Can My Employer Make me Take Holiday Instead of Sick Leave?

Q.Can my employer make me take some of my holiday entitlement without my consent to cover a sickness period? (Mrs T. Tonner, 7 October 2021)

calculator and pay slip

A. The simple answer is that your employer can’t make you use holiday allowance for sick days. That said, there are situations where an employer can require you to take particular days as holiday. However, they must provide at least two days notice.


Requirement for Notice from Employer

In most scenarios your employer can’t tell you to take a sick day as a holiday because there won’t have been enough time to give you the required 2 day notice.

That said, if your sickness was something you knew about in advance, for example a hospital procedure, then they can require you to use holiday entitlement.

However, hopefully most employers would allow you to negotiate this with them and have a degree of flexibility in their approach.

However, it’s important to check out what the alternative to using your holiday allowance for a sick day is. Not every employer has a sick pay policy that covers wages in full.


Check Your Sick Pay Entitlement in Your Contract

You should check your contract of employment and see what it says about sick pay entitlements.

It may state how many days off sick you can take with full pay, and some employers offer a second period where they will allow you to be on reduced pay.

Eventually those periods will run out and you and the company will have to get together to decide how to treat your case, but until that happens, you cannot be forced to take holiday instead of sick pay.


Statutory Sick Pay

If there is no sick pay allowance in your contract, there are legal minimums which you must be paid.

This is known as Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). It is not payable until you’ve had 3 consecutive sick days. Once you’ve been off for 3 days you will be paid SSP for your entire period of sickness. You are entitled to claim SSP for up to 28 weeks.

However, SSP is currently £96.35 per week, which may not be enough for many people to live on. You can self certify for up to 7 days of illness. After this, you will require a fit note (sick note) from your doctor.


Consider What’s Best For Your Finances

An employer cannot force you to take holiday instead of sick leave. But it might be a better choice for you, as taking holiday instead may mean that you will be better off financially, unless you have a contract with generous sick pay allowances.


Further Reading

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