While our aim at Wholegrain is for a happy, healthy team, we recognise there may be periods when you’re unwell and unable to work. This policy explains what we expect of you if you’re sick, suffering with an injury and/or unable to work and how we’ll support you when you are well enough to return.

This policy applies to all employees of Wholegrain Digital and aims to strike a balance between the needs of the business and the need for employees to take time to recover from sickness or injury.

Notifying Wholegrain of your sickness absence

You, or a family member in the event you are incapacitated, must notify your Line Manager directly  of your absence from work, ideally by 9am GMT. We prefer notification via email, telephone or Slack where possible and appreciate you giving us as much warning as you can so we can cover your work. Please explain why you’re unable to work and how long you think the absence will last. Unless otherwise agreed, we’d like a telephone call or Slack message at the beginning of each day you’re unfit for work.  You have every right to privacy and may state that the illness you are suffering from is confidential.  In such cases, we may decide to organise for you to see an occupational health physician so that we can ensure that we are not doing anything that has contributed to your absence and can support you on your return to work. 

If you know in advance that you’re going to be off for a scheduled appointment relating to your health (a planned operation for example), please give us as much warning as possible so we can arrange to reallocate your work.  Scheduled appointments, such as consultations or other medical appointments, are not normally considered as sickness absence under this policy. Instead they should be organised where possible for outside of working hours or the time is made up in the event they can only occur during the working day. In the event that a scheduled appointment relates to an ongoing disability or pregnancy, then please let us know so that the time may be taken as disability or pregnancy related sickness absence.   

In the event that you are an in-patient due to scheduled surgery, then so long as that surgery is not elective (i.e. not medically necessary, such as in the case of cosmetic enhancement surgery), then that period of absence may be taken as sickness absence.  


It goes without saying that all medical and other information relating to your health, or arising from this policy, will be kept confidential between the parties involved.  Any and all information provided by you to Wholegrain about your health (including, but not limited to, forms and medical records) will be collected, held, and processed lawfully and in accordance with the Company’s ‘Data Protection Policy’. We recognise that such data is sensitive and will handle it accordingly and in accordance with your rights under the law.

Conduct during sick leave

If you’re off sick, we expect you to take care of yourself and do everything possible to speed your recovery.   We don’t want you participating in activities that may aggravate your illness or injury, or be inconsistent with the reason(s) you are off sick in the first place.   We expect you to refrain from undertaking Wholegrain work or indeed any other employment/voluntary activities for that matter, unless of course such has specifically been prescribed by your GP/medical advisor.  If we need to contact you whilst you are absent due to sickness, then we need you to cooperate with all reasonable attempts to remain in contact with you.

Work arrangements when absent due to sickness

Please ensure that if you have a sickness absence, that you have updated your out of office, voicemail and calendar appointments. This is so that clients and colleagues are aware that you are unavailable for a period of time and who an alternative contact is.  It is not necessary to state that you are unwell and unable to work in doing so. 

Falling sick during the work day

If you fall ill or become injured during your working day, then please let us know and confirm whether or not you can continue to work to an acceptable standard.  In most cases, we will accept your judgement as to whether or not you are well enough to continue/stop working.  However, in the event that your illness or injury is a health and safety risk to you or others, then we may have to override your decision. In such cases two Managers will agree on such action before doing so.  In the event you have an accident at work, please ensure you complete an ‘Accident, Injury or Near Miss Reporting Form.’

Falling sick prior to holiday leave

In the frustrating event that you fall ill or become injured prior to taking holiday leave then we are happy for you to postpone and re-arrange some, or all of your holiday leave (in accordance with our ‘Holiday Policy’), for when you are feeling much better.  Please ensure that you still follow the above notification requirements whilst absent during this time and provide the necessary certification for this period as detailed in this policy. 

