21% withhold bonuses if employee has been on long-term sick leave


Around a fifth (21%) of employer respondents that pay bonuses will withhold bonus payments if an employee has been off work on long-term sick leave, according to research by Direct Line Life Insurance.

Its survey of 112 UK HR professionals and separate survey of 2,006 UK adults, also found that 43% of employer respondents reduce an employee’s wages to statutory sick pay after two weeks of an employee being unable to work due to illness, while 16% switch to paying statutory sick pay once an employee has been off work for four days.

The research also found:

  • 33% of employer respondents pay bonuses based on a pro-rata analysis of days worked and 14% will pay a discretionary reduced bonus rate if an employee has been on long-term sick leave.
  • 30% of employer respondents cite the qualifying period for their organisation’s sick pay scheme is between one and two years.
  • 92% of employer respondents require formal documentation to authorise any period of sickness, and 36% need additional paperwork if the absence is for more unusual reasons.
  • 4% of employee respondents know how much they would receive in statutory sick pay, and 8% have never heard of statutory sick pay.

Trevor Bush, head at Direct Line Life Insurance, said: “This research highlights a worrying disconnect between peoples’ expectations and what they would actually be entitled to if they were to unexpectedly fall ill. Statutory sick pay is significantly lower than the national average salary and people are only eligible for 28 weeks, so those with long-term conditions could find themselves struggling financially if they are unable to work for a long period of time.”