Short, medium, and long-term sickness absences have always been an issue in dental practices. Dentists and dental teams should not, and cannot, work while unwell. Due to the nature of the work, any mistakes made due to ill health can be very costly and damaging to the future of the practice.
Where an associate dentist or practice owner is unwell with a medium or long-term illness, there may be financial support available to them. Private and NHS practitioners should look at their personal insurance policies to see if there is income protection.
Entitlement to NHS sickness payments
If a practitioner is an NHS performer, and the sickness absence is more than four weeks in length, they may be entitled to NHS sickness payments. The payments made represent the net pensionable earnings of the performer and are made to contractors, to be passed on in full to the performer.
To be eligible for sickness payments, the performer must have been on the performers list for two years and be unable to carry out any dental services either for the NHS or privately because of sickness. The performer should not receive any other payments from the NHS during this period or perform any dental services during the payment period.
Any dental services that are performed during the sickness and payment period will cease eligibility to all payments. The payments will fall due after an initial four-week period of sickness absence, during which the performer must have been unable to perform services due to ill health.
Ongoing support available
Throughout any period of absence, performers must ensure that they stay in contract with the practice to receive payments while unable to work. Practices must remain in contract with the performer to claim payments from the NHS Business Services Authority.
When a performer is facing a period of sickness, practices and performers should discuss options and work together to avoid performers becoming ineligible for payments. It is difficult for practices when an associate is unable to work and, in some cases, it may be tempting to terminate the associateship or allow the associate to give notice.
Always remember that if associates are unable to work, it makes little difference to the practice if the associate is in contract and receiving NHS sick pay, however, it makes a huge difference to the associate at what may already be a stressful time. All Extra and Expert members can contact our advice team, by calling 020 7935 0875 or emailing [email protected] for help and one-to-one advice.