Falling sick during holiday leave

If you fall ill or become injured whilst on holiday leave then provided you contact your Line Manager in accordance with the above notification requirements, then your holiday leave may be converted to sickness absence instead.  Please ensure that you provide the necessary certification for this period as detailed in this policy. Any re-booked annual leave will be in accordance with our ‘Holiday Policy’.

Company sick pay (CSP)

Your entitlement to CSP is stipulated in your contract of employment.  CSP is discretionary and is inclusive of statutory sick pay (SSP). CSP is calculated on your basic salary and is subject to deductions for tax and National Insurance.  

If you don’t follow this policy, or there is a reason to doubt the validity of your absence, then we may temporarily withhold CSP until we have further information, or withdraw it.  If your absence has been the result of your failure to follow company policy, or from outside employment, or through participation in dangerous sports or activities, then we may withdraw or withhold CSP until we are satisfied that it is fair to pay it.  

Statutory sick pay (SSP)

SSP is a standard rate which is determined by the Government, normally each April. The first 3 days of SSP are unpaid and the maximum amount of SSP that can be received is 28 weeks.  Qualifying days for SSP purposes for Wholegrain employees are Monday to Friday and SSP is subject to deductions for tax and National Insurance.  

Pension contributions whilst on sick leave

If you are in the NEST pension scheme then contributions will continue as normal whilst you are receiving CSP.  Pension contributions will also continue whilst in receipt of SSP only, albeit they will be based upon your reduced and actual earnings. 


For absences of 7 calendar days or under, you will need to complete a ‘Sick Leave Self-Certification Form’ (available from The Granary) on your first day back at work.   

If your absence is likely to extend 8 calendar days or more, then you are required to submit a medical certificate from your GP or hospital physician.  A recognised medical certificate should be forwarded to your Line Manager on or before the 8th day of absence.  In the event that you fall ill/become injured when outside of the UK, then we will accept a foreign medical certificate for the duration that you were due to be in that country.   

Medical examinations

If you’ve been absent due to sickness for 4 weeks or more, or we are concerned about a pattern of sick leave or your health, safety or capability in relation to your duties, then we may need to obtain some medical advice in relation to you.   

We would seek this information from either your GP or via an Occupational Health Physician/Advisor. Before doing so we would discuss the reasons for requesting this information with  you. We’d also organise the appointment/request the report and cover the cost of doing so. Under the Access to Medical Report Act 1988 and/or General Medical Council rules, you would get the opportunity to view the medical information before it was sent to Wholegrain and you would be required to give your permission to the relevant medical practitioner for its release to us.  In the event you did not want such information provided to us, then we would have to base any action or decision in relation to your sickness absence or sickness record, on the information already available to us at the time. 

Returning to work after a sickness absence

Please let your Line Manager know when you are well enough to resume your duties, either the morning of, or the evening before, your return would be fine.  Whilst we want you back to work as soon as possible, we don’t want you resuming your duties until you are fit and able to. If you are not sure then speak to your Line Manager about your concerns.  You may also consider speaking to your GP, NHS 111 or obtaining medical advice from a pharmacist.  

When you return to work, your Line Manager will conduct a ‘Return to Work Check-In’ with you. The purpose of this chat is to check you are ok to be back at work; agree any necessary actions required to facilitate your return to work; for you to make us aware of any concerns about being back at work and in relation to your health; and to update you with anything that has occurred in Wholegrain whilst you have been absent.  Your Line Manager will also check that your absence has not reached any absence stages as detailed below and discuss next steps with you if they have.

Absence levels owing to sick absence

If you have had 3 or more sickness absences in a rolling 12-month period, then it is likely to trigger one of the below absence stages:

Number of sickness absences Sickness absence stage
3 First level notice
5 Second level notice
6 Final level notice
7 Potential dismissal

Sickness absence is measured within a rolling twelve-month period; therefore some periods of sickness absence will not be taken into account as they fall outside of the retrospective twelve-month period. 

