Every employer would ideally like a full workforce each day so that optimum performance can be attained, but, every employer also knows that that does not always happen. The concept of ‘presenteeism’ – where an employee is clearly ill and should not be in work but turns up anyway – can create problems for managers in terms of below par performance and the risk of spreading germs around colleagues.

It may be better, if this happens, for the employer to send the employee home, even if the employee wishes to stay. It’ll probably be better in the long run because the employee’s recovery will be speedier if they get time to recuperate properly; and they won’t run the risk of passing on their illness to everyone else.

In this situation, and in the situation where an employee is fit and well when they arrive at work but then suddenly becomes sick, it is for employers to decide how the day will be counted in terms of sickness absence. It is best, therefore, to have a policy in place in the company that clarifies the employer’s position. It may be, for example, that an employee sent home within 2 hours of the start of the day will be classed as being on sick leave for the full day, or it might be that an employer will count that as only half a day.

There are no statutory rules in this regard but it is extremely important that the rules, whatever they are, are made known to the employee in their employee handbook, or in some other form of written document that the employee has access to. It is also very important that the rules are applied consistently in each situation in accordance with the policy because there is no point in having rules, therefore creating expectations amongst employees, and then not putting them into practice. Entitlement to contractual sick pay will also usually be determined by which days the employer classes as sick days.

If there is no general policy in place and the treatment of this time is at a manager’s discretion it is still important not to base any decision that may infer an act of discrimination against any employee.

For the purposes of paying statutory sick pay (SSP), where an employee has come into work but not performed any work, then that day will count as a day of incapacity. Where the employee has performed some work, even just an hour and then goes home, the day cannot count as a day of incapacity.

For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on
0844 892 2772.