Case Study

Abuse of Company Sick Pay


Abuse of Company Sick Pay

The sick pay schemes in most of the academies we support are in line with the generous nationally agreed schemes for teachers and Local Government Employees. Frequent but short absences of one or two days rarely impact on the employee’s salary.

What was the HR and leadership situation?

  • A staff member had recently reduced working days from five to three per week in order to grow their own business. The business supplied drinks and food packages to parties and events. 
  • The employee called in sick, the academy arranged cover and recorded the absence as sick so the staff member would receive full contractual sick pay.
  • Over the weekend the business was tagged in a social media post where a satisfied customer thanked the company for stepping in at the last minute to help as the original drink provider had cancelled with only 24-hours’ notice. 
  • Work colleagues had seen the post and reported it to the Principal.  

How did the Birch-HR Consultant(s) support?

  • The Academy’s School Business Manager contacted Birch-HR to ask for advice. They were advised to check the absence records against the social media posts. 
  • The Consultant prepared a script for the Business Manager and drafted some initial questions for the meeting.
  • It transpired that the previous six absences coincided with events that the either the company had been tagged in by the customer, or the company had posted themselves.
  • The Birch-HR consultant made themselves available on the next working day to be present at the return-to-work meeting. At the meeting, and after being offered the opportunity to be accompanied, the consultant shared the social media content and the comparison to the absence record.
  • The employee absolutely denied the allegations and even challenged the consultant and Business Manager to “prove it”.

Having requested a short adjournment, the consultant shared with the Business Manager the options:

These include:

  • Take the employee’s word and no further formal action.
  • Instigate the Academy’s disciplinary procedure, or
  • Terminate the contract of employment, as the employee had less than 2-years’ service in line with due process and a risk management approach.

What was the outcome and how did HR add value?

  • The employee asked the academy to accept their resignation with immediate effect.

  • The Principal agreed to accept the resignation and deferred processing for a few days, as a cooling off period.

  • The matter was concluded by lunchtime, which helped to mitigate the need for a time-consuming formal process and enabled the employee to focus on running their commercial business.

  • The effective management of the abuse of sick pay, supported other employees that did attend work regularly, so they were not left to cover for a colleague who had regular short-term absences and which was having a detrimental effect on teaching and learning.

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