Learn the rules around long term sick leave, and how to delegate your claiming responsibilities to another MP.

You can also complete IPSA Online tasks on recording absences and sickness, sick leave. Or, if you’re returning from sick leave, download the phased return to work plan.

Scheme rules

The following costs will be met centrally from a staff absence budget and will not be deducted from MPs’ staffing budgets:

  • costs of staff who are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave;

  • costs of staff who are on long-term sick leave (i.e. longer than two weeks), and

  • costs of staff who are UK armed forces reservists and have been granted special paid leave in order to participate in mandatory training in connection with their role in the reserve forces, up to 15 days per staff member per year [7.12]

The costs of staff to cover for those absent above will be met from MPs’ staffing budgets.

MPs should not make arrangements that will take them over their staffing budget limit. [7.13]

Read more about Booking annual leave.

In exceptional circumstances (such as severe illness), where an MP is unable to fulfil their parliamentary functions, the submission and management of claims and payroll functions may be delegated to another MP.

Before this happens, IPSA must receive notification from the political party of the MP that it has consented to the delegation of that MP’s general functions to another MP for an agreed period of time. [1.2]

Using IPSA Online



Reporting sickness

If a staff member is unable to attend work for any reason they must ensure they inform their line manager/MP or arrange for someone else to inform them if this is not possible, on the first day of absence, explaining the reason for absence and when they hope to return to work.

If the absence is likely to be more than a few days, the line manager/MP should set up a time for regular contact with their staff member for updates.

If a staff member is absent for seven days or less, on their return to work they must confirm this in writing with their line manager/MP. This is known as “self-certification”. They must give the first and last day of sickness as well as the reason for absence. Sickness absence includes Saturdays and Sundays and any other days not normally worked.

If an MP requires any support or has any queries regarding sickness absence they should contact Members HR on 020 7219 2080 or by email to: membershr@parliament.uk

Notifying IPSA of staff absence and providing documentation

All sickness absences must be supported by either a self-certification or a “fit note” (medical certificate) and IPSA must be informed of the dates absent, irrelevant of the length of period, due to the occupational sickness rules.

Staff members with absences of less than eight calendar days must complete a self-certification form. It is advisable to keep copies of these forms in the office for the line manager/MP’s own records.

For absences longer of eight calendar days or more, a staff member must provide a “fit note” (medical certificate) from their GP or hospital. This must be sent to IPSA for processing and a copy kept in the office. It is unusual for these “fit-notes” to be for longer than a few weeks, but they should be followed up regularly to ensure there are no breaks in the certification period.

Long-term sickness

Absences longer than two weeks are classed as “long term”.

The salary cost for the absent member of staff will be automatically transferred to the staff absence budget, from the first day of absence, as soon as IPSA are informed.

In such cases, an MP may wish to have some support in the office to cover the absence. This cover will be funded from the normal staffing budget.

IPSA provides Members’ HR with the dates of all staff absence every month to enable them to support MPs with their absence cases. Reasons for absence are not shared as this must be done directly by the MP.

As absences relating to sickness can become complex, it is best to ensure these situations are managed effectively. In such circumstances, you should contact Members HR also for guidance on managing the sickness absence and return to work. Members HR can be reached on 020 7219 2080 or by email to: membershr@parliament.uk

Occupational Health assessment

The management of long-term absence can be helped by the staff member having an Occupational Health (OH) assessment. If an OH assessment is deemed beneficial, then the MP, with the help of Members HR, can submit a request to the OH provider. The MP is required to pay for this service or for other medical reports they require about their staff.

Sickness absence can be complicated, so for additional guidance MPs should contact Members HR on 020 7219 2080 or by email to: memberhr@parliament.uk

Occupational sick pay

Any entitlement to occupational sick pay is stated in the MPs’ Staff contract of employment. What staff members are entitled to for each sickness absence will be calculated according to these rules and will take into consideration the staff member’s current absence record and any previous payments for sickness absence.

During the first year of employment for MPs’ Staff, they will continue to accrue and be paid one week’s full pay for every four weeks of continuous service while they are on long term sick leave.


A member of staff is employed on 1 November, they subsequently go off sick on 4 January and is due to return three weeks later, on 25 January.

The period of employment considered is from 1 November to 25 January = 12 weeks, one day (only full weeks are counted)

Sick leave accrual 12 weeks / four weeks service = three weeks

In this example, the member of staff would receive full occupational sick pay for the whole three-week period they are off sick.

If the MP or absent staff member wish to check whether they will receive occupational sick pay for a period of absence they should contact IPSA payroll for details. Keeping and maintaining good records ensures the staff member will receive accurate sick pay.

Phased return

A phased return to work should only be conducted with medical evidence and agreed with the line manager/MP. It should be closely monitored, and work/absence should be reported to IPSA for pay purposes. For those staff members who return to work on a phased return, the days that are not worked should be recorded to IPSA as sick leave.

The days reported as sick absence in this circumstance will continue to be counted towards the full, half and off pay calculations.

If these days absent are four or more continuous days they will also count towards the statutory sick pay entitlement.

Half day’s absent are not counted towards sick absence for pay purposes and therefore IPSA does not need to be notified. It is still good practice that an MP keeps a record of these.

Statutory Sick Pay

Any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payable to staff members is an expenditure from the staff absence budget, as employers can no longer reclaim SSP.

Accruing annual leave while on sick leave

It would be expected, especially if the staff member was on sick leave at the beginning of the leave year that they would be able to take leave towards the end of the year when they return to work or use it to create a shorter working week.

If it is not possible to do this due to the length of the sickness then the following situation(s) apply:

  1. The staff member can carry forward annual leave up to the statutory 20 days as per the Working Time Directive (pro-rated for part-time staff). Any excess will need to be either taken or paid.

  2. The staff member is entitled to request to take annual leave while on sick leave and be paid for their leave at the usual rate (especially if they are on half or off-pay). IPSA payroll will need to be informed of this in writing.

This is a complex area. For more advice about managing the sickness and/or leave MPs are recommended to contact Members HR on 020 7219 2080 or by email to: membershr@parliament.uk

Unauthorised absences

If a staff member is absent from work without a discussion with their line manager/MP and does not inform them on their first day of absence, this may constitute an unauthorised absence.

The line manager/MP has a duty of care to the staff member and will ensure they contact the staff member to discover the reason for the absence. If the line manager/MP is unable to contact the staff member and if the staff member has not made contact within a reasonable time-frame, formal action including dismissal can be taken.

Staff members giving notice while on sick leave

If a staff member chooses to resign while on sick leave, they need to hand in their notice by writing to their line manager/MP. If the staff member requires their employment to end before the end of their notice period, they will need to have a discussion with their MP. The staff member will be paid anything that they are owed up to and including the last day of their service including any entitlement to outstanding untaken annual leave.

If a staff member leaves before exhausting any occupational paid leave (full or half pay), they will only receive this payment until their last day of service.

Notice following dismissal or resignation on sick leave

Notice will be paid at full pay where dismissals or resignations have occurred during sick leave.

If a staff member is receiving no pay at the time of their resignation or dismissal, they will be paid full pay for their notice period.

Other issues

If there are any further questions not covered within this guidance, please contact Members HR on 020 7219 2080 or by email to: membershr@parliament.uk

Contact IPSA

To get additional support, contact us.