Are you eligible for UK Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a payment that an employer is required to make if you, as their employee, are away from work due to illness. It is an underlying regulation that is often superseded by employers’ own sick pay schemes and is enforced by law.

The first thing to do if you are sick is to check your employment contract. Many employers require that sick employees telephone by a certain time to announce their illness and all have a period of self-certification (usually seven days), during which a medical certificate is not required. It is very important to avoid breaching contract.

After the period of self-certification (again dependant on your contract), you will need to see your doctor and obtain a medical certificate. This will either give a certain period of time for recovery or a specific date to return to work. Throughout the period of illness, every day must be covered by a certificate – this is essential. Your employer will want the original for their files, so it’s worth taking a copy.

To be eligible for SSP, three conditions must be met: period of employment, amount of pay and period of sickness. These rules apply for permanent or agency employees (although the latter had different rules before the end of October 2008).

Firstly, you must have been employed by the same company for the eight weeks prior to your claim for sick pay. If the period of employment is shorter than this, it is up to the employer to decide if they wish to pay or not.

Secondly, you must have been earning enough money to make National Insurance contributions. In real terms, this works out to about 90 per week (gross). If your earnings are below this level, the employer is not obliged to pay.

Thirdly, you must have been sick for at least four days (weekends and bank holidays included) before you can claim SSP – that is, one day after the standard period of self-certification.

If all three conditions are met, your employer must pay you at least the basic amount of SSP. At present, this is £75.40 per week (assuming you work full-time). Of course, if the company has their own sickness scheme, you may receive more. You should also bear in mind that you can’t claim SSP at the same time as Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance.

Two closing comments are also worthwhile. If you are not eligible or do not receive the full SSP amount (or even if you do, but have a partner who isn’t working), you can usually get government benefits, so contact your local JobCentre Plus; and if you are sick for more than three months, after which it is unlikely your employer will continue payments (and you may even lose your job, dependant on circumstances), you will be eligible for benefits at a higher rate – the period of sickness is considered to have started at the beginning of SSP payments.

Full details of SSP (including what you should do if you should be receiving it and aren’t) can be found on the DirectGov site.

Contact Hadaway & Hadaway for advice and help regarding employment law:
http://www.hadaway.co.uk/employment

employment law

Things to consider regarding employment Tribunals for employers.

Q: What is stressful, time consuming and expensive?
A: An Employment Tribunal hearing.
You may be wondering about my out of the blue answer, and justly so. I am convinced that an Employment Tribunal Hearing can be one of the more stressful situations you can come across, and this isn’t some passing observation. I was actually a witness in such a hearing, and I got to know the ins and outs of the whole process. You are probably not familiar with an Employment Tribunal Hearing (Although anyone can see them), and that’s why I am here to break down the process for you.

Background
My involvement with the case didn’t start with me being a witness. In fact I was the lead investigating officer on a case of gross misconduct against one of my client’s employees. In fact, I was knee deep in related documents and was interviewing witnesses at that time to actually check whether there was a case to be made. I found the evidence quite compelling (Though not decisive), and informed my client, and they had a disciplinary hearing which resulted in the employee being summarily dismissed. The decision continued to be upheld in an appeal, which resulted in the employee contacting the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service  for early conciliation.

The employee’s demands were not agreed upon by my client’s company, and all negotiations fell apart, leading to an Unfair Dismissal case that had its first hearing in early 2015. Due to me being an investigating officer in the case, I was asked to appear as a witness.

Document Mountain
In the months before the hearing, the company’s lawyers dropped off a surprise: Two huge bundles of documents that I had to familiarize myself with, since they were to be presented to the judge. I had my work cut out for me. In addition to working through this pile of documents, I had to work on my witness statement, which had to favor the company while being the truth (I actually had to swear a legal oath involving the lines ‘the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’, so you can imagine how serious the whole thing was.)

Indeed, these two tasks alone took two whole days, and we hadn’t even entered the meat of the proceedings: The Court.

In Court
On the day of the hearing, I set out early in order to reach the Court in time. Tribunal Hearings, contrary to what the name might suggest, actually involve a proper court with a qualified Judge and due process being followed. Very rarely are three-person panels appointed, and for cases like ours, a lone judge presides over us.

What surprised me was that the building where it was all supposed to go down was nothing remarkable. I was running around in circles looking for it, and then I realized I had been driving around the building itself. Outside, there was a small queue of people and some even had small suitcases. The whole thing could pass off as a scene at some holiday destination if it were not for their formal suits. We were allowed through at 9AM, instructed to wear identification badges at all times.

