someone when you’re off work due to illness or injury.
Depending on your employer or company, you’ll have to call, email or message your line manager and/or HR contact as early on in the day as you can.
Fit notes – when you’ll need one
According to ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), if you’re off sick for seven days or less (including weekends) you don’t need a note. Employers will have to take your word for why you’re off, without needing to see proof. You’ll also still be paid.
However, if you’re off sick or injured for longer than seven days you’ll need to provide a fit note (sick note). This should be provided as soon after the seventh day as is possible.
Fit notes – how to get one
Most people think that you have to get a medical sick note from your GP but that’s not the case explains ZoomDoc’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenny Livingstone.
‘ZoomDoc enables you to order a medical letter online from your sick bed or sofa – no need to book an appointment with your doctor, saving you time, energy and any added stress so you can get back to full fitness and back to work as soon as possible,’ he says.
Although medical letters are of course available via your NHS practice you’ll have to book an appointment, return to collect it – and you’ll still have to pay for the letter.
‘ZoomDoc’s medical letters are simple to use and no more expensive than if you got it from your GP, without the hassle,’ adds Dr Kenny.
All you need to do is select the ‘work sickness certificate’ option, fill in the details and ‘our doctors will provide you with a same-day certificate, confirming your symptoms and illness.’
It costs £40 and if for any reason they’re unable to provide one, you’ll get a refund.
Off sick – will I get paid?
This depends on your contract and your particular employer, but as a general rule, once you’re off work longer than seven days (including weekends) you may not get paid but instead will be entitled to £99.35 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
This is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks in the same way you normally get your salary paid.
Find out more about statutory sick pay here.
Talk to the doctor
If you’re off sick and not getting better, make sure you talk to your GP or download the ZoomDoc app to get advice from our team of doctors at a time to suit you.