Employers may face absence claims over holiday clause

Employers could face high levels of staff absence if workers invoke an often little-known clause in their contracts, which allows them to reclaim holidays if they were sick while on leave.

The sickness holiday clause is included in the employment contracts of many public sector organisations and and some private sector firms.

Employers should be prepared to deal with staff absence as almost a tenth of the working population, equivalent to 2.4 million UK workers, took Monday off sick, according to estimates by absence management firm FirstCare.
The firm, which covers organisations such as the National Health Service, Coca Cola and British Gas, reported record numbers of staff, approximately 8.3%, which, for many, was the first day back at work following the Christmas holiday.†

A spokesman for FirstCare said many of its clients have a sickness holiday clause within their employment contracts. “It can be good for both employers and employees as it allows people to take sick days as holidays, for example, when their level of sickness would hit a an absence trigger.”
The Department for Work and Pensions’ latest statistics published in November 2008 show that the cost to the British economy of lost working days and people on long-term sick leave is over £100bn.