In the event that you reach one of the sickness absence stages, you will be asked to attend a ‘Sickness Capability Meeting’ to discuss the situation.  The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the reasons for the absences; identify any underlying causes for them; discuss with you the need for/benefit of an occupational health referral; explore what support can be offered to you to help improve your attendance; and set a review period for monitoring attendance for the next 12 months.  You will also be advised of what sickness absence stage you are at and the consequences of further sickness absence in respect of the above sickness absence stages.  

At each sickness absence stage the situation will be discussed with you and all facts will be considered carefully before confirming if you will be given a notice. Written notice of the meeting will be provided at least 72 hours in advance and if a notice is given as an outcome of this meeting, you will have the right to appeal against it. 

Long term sickness absence

We sincerely hope this doesn’t happen but in the event that you are absent due to sickness for a period, or periods, totalling in excess of 26 working weeks in any twelve-month period, then your absence will be classed as being long term sick.  

We will keep in regular contact with you during this time to see what support we can offer you as well as keep in you updated as to what’s happening in Wholegrain.  We will arrange for you to have an appointment(s) with an Occupational Health Physician/Advisor to understand when you might return to work and if there would be any reasonable adjustments that we could put in place in order for you to do so.  We will discuss their report with you and seek your opinion of the timescales for your return to work.  Any home visits will be by prior agreement and only with your consent.  

Unfortunately we are not able to keep a job open indefinitely due to the impact on the business and the team, therefore, if you are likely to be absent from work/your duties owing to sickness or injury for longer than 26 weeks, then there is a possibility that your contract of employment would be terminated due to ill-health.  Before reaching this decision, we will ensure we have up to date medical information from you and your GP/Occupational Health and we have discussed with you the possibility of a likely return to work days and in what format (phased return/part-time/full-time/redeployment etc.).  If after 26 weeks of absence all the medical reports state a return to work in the foreseeable future (approx.. 4-6 weeks) either in full or reduced capacity is unlikely, then a ‘Sickness Capability Meeting’ will be arranged whereby your contract of employment may be terminated. 

In the event that you receive the terrible diagnosis of a terminal illness, then aside from wanting to help you in whatever way we can, we may decide not to terminate your contract due to ill-health but instead retain you on our payroll to allow any dependents of yours to take advantage of any death in service benefits that may be in force at the time.  

Disabled employees

We recognise that talent comes in all shapes and sizes and that our employees may have disabilities, as defined under the Equality Act 2010, either visible or otherwise.  We want to support all our employees and recognise that due to disability it is important to consider, and where possible, accommodate, any reasonable adjustments to things such as working hours, conditions, responsibilities, training, for example. In addition, that such change(s) may need to be on a permanent or temporary basis.  In the event that you have a disability then please make your Line Manager aware in the first instance, so that we can start the discussion regarding the necessary support that you may require in order for you to conduct your role. We may need to obtain medical advice to ensure we are fully aware of any reasonable adjustments that relate to your disability, either now or in the near future.  Will we discuss this with you prior to organising such.  

In the event that your disability results in you having sickness absence, we may disregard those occasions for the purposes of evaluating whether a sickness absence stage has been reached.  In addition, if you need to attend medical appointments in relation to your disability, then these may be classified as disability sickness absence, whether they have been scheduled or otherwise. 

Pregnancy-related sickness absence

Pregnant employees who are absent from work due to pregnancy-related ill health are required to follow this policy. Any sickness absence by a pregnant employee for a pregnancy-related reason should not be taken into account by Line Managers when deciding if the need for action under this policy has been reached.  Please also refer to our ‘Parent Leave Policy’ for further details in relation to maternity leave commencing early due to pregnancy related sickness absence.  

Drugs and alcohol abuse

Drugs (illegal or otherwise), alcohol or substance dependency will be regarded as an illness if we have been notified of it prior to it being referenced as mitigation for misconduct.  Support will be offered to you if the problem is disclosed and help is requested prior to it becoming a disciplinary issue.