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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 49804
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Currently I am in the happy position that I work for a large

Customer Question

Currently I am in the happy position that I work for a large corporation
who provide their employees with a 13 week period fully paid if they are unable to work for medical reasons.

I have been informed today by an internal HR advisor that this 13 week period covers a rolling year for multiple medical issues, so if the 13 week
period was already used up for a specific medical condition that should an employee find themselves further down the line with a different condition then they would not be entitled to another 13 week period, until a complete year had elapse since the initial 13 week period was finished

I am not at all sure that this information is correct. I was led to believe that providing the said employee had returned to full time employment and had work
for more than 4 weeks without any furthe illness then
the 13 weeks would begin again for a new medical condition?

Could you please tell me if the information I was given by HR was
correct and that it did not matter if the employee
had returned to full time working and had more than 4 working weeks since the end of the initial 13 week period that the company could treat any further unrelated illness as a continuation of the original 13 week period?

Would appreciate your help in this matter as I am getting conflicting information from
different sources

Kind regards
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

How long have you worked there for?

JACUSTOMER-47lmnzfr- : I have worked for this company for 15 years in the 16th August 2014
JACUSTOMER-47lmnzfr- : I would also
JACUSTOMER-47lmnzfr- : I would also like to add that i
JACUSTOMER-47lmnzfr- : I would also like to add that I am over 65 and this had presented additional complications as the company no longer allow anyone of pension age to purchase Group income protection, which is compulsory for any employee under 65
Ben Jones :

OK, thank you, please leave this with me - I will look into this for you, get my response ready and get back to you on here. No need to wait around and you will get an email when I have responded, thank you

Ben Jones :

Apologies for the slight delay, I experienced some temporary connection issues earlier on. All seems to be resolved now so I can continue with my advice.

There is nothing in law that actually deals with such a situation. The benefits offered by your company in these circumstances are discretionary and it is entirely up to them to decide how they apply them. By law you will get the minimum entitlement to statutory sick pay for certain absences, but when it comes to full pay, this is an additional extra that can be offered by the employer and if they decide to offer it, it would be done on their terms.

Therefore, it is entirely possible for them to apply this policy on a 13-month rolling basis and I have seen many examples of when something similar has been done. On the other hand they could also ‘reset’ the entitlement once you have returned to work for a minimum period – both options are a possibility.

The key is whether the terms in the policy reflect what they are claiming. In the event that there were no specific terms dealing with the eligibility requirements, you could refer to past practice to work out how this has been applied. However, if there is no evidence that the way you are claiming was applied in the past, then it would be entirely possible for the employer to argue that the way they prefer is the one that applies and it would be legal for them to do so.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you

JACUSTOMER-47lmnzfr- : It appears that the answe is really that since the company had made this what appears to
JACUSTOMER-47lmnzfr- : It appears that because the 13 weeks Sickness absence is solely dependant on
JACUSTOMER-47lmnzfr- : the company and how they ultimately decide to apply whatever rules they want when they want. Under these circumstances all there current decisions regarding my particular situation were made on the hoof. Nowhere are these rulings in the HR website published and it is only that because I've raised them they have had to discuss and come up with a definitive answer and all because I have reached state pension age. I have forwarded all the issues that they have so recently clarified to the internal Employee Consultation Forum for them to discuss with HR since I am sure that all the employees are not aware that these rulings exist. At least I feel that now that these have been clarified there may be others that may question HRs answers. Thank you for your response. I hasten to add that my company have decided to treat me as an exception and that providing I can continue to work full time for another 3 weeks, having completed the first of 4 weeks this week, they will consider the absence that I need to take for further surgery as a new series of 13 weeks for the rolling year that will begin at the end of this second 13 weeks. It actually makes me think that they have only made these rules up because of all the questions I've been asking. As you say because this is company specific and this large company employes theit own lawyers that they have ensured that whatever the answers they have now supplied are totally legal
Ben Jones :

Hello again, it is important to consider whether these rules were actually communicated to the workforce - it does not mean that you had to have been given them by hand or had them included in your contract, but they should have been accessible in some way, whether on the employer's intranet, or other locations that you could gain access to. Any lack of such clarity could go against the employer to an extent but again the way to challenge this is not always easy - the grievance route would be first and after that you are really looking at considering resigning and making a claim for constructive dismissal, so it is not always easy.

I hope this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating, or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you