There is no definitive answer to this question, as it all depends on whether your employer offers a better sick leave scheme than the SSP. However, if the standard SSP covers you, you will have basic coverage that ensures the minimum rights most are entitled to.
While there is no maximum limit to how many sick days you can take in the UK, there are rules regarding the SSP. Through the SSP, workers have coverage for 28 weeks during three years. This does not include the first four consecutive days, where you are incapable of carrying on with your work, as this period is what qualifies you for the SSP, to begin with. If a worker tests positive for coronavirus or self-isolates, the SSP will kick in from day one of sick leave.
As an employer, once you start paying for sick leave, you must continue to pay for it through the 28 weeks of absence or until the worker comes back to work after a full recovery.
Extended or frequent periods of sick leave
If a worker is sick four or more times of four to seven days in a single year, your employer is allowed to reach out to the HM Revenue and Customs’ Medical Services. HMRC’s Medical Services may then reach out to your doctor or physician to get a full confirmation that your sick leave reasons are valid.
If you experience long term sick leave, your employer is also entitled to contact HMRC’s Medical Services to conduct an independent assessment of your health. If you are fit to work, your employer can cancel any further sick leave payments. It is then your right to appeal that decision.
It is important to note that an employer does not have permission to contact a doctor and get insights into someone’s state of health without getting approval from the worker first.
Can your employer claim sick leave compensation?
In general, an employer cannot reclaim SSP if a worker is off sick in the UK.
Source: UK Government
Sick leave and holiday
According to the UK Government, statutory holiday entitlement will accrue when a worker is off work due to short or long term sickness. Any entitlement that has been left unused due to sickness transfers into the coming leave year.Should a sickness appear during or before a holiday, those days off can be rewritten as sick leave instead. If a worker does not qualify for sick pay, they can ask to take a paid holiday instead during their time off. All rules regarding sick leave will still apply. However, employers cannot force workers to register for annual leave if they can apply for sick leave instead
Want to learn more about sick leave? Read more here.