Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pulling a Sickie on Holiday

I was half awake this morning when I heard someone on Sky News say this...
People who fall ill on holiday will now be able to claim the time back from their employers as sick leave rather than paid holiday entitlement.

At least I think I did. Please, someone, tell me this was a sick joke, or that I was having a bad dream. But for a government which can introduce a scheme which makes us all paedophile suspects, anything is possible.

61 comments:

Forge Lindin said...

As someone sick on holiday right now I think this is a brilliant idea.

But obviously you should be required to prove it.

Charlotte Corday said...

Iain, wake-up! This is already quite common in the public sector. Some years ago I had a conversation on holiday in Italy with a postman who said that during his last holiday in Spain, he picked up a bug and was in bed for 2-3 days. He said that luckily he managed to get a certificate off the doctor and claimed those days back from his holiday leave when he got back. When I expressed astonishment, he was indignant that someone should not be recompensed for any sickness on holiday.

Anonymous said...

It's policy at Shetland Islands Council(which probably means it's part of Scottish teachers' conditions nationally) that teachers who are sick in the school holidays can have two days off at an agreed time for each complete week. Seems fair enough to me (not ironically.)

Mitch said...

This has always been true. It's called 'the law'.

Didn't I hear you wanted to be an M.P., Iain?

johnnyh said...

It's nothing to do with this govt - it's a ruling from the EU courts and a consequence of their labour laws

frankly it's not that big a deal - Just because someone can it doesn't mean they will. most people would be swapping holiday leave at full pay for ssp at a lower rate and wouldn't actually claim it. In this economic climate workers tend to take less sick leave anyway.

If anything this will give many employers an excuse to revise their current policies and many companies that gave more will now just give the minimum leave they can

there will be a lot of frothing about this but nothing will actually change - some employers will already be working to policies like this anyway

Chris said...

Not even close to the right direction they need to go in to protect workers, but I kid you not, it'll be a popular direction.

The expensive and correct direction - but not the popular one - would be to offer regular sick pay and protections to contract and temporary workers.

Anonymous said...

Iain,

It is a European Court of Justice ruling. Surprise Surprise! Story here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/6190826/Claim-back-holidays-lost-to-sickness-says-European-Court-of-Justice.html

Keep up the good work!

Roger said...

It stems from a European Court of Justice ruling. Some Court, some Justice.

AndyC said...

Wide of the mark here OM. Been able to claim sick whilst on holiday for years , Dr's note needed though.

Anonymous said...

Another contrast between planets public and private sector.

Inhabitants of planet public sector see sickies while holidaying as a right.

Over on planet private sector it wouldn't even occur to the inhabitants to ask, or if it did they wouldn't have the nerve to do it.

trevorsden said...

EU Referendum point out the case referred to someone who became ill before he went on holiday and got the time he was ill back.

Not quite the same thing - but as EUR point out the press and BBC do not always get the right end of Euro Justice Court reports.

Such are we governed and reported these days.

Alan Douglas said...

Reminds me of the brilliant "A Home of Your Own" from the 60s, an almost wordless comedy where the foreman, desperate for a leak, refuses to go in his tea-break. Eventually he flings the remaining tea in the air and runs.

It is only logical that the party of the "workers" would make such rules.

Alan Douglas

Blue Eyes said...

No wonder nobody can afford to employ people! Until we banish this ridiculous entitlement culture, unemployment and growth will remain poor.

Daedalus said...

I have been off sick due to a badly broken ankle and have cancelled the holidays I have had booked at work and then gone on the holiday as a walking wounded; but claiming for sick when you are already on holiday seems to be perverse. One of my staff was off sick for some weeks but was able to get out a bit and bumped into our H&S manager in town his comment to him was "Des its awful being of sick when your really sick" That sums it up I suppose.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from a country where an employee can self-certify themselves as sick for up to 7 days. UNBELIEVABLE!

Human Resources said...

I think you're out of touch Iain This has been the "norm" for years although there is usually a requirement to produce a "Doctor's Note" to establish that the claim is not fraudulent but that is at the respective employer's discretion

Botogol said...

you should check out what you are entitled to on maternity leave: eg did you know women on long-term, unpaid maternity leave are, all the time, accruing paid holiday?

The Boiling Frog said...

Welcome to the EU - the ECJ has just ruled on this

However public sector workers already do this Iain.

One public worker I know who did this couldn't understand my reaction when he told me - but then I'm just trying to run my own business like you are. Which is why your indigniation is similar to mine.

