Sick leave

Sick leave

Sick leave (or sickness pay or sick pay) is an employee benefit in the form of paid leave which can be taken during periods of sickness, to attend doctor visits, or to care for family members.

How it works

Paid sick leave has multiple uses, but most commonly, it allows workers to stay home when they are sick without losing needed pay. Employers also may allow paid sick days to be used to care for family members, to receive regular preventive checkups from the doctor, or to allow victims of domestic violence to address their health and safety needs. This policy contributes to longterm health, workplace productivity and minimizes the spread of illness' and the flu in public places.

Generally, under sick leave provisions, an employee is entitled to certain number of days a year as paid leave for health-related issues or they may accrue hours of sick leave according to the number of hours worked. Some policies are pro-rated for part-time employees. Under some sick leave provisions, employees can accumulate leave from year to year.

Sick leave provisions vary by country, state and even industry. Many high-income economies require employers to provide paid sick days upwards of 10 days, including: the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Singapore. The United States has no federal requirements to allow for the sickness and health of its workforce.

The Need for Paid Sick Days

  • Not taking time off during illness can exacerbate the problems and extend the recovery time.
  • More women are participating in the workforce, which means more households with two working parents and a greater need for paid sick days. For example, seventy percent of mothers with children under 18 are in the workforce. In addition, about one-quarter of women don't seek needed medical care because of difficulties finding time or taking time off work.
  • Children often need someone to stay home from work to take care of them. The National School Nurses Association recommends parents keep their sick children home from school until they have been without fever for 24 hours to prevent spreading illness to others. Children get sick 2-3 times more often than adults and spread the flu easily.

Provisions in Different Countries


Sick leave has its origins in trade union campaigns for its inclusion in industrial agreements. In Australia, it was introduced into "industrial awards" in 1922

Under the Federal Governments industrial relations legislation (WorkChoices) eligible employees are entitled to:

  • ten days of paid personal/carer’s leave per year (including sick leave and carer’s leave);
  • two days of unpaid carer’s leave per occasion; and
  • two days of paid compassionate leave per occasion.

Paid personal/carer’s leave can be taken:

  • due to personal illness or injury (sick leave); or
  • to provide care or support for a member of the employee’s immediate family or household who requires care or support due to personal illness or injury, or an unexpected emergency (carer’s leave).

Up to ten days of paid personal/carer’s leave in any given year can be used as carer’s leave and personal/carer’s leave is cumulative

United Kingdom

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) specifies that all employees who are sick for a period longer than 4 consecutive days but less than 28 days are eligible to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid by their employer. There are some exceptions including:

  • Employees who are over the age of 65.
  • Employees who are paid less than £87.00 per week (The minimum required to pay National Insurance Contributions).
  • New employees who have not done any work under the contract of employment.
  • Pregnant employees (employees who become pregnant will be entitled to Statutory Maternity Allowance)
  • Employees recently in receipt of Social Security Benefits (within the last 57 days).
  • Prisoners.
  • Employees on strike.

If the individual is unable to work due to medical reasons for longer than the 28 days, they may be entitled to Incapacity Benefit.

Receipt of SSP for a period of longer than 7 days is dependent upon a valid Sick Note from a physician being presented to the employer.

See also

External links


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