Most victims of heart disease are forced to take time off work to recover, obviously exactly how long varies dependent on the individual condition and from person to person but often it will be months rather than weeks and often followed by a “staggered” or “phased” return to work, starting off with a few hours per day and increasing back up to full time.
This can be one of the biggest concerns to anyone suddenly affected by a heart condition.
So, what do you need to do and what are the rules relating to pay during this period?
Regardless of a company sick pay scheme or not you should contact your company and tell them of your illness first. Don’t delay in telling your employer because they do not have to pay SSP for any days before you tell them.
Whilst they need to know of your illness you do not need to provide evidence for the first seven days of illness. They may however, request that you fill in their own self-certificate or form SC2 which you can get from your GP’s surgery, or from the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website.
If you are sick for more than seven days, your employer can (and usually do) ask you to give them some form of medical evidence to support payment of sick pay.
What many don’t realise is that it is up to your employer to decide whether you are incapable of work and this is why a medical certificate (or Doctors note) is normally requested after the initial seven day self certification period.
A medical certificate is not open ended but will cover a set period of time depending on the individual and the heart condition (maybe 2 weeks or a month for example). It’s normal that several separate doctors notes are required to cover the exact term of your absence from work.
If your employer provides a company sick pay scheme they may have set out how you should tell them that you are sick (eg ring in before a certain time of the day). Usually you will be able to self-certify for a week of illness, beyond that a doctor’s note is normally needed.
If your company does not provide such a scheme then you should be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay in which case you must tell your employer within seven days of the first day that you are sick.
Your employer will organise your payments and pay you in the usual manor – whether this be through a company scheme or SSP.
There are 2 types of sick pay:
If your employer runs their own company sick pay scheme and you are eligible under this scheme then you will be paid what you are due from this. If you are not entitled to anything under a company sick pay scheme then your employer should still pay you Statutory Sick Pay (or SSP) if you are eligible.
Any company sick pay scheme will always be more generous than SSP, no company can legally offer any scheme that pays you less than this legal minimum.
Any Company Sick Pay scheme will offer more than SSP but each scheme will vary from employer to employer. Your employment contract (given to you within the first two months of starting your job) should detail your sick pay entitlements and qualifying criteria in the statement of employment particulars – this document should also include a written statement if your company does not offer any such scheme.
To give you an idea: a typical sick pay scheme starts only after a minimum qualifying period (after a three month probationary period for example). Once qualified you will then receive your normal pay during the period of sick leave but only up to the specified number of weeks after which it is likely you will receive a reduced amount (often half pay) for a further period and up to the maximum number of weeks before which any sick pay becomes unpaid and hence reverts to SSP. Often a company sick pay scheme will become more generous the longer you have been with your employer.
Any company can also offer a discretionary sick pay even if you fail to meet the qualifying criteria of the scheme and hence it is always advisable to speak with the employer or the HR Dept in question in the first instance.
If you’re an employee and not eligible under a company sick pay scheme you should be able to get Statutory Sick Pay which will be paid to you via your employer in the same way that you normally receive your pay and for a maximum period of 28 weeks. Agency worker are eligible too if you meet the qualifying conditions for payment.
You will be eligible for SSP if you have a contract of service with an employer, even if you’ve only just started and still working through a probationary period, provided that:
If you have more than one job you should get SSP from each employer.
The standard rate for SSP is currently £79.15 a week. It is paid in the same way and at the same times as you are normally paid and is subject to tax and National Insurance but if you are solely in receipt of SSP your earning may not be high enough to be affected by either.
If you are still unable to return to work after your company sick pay scheme has ended or after the 28 weeks of eligibility for SSP then other benefits may be available depending on your own circumstances. Your employer should notify you when sick pay is due to end and fill in and issue to you the official SSP1 form which will be used to support a claim for other benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance.
As mentioned, other beneftis are available once your sick pay has come to an end, read more about the options here.
Whilst you might be able to take time off to care for a sick dependant your employer does not have to pay you for this time unless written into your contract. Many companies will offer a dicretionary, short term, compassionate type leave so again, speak to your employer in the first instance.
A new ‘fit note’ was introduced in place of the doctor’s sick note on 6 April 2010. With your employer’s support, the note will help you return to work sooner by providing more information about the effects of your illness or injury. You company may also request that you obtain clearance from the company GP before any return is permitted.
A “phased return to work” is often appropriate after a long lay-off due to a heart condition whereby you start off part time (a few hours per day) and build up to full time over an agreed period of time. Again, talk to your employer when the time is right to consider a return.
Information brought to you by HeartWeb, the UKs national online heart support group.