Daveip1966 said...

I don't remember NOT being able to do this, either in the public or private sector.

I think I can even do it at my current employer (private sector, Malaysia) provided I have a medical cert.

golden_balls said...

Why am i not suprised that iain didn't know this.

Best wishes to whichever constituency
you get parachuted into ! I joke but you need to check facts before making a post iain.

True Belle said...

Jolly good job Great Britain became great before the EU had a say in everything.

Do you think this is a means to an end, I wonder how many of the work force will consider it their right to take up these daft ideas-- and which country will be in the lead ?

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, this is really cool! Being self-employed, I get paid when I work, no paid sick leave, no paid holiday. But now if I fall ill during an extremely rare holiday, I can pay myself out of the income diminished by the fact that I took a holiday!

For some reason, employment rights always cause me to laugh in a somewhat hollow fashion.

AP said...

This is currently the case for our feather bedded friends in the public services.

I am self employed so I had to restart work less than an hour after I was out my general anaesthetic last week by email and face to face meetings the next day. One of my employees is having the same op and will be off for at least 6 weeks.

You will appreciate that as an employer I am having the piss taken out of me with this latest regulation.

Next you will be allowed to offset sick time in the evening off against working hours.

dazmando said...

Im sick so im working from home. What do I get, do I get a day off work. Well before you ask I am working apart from reading this blog I am. ok back too it cough

Matthew Dear said...

I have graciously been allowed this before when ill with 'flu, but that's how I viewed it: as an act of "grace" and not a right. I was very grateful.

Andrew Efiong said...

I can do this already with my employer, a well known company in the private sector. I simply need a doctor's note.

idonotbelieveit said...

Hi Iain, I work in a quango, and it is already official policy here

Ruth@VS said...

Speaking as a former HR professional, I can say that this has been happening for years, in both public and private sectors. However, the employee was always expected to produce a medical certificate and usually only people with broken bones or other serious injury took it.

Having said that, I was never keen on the practice and certainly frowned on it. I tended to keep a close eye afterwards on anyone who took advantage of this facility!

Ian said...

Each to his own I suppose. I suppose it rather depends on the scale of your illness during your holiday, but most employers would I imagine, be happy to give you extra holidays if you fell ill and required hospital treatment during a week off.

Personally, I'd find it rude of me to ask for extra days holiday if I happened to fall ill with a cold on a long weekend I'd booked off.

JMB said...

Brings to mind the old joke about having your hair cut in company time because it grows in their time.

Indy said...

The court ruled that if a worker does not wish to take annual leave during a period of sick leave, annual leave must be granted to him or her for a different period.

That would mean for example that if you were due to start your annual leave on Monday and you were diagnosed with swine flu on Friday you could not be made to take your holiday, as you would be entitled to take sick leave and would have the right to take your holiday at a later time.

The ruling hinged on the case of Francisco Pereda, a Madrid council worker, who took legal action against his employer after being refused the right to alter his leave arrangements because of an injury suffered just before he was due to go on holiday.

If people regard that as a ridiculous entitlement then fine – be sure and work for someone who will make you take sick leave out of your holiday entitlement. If you are very lucky they might be kind enough to put your kids down the mine as well.

Anonymous said...

"Hi Iain I work in a quango"

Do you think we were born yesterday ?

Next you'll be claiming your "work" is useful.

Neil A said...

I am in the police and its always been the case here too. Having said that, most officers would never claim it. I certainly never have. Maybe if I was hospitalised on holiday, and it wasn't as a result of recklessness (skiing or whatever) I might do it.

Its not so different to the circumstances of falling ill a couple of days before you're due to go on leave, and cancelling your leave. Is that unreasonable?

Mike Law said...

I thought it'd been in place for a while. I went sick two days prior to a week's leave; when I returned to work I found that instead of getting holiday pay I got bugger all as I hadn't been with the company for a year - so it's not all rosy!

David from Ealing said...

Lots of people work so hard that they fall ill immediately they stop for a holiday.

Roger Thornhill said...

This should be a matter between employer and employee, not "law".

Companies are NOT there to "make jobs" with products and services as a mere by-product.


Question is "Will Cameron do anything?" and the answer is clear that he can't but won't admit to it. He must take the UK out of the EU and reclaim OUR sovereignty we lent to the government (but since handed over to a bunch of Authoritarian/Totalitarians)

Jabba the Cat said...

Being self employed my life is simple, no work no money. Should be like that across the board. It would cure the entitlement and benefits culture problem overnight. Nuf said.

