What is Sick Pay?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Sick pay is compensation provided to an employee who is unable to attend work due to illness. This pay is treated like all other income and is taxable under the law. The laws surrounding sick pay vary considerably from nation to nation; some nations provide statutory sick pay, meaning that employees are entitled to such pay under the law, while others do not. Information about rights to employee leave under the law must be provided by employers, and in some countries it must be posted so that employees do not have to ask.

When people get sick and need to take time off from work, they may be concerned both about the potential for lost income and the possibility of losing their jobs. Sick pay addresses both concerns; it makes it clear that people will not be penalized for staying home while they are sick, and it provides pay. Some employers may provide a set number of days of full sick pay, along with partial sick pay for employees who exceed the number of full days they are allowed. Any days over the amount allowed by the employer will be unpaid.


In nations where the government does not mandate sick pay, public health advocates have lobbied to change the law to provide it. People who can access sick pay are less likely to go to work while sick, which reduces the risk of spreading disease. People who are afraid of losing their jobs or who cannot afford lost income will attend work even if they are ill, and they may be contagious, causing the sickness to spread in their communities.

In some regions, people are guaranteed a certain amount of leave during pregnancy or bereavement, in addition to times when they need to care for sick family members. Such leave may be paid or unpaid, depending on the law and the policies of individual employers. In these countries, it may be possible for people to take leave while they are sick, ensuring that they will have their jobs when they recover, but they may not be provided with sick pay.

Employers who offer sick pay must explain how it works to new employees. Usually paystubs have information on them about the number of sick days an employee has accrued. Some employers will allow their personnel to use sick days as vacation days in order to take a paid vacation, especially if sick days expire at the end of the year if they are not used. People may be required to provide notes from their doctors in order to demonstrate that they were really ill to qualify for payment for missed days of work.


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Post 1

It's only been the past few years that employees at my company started receiving sick days. Before, we would get half pay and then have to portion it out with our vacation days if we didn't want to end up with a short check. This was supposed to keep people from calling in if they weren't really sick. Mostly what it did was make people come into work when they didn't need to be there, resulting in them infecting the entire office with their bug.

We have seven sick leave days a year, but most people don't take anything like that many, unless they catch something really bad, like a bad case of the flu or something. However, we also don't have as many people coming to work and spreading their germs to everyone else. That's the main benefit, in my opinion.

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