22/01/2002

ACCA highlights illegal insistence on sick notes

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has issued a warning that companies who insist on receiving sick notes from employees absent from work due to minor ailments are actually breaking the law.

Lending its voice to a campaign which aims to make the regulations clear, ACCA has stressed that current legislation only permits employers to insist on medical evidence of sickness if the employee is ill for more than seven days in a row, including weekends.

However, many bosses insist on the production of sick notes for shorter absences or for such minor ailments as headaches.

John Davies, ACCA's Head of Business Law, explained: "In order to administer Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), employers need to receive notification from the employee of the period of his or her incapacity for work. Medical evidence of sickness can serve this purpose but it is over and above what they actually need for SSP purposes".

The Doctor Patient Partnership, which represents the British Medical Association, has calculated that 2.4 million unnecessary consultations could be avoided if companies adhere to the legislation. This represents an extra 37,000 GP hours a day, which would greatly reduce waiting times for appointments in general.

Mr Davies added: "For businesses to require medical evidence in respect of trivial illnesses is not only a waste of doctors' valuable time but is in fact a breach of the law. Employers should, where necessary, revise their procedures so as not to insist that employees who are off sick for short periods provide them with a doctor's note.

“By following existing rules, many businesses will be able to reduce levels of unnecessary paperwork, which could result in significant savings." (CL)

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