Firstly, for reference, this is all in the UK, so UK law applies. Here, sickness is not payable unless stipulated by contract, but many employers will offer up to a set number of sick days on full pay.
Now the situation itself: I work in a professional, well-paid role for a software development company, and as a small company our contract stipulate that A) We're not paid for overtime (at least reasonable overtime), and B) We are only paid a statutory amount for sick leave, which kicks in after 4 days of time off.
Because, as a small company just getting on to it's feet, we end up doing a fair amount of overtime in our roles, and management have, in return, always overlooked short periods of sick leave, on the assumption that we basically make the time up at other times.
I have, in this year, done enough overtime unpaid to amount to 2 weeks extra work, so their deal is good for them.
Last month, I took a few days off sick, which should have been paid in full, as per our arrangement. Instead, I've been paid minus the sick days. When I questioned this, I was told that we don't pay sick leave, and we don't pay overtime, nor count it against other leave. This came from the manager above my manager, who normally sorts this out for us.
A few important points:
- Contractually, the company has acted within the wording of the contract
- But, they've broken a verbal agreement between the employees and management
- In the past they have honoured this agreement, setting a precedent
I could take legal action because although the contract states that sick pay is unpaid, the practice has always been to pay it - under UK law this makes it arguable at the least.
My question is, how to deal with this? Is it best to continue trying to negotiate, should I just consult my solicitor, or should I consider leaving the company (something I've considered before anyway).
I'd be interested to hear people's opinions on this. I'm more interested in the diplomacy of the situation, rather than the legal side - I know my legal options.
Some additional information:
I just found out, upon reviewing my contract, that whilst the boss claims they don't pay overtime, the contract actually doesn't say that overtime is unpaid. Originally, I took their word for this, but it turns out that what they say, and the contract wording is different.