Contractual sick pay scheme and sick pay entitlements: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/18/01734
Date received: 21 June 2018
Date responded: 25 July 2018
Information requested
  1.         Information for the last 8 years for any Scottish Government employees who have been off on sick leave for more than 6 months.
  2.         In relation to question 1, for any employees who have been off for more than 6 months, how long after returning to work on full duties , have employees been subjected to half pay conditions? i.e when have they been formally clear of penalisation by half pay?

We responded to you on 6 July 2018 seeking clarification on your first question.  Your response provided the following confirmation:

Within public sector organisations, most have sick pay conditions of 6 months full pay followed by 6 months half pay.  

From that, my understanding is that when an employee has been off for more than 6 months not only do they incur half pay but when eventually returning to work, they then have to be at work for a continual defined period to clear themselves of ‘half pay conditions’.  

For example if an employee in this position were to become unfit for work again before the end of this defined period, as I understand, they would automatically incur half pay again.

So in essence, my interest is really question 2, which is asking how long this defined period of half pay conditions lasts for employees within the Scottish Government.

For example, is it 3 months, 6 months, 1 year? etc.

Our response to your request covers staff who are subject to Scottish Government Main terms and conditions of employment and Senior Civil Servants in the organisations listed in Annex A.

The Scottish Government operates a contractual sick pay scheme which applies to all staff who are absent through illness.  The scheme provides the following benefits:

  • a maximum of six months (182 days) at full pay in any one year, followed by
  • a maximum of six months (183 days) at half pay in any one year, subject to
  • no more than 365 days of sick pay in four years

An individual’s entitlement to contractual sick pay therefore depends on the number of absences in any rolling 4 year and 12 month period.

When calculating contractual sick pay entitlements, the first step involves an assessment of an individual’s absences over the previous 4 year period.  If the individual has less than 365 days of paid absence in the previous 4 years, they will qualify for either full pay or half pay.  If they have more than 365 days, they do not qualify for any further contractual sick pay until the level of paid absence falls below 365 days.  For this reason and because contractual sick pay is calculated over a rolling period, the payroll system assesses an individual’s entitlement on a daily basis.

Where an individual qualifies for contractual sick pay (that is because they have less than 365 days of paid absence in the previous 4 years), an assessment is then completed to determine whether they will receive full or half pay.  This involves an assessment of the individual’s paid absence over the previous 12 months:

  • where an individual has less than 182 days of sick leave at full pay, they will receive full pay up until the 182 days threshold is reached.
  • once an individual  exhausts their full pay entitlement, they will be paid half pay for up to a maximum of 183 days.
  • once an individual  exhausts their full and half pay entitlements, nil pay applies.

In your request you ask ‘how long this defined period of half pay conditions lasts for employees within the Scottish Government’.  As you can see from the above, this depends on the how much paid sick absence the individual has had in the previous 4 year and 1 year rolling periods.



 Our response covers staff employed on Scottish Government Main and Scottish Government Marine terms and conditions of employment and Senior Civil Servants in following areas:

•           Scottish Government Core Directorates

•           Accountant in Bankruptcy

•           Disclosure Scotland

•           Education Scotland

•           National Records of Scotland

•           Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

•           Scottish Housing Regulator

•           Scottish Public Pensions Agency

•           Student Awards Agency for Scotland

•           Transport Scotland

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Phone: 0300 244 4000 
The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 

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