I waited along with the company’s other witnesses and the lawyers, in order to revise what he had to do. Witnesses of the Defendant and the Claimant would come first and second respectively, with all witnesses requiring to sign the witness statement on the witness table in front of the judge. Then, the witnesses had to truthfully answer questions posed by the Claimant’s attorneys.

My biggest mistake was assuming that my job would be done before the end of the day, and that’ll be that. It went on a lot longer and was a lot tougher than I ever imagined.

The Grilling
We all watched occasional Courtroom Dramas on Television, and going by them, we would expect lawyers to be  eyeballing and intimidating you every step of the way. While the actual behavior wasn’t like that, the intimidation was there, whether intended or not. It was induced by the calm yet endless stream of questions from the Claimant that was downright unnerving and exhausting. It wouldn’t end there. If we hadn’t done a fine job up on the stand, the defendant’s lawyers would come in to ask questions to save the day.

The process was so time-consuming that it took a whole day to get to the first witness, which was a stark difference from the minutes  I gave to each witness

The next day came with my turn on the witness stand. The Claimant’s representatives’ sole purpose was to make the other side look bad. Any evidence be brought up had to be undermined from their perspective, and so the job called for over-analyzing every single detail, and using it against us. I was asked to support my claims, justify them and made me question myself. It was that relentless. A single word could bring the whole thing crashing down. Leading questions, the things I witness, the words I used, nothing was left our.

The questions were so detailed that I didn’t know answers to some of them, and I felt as if I was lying to myself. That’s what a day in court does to you. It makes you doubt yourselves.

By the evening, I was an absolute mess, and I didn’t think before answering questions. I may well have jeopardized the case, and it does goes to show that being in Court isn’t as easy as it is touted to be. I was later free to go, but felt a bit sorry for the other witnesses who had to wait days just to get grilled like that.

Who wins?
It doesn’t tale a genius to figure out who would win the case before the judgment is actually announced. However, while it legally would be a win, financially, it won’t be that big of a win with the legal fees alone eclipsing the win. Lot of time too would have been wasted for what amounts to essentially nothing.

Last resort option
Before the hearing, I had gone to a related seminar, where an employment solicitor gave me some very important advice: A Tribunal Hearing should be a last option, and mutual settlements are the best way to settle any disputes. Of course, you can take the chances and take your employee up in Court, and you may very well win. But you are sacrificing significant time and money towards a small win, and in the long run, a settlement is the much better way to go. You need to choose what is best for your business, and if you have to sacrifice a bit for your previous employees in order to move forward, so be it.

Contact Hadaway & Hadaway for advice and help regarding employment law:
http://www.hadaway.co.uk/employment

Different Types of Solicitors for Different Needs.

In the average week, you may come across several situations where legal advice may be needed. For example, purchasing a property can be quite simple but requires a solicitor to facilitate the transaction.

Another example is if you receive a penalty for a traffic violation, but feel that the violation was incorrect, consulting with someone with the necessary legal background may be the best course of action. Property suits also require a solicitor to ensure everything goes smoothly.

High Street Solicitors

In the scenario where you realize you need legal advice, your initial response may be to consult with a high street solicitor. They are ‘general’ solicitors because they handle consultations related to a wide range of legal areas. In the event that they cannot help you, they will recommend a specialist.

Property Solicitors

When it comes to property, a property or conveyancing solicitor is the person to go to. If you plan to place an offer on a house, the property solicitor will ensure that the entire transaction is performed in a legal manner. In some cases, the transaction can go by faster and more easily.

Divorce Solicitors

It is any couples’ fantasy that their marriage will last forever, however it may not be the case for everyone. In the event of a divorce, a divorce solicitor is needed and must be contacted as soon as possible. This solicitor will ensure that you receive your fair share, which means equal division of property ownership, and a fair settlement.

Injury Solicitors

In the event that you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, in some cases, you are entitled to compensation. An injury solicitor will talk you through what you can do, the needs and wants, and most importantly file a suit against the responsible party or person.

Tax Solicitors

If you’re a business owner, you will be familiar with a tax solicitor. They play one crucial role, and that is to handle your taxes and any related questions. Their knowledge on the UK tax system is comprehensive. If you’re looking to be in good hands when it comes to Inland Revenue, a tax solicitor is the go to person.

Commercial Solicitors

Commercial solicitors are also related to businesses, these individuals handle business disputes, contract arrangements, as well as other types of business-related legal issues. If you have just started your own business, and are not sure of the legal side, a commercial solicitor will be of tremendous help. They offer services such as writing contracts, handling business disputes, and others.

Employment Solicitors

Employment solicitors are there to assist employees and employers with any disputes, an example is unfair dismissals from a workplace.