Introduction to this document

Conversion of sickness absence to holiday form

Our form enables you to agree to an employee taking their recent short-term sickness absence as annual leave, if that’s what they would rather do so that they receive full pay rather than SSP only. However, watch out for employees who try to use it to play the system.

SSP only

When employees come back from one or two days of sick leave, they may ask if they can take the time off as annual leave instead, which you would then effectively grant retrospectively. They’re only likely to do this for financial reasons, i.e. where they only get paid SSP during sickness absence - which is normally nothing for the first three days - and so they’d rather use their holidays to receive full pay. There’s no legal issue with your agreeing to this type of request and therefore that’s why we’ve produced our Conversion of Sickness Absence to Holiday Form to cover this scenario. The key is that you’re not forcing them to do this - if they’re sick, you have to let them be absent on sick leave. As such, don’t make our form a standard one that staff are invited to complete on return from sick leave. From your perspective, it means the employee is reducing the amount of time they’re going to be absent in the rest of the holiday year as their number of days of annual leave remaining will have decreased. Our form ensures you have the documentary evidence that this was the employee’s own request should they later try to allege you’ve denied them their annual leave entitlement by making them use it when they were sick.

Not so fast...

That said, this isn’t an ideal solution as it means you’re failing to spot or tackle short-term absenteeism issues if you routinely let an employee do this. For example, you can’t agree to let them to convert their time off to annual leave and then later try to include this absence when contemplating disciplining them for a poor sickness record. If an employee has a poor attendance record, that needs to be dealt with properly. Don’t let them use this as a way of trying to avoid disciplinary action. Likewise, it means you’re letting an employee have their annual leave approved by the back door. For example, if they knew it wouldn’t have been approved because there were already too many other employees off on the particular day or because it was a peak work period, if they go sick knowing that you’ll let them retrospectively take it as annual leave on their return, they’ve got their own way and made a mockery of the system. Our form is therefore really only appropriate for those odd days where an employee with a normal attendance record genuinely requests to take annual leave post sickness absence for financial reasons. Our form makes clear the employee has no automatic right to convert their sickness absence to annual leave and whether their request is granted or not is entirely at your discretion and may depend on factors such as previous sickness absence and attendance records, how many days of annual leave they have remaining in the current holiday year, whether they had a previous request for annual leave at that time declined (or where it would have been declined had they applied for it), etc.