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Entitled to sick leave?

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A brief guide for veterinary employees

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IF you are unable to work due to sickness, your employer is probably obliged to pay you statutory sick pay. As an employee, it does not matter how long you have been employed by your employer, unless you have a fixed-term contract for three months or less, in which case you will not qualify for statutory sick pay.

To determine your eligibility, you must be employed under a contract of service, and you are entitled to benefits if you meet the following requirements:

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■You are between the ages of 16 and 65;

■You are sick for at least four consecutive days including weekends and holidays; and

■You are earning an average of at least £95 per week.

You are ineligible for these benefits if you meet the following criteria:

■You are taking part in trade union action;

■You are in legal custody; or

■You have been receiving incapacity benefits for eight weeks prior to your illness.

You will receive benefits for every day you would normally have been working. Benefits begin on the fourth day of illness and last for no longer than 28 weeks. If you become ill again, you may claim statutory sick pay from the first day of illness. The amount of statutory sick pay is reviewed from time to time by the Government.

Some employers have their own sick pay schemes, which may be more generous than the statutory scheme; you will have to ensure you follow their rules, which may include providing a doctor's certificate stating that you are unfit to work. These rules may be different from the statutory sick pay regulations. Your contract of employment should state the terms and conditions relating to sickness and sick pay, namely whether contractual sick pay is payable and for how long it is payable, the amount payable and whether the amount calculated includes statutory sick pay.

Do I have to make up on-call duty from when I was sick?

There is no legal requirement for an employee to make up on-call duty if they were sick when rostered for this duty. However, in most instances it would mean that another employee or a practice principal covered your stint of on-call duty. Therefore, it would be a professional courtesy to offer to cover that person's next rostered on-call duty.

What if I am sick because of work?

Employers are required by law to carry an employer's liability insurance policy that covers their workers in the event they suffer a work-related injury or illness. The certificate of this policy must be displayed in your place of work.

These policies ensure that injured and/or ill workers receive financial compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and permanent incapacity, if the sickness is work related. It is important that if you suffer a work-related injury or illness you inform your employer as soon as possible and provide the appropriate medical certificates.

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