Twig said...

This doesn't go nearly far enough - what about if it rains during your holiday? Surely your employer should take full responsibility.

Cynic said...

It's from Brussels so yes it is true and no we have absolutely no control over it.

Today I have already had a member of staff on to me. We cosnulted him on making a very minor change in his work as we modernised the equipment in the room where he worked. He immediately demanded more money for this and when we gently refused he immediately went sick with 'management induced stress'.

There he has remained for 3 months now, but he did find time in his hectic daily schedule to let us know this week that following the recent European Court judgement his leave entitlement is accumulating while he is away and that when the GP eventually signs him back off the sick, he will expect to be able to take it all and immediately to help him 'recuperate from the stress of having been off sick.'

I wish I was joking or exaggerating but I am not. We ahve some brilliant staff who are in work day in and day out and do an excellent job and a few liars and layabouts like this one who just exploit the system.

Tom X said...

I work for a Whitehall dept, and I certainly couldn't claim that. I think some of the caricature of the public sector is a little overdone here...

Procrustes said...

Iain are you not aware of the duvet days concept? Many public sector employers add a % on to leave entitlements now so that the odd sickie is hidden as a duvet leave day.

Much better than managing absence and improves the absence stats.

Jabba the Cat said...

@ Cynic

In a rational world that muppet should of been out on his ear a long time ago, with due notification to any subsequent employers had he the nerve to ask for a reference.

Anonymous said...

What about weekends? If we're ill on the weekend can we ask for a couple of days off during the week?

Alwyn ap Huw said...

Claiming back sick days whilst on holiday has been part of NHS terms and conditions since the 1960's

Anonymous said...

Some of us have to do it the other way round, fall ill for a couple of days and use a couple of holiday days to cover it else we can't afford the mortgage that month! SSP doesn't pay anything the first 3 days and then it's only a token amount!!

Anonymous said...

I've worked for small businesses and I've been self-employed. Now I work for a big organisation which does pay staff who are sick on holiday. It is not widely advertised and very few use it.

Of course being self-employed does have advantages like making it easier to avoid tax.

A third of my salary goes on tax and national insurance. My friends who are lucky enough to work as self-employed freelancers in the same industry pay nowhere near that amount in tax.

CryBaby said...

Its not worth running a business in this country

Chris A said...

This is standard practice in the NHS. If you're meant to be on annual leave but are instead sick then you reclaim the annual leave, otherwise you would be being paid twice - sick pay (SSP and employers's) and salary. That would be fraud wouldn't it.

I can't believe this deosn't appy universally.

Anonymous said...

Last time I worked in the Public Sector(Local Authority),there were employees who were on long-term sick leave(usually for 'stress')who carried forward their holiday entitlement to the following year on the grounds that they couldn't take all their holiday leave as they were off sick.The number of staff who returned to work on the very last shift before they were due to have their pay halved(this happens after 6 months of sick leave)was truly remarkable.We could predict in advance which day they would be returning.

Neil A said...

Like anonymous at 5.36pm, it is common in the police for us to take annual leave rather than going sick if it's a minor, short-term illness. This is because of "attendance management" policies that mean we cannot apply for posts, promotion or certain kinds of training if we have "too many" days off sick. I would say over the last ten years I have spent more days sick on annual leave than I have sick on sick leave.

I do agree that there are massive abuses of the sickness system in public services. I do get a little tired of the self-employed and small businessmen complaining about their lot, though. I will never be able to afford more than a small house and a second hand Vauxhall. I am secure, yes, but I will never be rich. I know how small businessmen abuse the tax system (paying themselves £450 a month and taking the rest of their money as "director's loan" payments, putting personal expenditure on company credit cards etc - yeah, we know what you're up to).

Do you a trade, we'll take an axe to public sector pensions and perks and at the same time we'll do away with your tax advantages, OK?

Thatsnews said...

I knew a metallurgist who worked for a private firm 30 years ago who used to do this.

Darren Newman said...

What this case is actually about is the situation where the employee is on sick leave first and the period of sick leave runs over into a period that has been pre-arranged as holiday. The ECJ has said (in relation to the 4 weeks' paid leave required by the Working Time Directive)that the employee must be given the holiday at a later date. This also prevents the employer from designating as period as holiday when the employee has just begun what will be an extensive period of sick leave.

Importantly the case only applies where the employee is on sick leave when the holiday begins. If the employee starts the annual leave and then falls ill, the case won't apply because the employee is not on sick leave - he is on holiday but not feeling well, and that is different.

