Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sickies and pay in the NHS

During the last week there has been quite a lot said about the NHS, and one of the subject areas has been the massive amount of time off with sickness that occurs for its staff. As one would expect this caused outrage for some, but what I've not seen mentioned, and admittedly it may have been elsewhere, is that the reason they have so much time off sick is because of their policies on returning to work.

As I understand it, and people may correct me on this if they like, if you go sick and you work in the NHS, you are not actually allowed to return to work until 48 hours after the last symptoms of your sickness occurred. This means that if you wake up one morning and feel rough, have a stomach ache, sneezes etc, you must, at the very minimum, take three days off work.

Now, I think that kind of puts thing into perspective when you look at the total figures that people have been talking about in the news. In order to stop cross-infection it makes sense doesn't it? This also puts into perspective, to some extent at least, the news in this morning's Telegraph that whilst off sick NHS staff get a better than basic pay for their time off.

Admittedly, it is a tad excessive to pay someone based on an average of their last three months of pay and overtime. But isn't it also unfair not to compensate someone a little bit more if at least two days of their sickness time off is actually only present because of an internal policy about returning to work?

Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying that we should pay someone oodles of overtime on top of basic pay if they go sick for two months just because they did oodles of overtime in the three months before becoming sick. However, if someone is ill for two days shouldn't they be compensated for the extra two that they have to take off through no choice of their own at a higher rate than their basic pay?


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