An Economic and Social Research Institute report in 2018 found the health sector had the highest number of days lost due to work-related illness.
As there’s a high level of sickness-related absence in the health sector, the HSE uncertified sick leave policy is an important document for employers and employees working in public service healthcare.
But how should small businesses deal with short-term absences caused by employee illness?
What exactly is uncertified sick leave?
Uncertified sick leave covers a scenario where your employee is absent through illness on a short-term basis (two to three days typically) and doesn’t provide a medical certificate.
Just as an employee handbook governs uncertified sick leave in public service, the first step small businesses should take to manage sick leave is to have a clear policy in place.
A sick leave policy will set out what procedures employees should follow when they’re sick and unavailable for work.
Typically, a sick leave policy will let employees know:
- Who to contact when they’re sick and unavailable for work—generally a supervisor or line manager.
- When to contact their manager. Most employers ask for a half-hour to an hour’s notice before their start time.
- How to make contact, most employers will demand a phone call.
- The circumstances in which the employee must provide a medical.
Paying employees when they’re out sick
Perhaps the most contentious issue around sick leave is pay during sickness-related absences.
When it comes to uncertified sick leave, Ireland’s employment laws do not oblige employers to pay employees who are absent due to illness.
To avoid any misunderstandings, your employment contract should clearly specify what your policy on pay is when employees are unable to attend work due to illness.
Common uncertified sick leave policy terms
Not all businesses can afford to pay absent employees. This is why it’s so important to confirm the rules around sick leave in your contract of employment.
Certain employers allow employees to take uncertified sick leave for short absences without demanding a medical certificate provided the absence is no longer than two to three days.
If an employee’s absence lasts longer than two to three days, you should seek a medical certificate certifying the details of the illness along with an estimate of the expected return to work date.
Each business will have unique requirements. So tailor your sick leave policy should to the needs of your organisation.