Simple really.

Grump to Inspire said...

"Being self employed my life is simple, no work no money. Should be like that across the board. It would cure the entitlement and benefits culture problem overnight. Nuf said."

I am sick and tired of the self-employed banging on about how hard it is only earning when you are working. I am in the forces and we get a salary and no such thing as overtime or sick leave when we are away (I know you don't either before you bleat on about that). But nobody joins up to get rich, I made the decision to do what I do knowing what I would get paid and how.

I can bet that when things are going well you are laughing your socks off but as soon as there is a downturn it's all woe is me etc. You chose to do what you do and I chose to do what I do so stop with the tears. Should quangos be cut and wasted money be saved, yes; should public service workers lose their rights that get them to provide a SERVICE at a set rate and with some quite strict employment regulations, no.

Andy JS said...

We shouldn't be copying the Italians. It's about time we started supporting a traditionally British attitude to this sort of thing that served us so well in the past.

Tom said...

I think it's fair enough. We live in a society where we must toil away all day for no particular reason other than to eat and sleep and we are afforded 'annual leave' to allow us to maintain sanity and relax for a few measly days a year. If we don't get to use those days for the purpose for which they were intended then we should be given days in their place.

DominicJ said...

dy get this, which is odd, I'm used to using my holidays to hide whenever I'm sick

Auntie Flo' said...

"The expensive and correct direction - but not the popular one - would be to offer regular sick pay and protections to contract and temporary workers." (Chris)

Chris, that's an ill founded criticsm in respect of the majority of the recruitment industry. My temporary workers have:

Good salaries
full genral training
full industry specific training
statutory sick leave & pay
statutory holiday leave & pay
full maternity and paternity rights
full platform of workers' rights
non discriminatory treatment
full written terms & conditions
elected worker's representatives
flexible working
good H&S and working conditions
statutory grievance procedures
statutory disciplinary procedures
respectful treatment
etc

My agency is a member of the DTI amd TUC approved Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), which means we strictly adhere to their stringent, c 40 clause code of practice covering all aspects of workers' rights & employers' responsibilities. The REC operates a very strict disclinary procedure in respect of members, we can be expelled for non-compliance.

Over half of the recruitment industry belongs to the REC and, in my view, REC members are as good, if not better, employers as are found anywhere.

We are also one of the most regulated industries with a dedicated Act just for us, which regulates everthing we do in minute detail. Few other industries can hold a candle to us for professionlism. There are bad apples in the industry, but this is largely due to the government's failure to enforce the law.

Lastly, the recruitment industry is the cornerstone of the flexiblity that provides temporary work and training for a couple of million people a year, which provides a substantial number of permanent jobs and which, recession aside, is the lynch pin of the success of UK's flexible economy.

Auntie Flo' said...

"I do get a little tired of the self-employed and small businessmen complaining about their lot...I know how small businessmen abuse the tax system (paying themselves £450 a month and taking the rest of their money as "director's loan" payments, putting personal expenditure on company credit cards etc - yeah, we know what you're up to" (Neil A)

I'm afraid you don't, Neil. Like many other small business people, I don't do he above.

I have an essential, ancient, company Mondeo and pay tax through the nose for this.

My director's loan account owes me money for the loan I've given my company to help it survive the recession. This loan, albeit a smaller one, is fairly standard even outside recessions.

My business partner and I have also taken pay cuts to help our company through the recession, we have not asked our staff to take reduced pay.

I do not have credit cards, personal or company and claim only those expenses I have incurred.

Those small companies that you criticise are 99.9% of UK's businesses. Without us, UK would be up the creek without a paddle and there would be no money to finance the well deserved pay of police officers like yourself.

Auntie Flo' said...

Neil A,

My brother in law is a police officer, so I know all about what some police officers get up to too. I am, however, too realistic and respectful of our police to make the stupid mistake of viewing all police officers as bad apples: which is error you make in respect of small business people.

Anonymous said...

Darren; "simple really"

As in "the vessel with the pestle has the pellet with the poison, the flagon with the dragon hold the brew that is true" kind of simple.

The court jester analogy being entirely relevant for anything emenating out of the EUSSR.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from a country where an employee can self-certify themselves as sick for up to 7 days. UNBELIEVABLE!

Well, I think right now I can do that (in the US) but it's a special chicken little 'flu rule 'cause nobody wants infectious but poor employees showing up to work and passing their germs around.