3 MARCH 1939, Page 3

Sickness and Wages The decision of the Court of Appeal

on Monday that an employee on a weekly wage who receives sickness benefit under National Health Insurance is also entitled to be paid wages under his contract of employment, unless that contract is specifically cancelled, is welcome in so far as it clarifies what has hitherto been a matter of individual compromise. The result seems likely to be that employers will protect themselves by dismissing an employee if he falls ill for any length of time. Lord Justice Scott, in giving judgement, ex- plained that the benefits conferred by this Act were intended to be an addition to such financial emoluments as the workman might have—in short, to improve his lot. The Sheffield County Court Judge had ruled that an employment contract was subject to an implied term that no wages should be paid during illness, and that National Health Insurance gave an employee sick benefit as an alternative to wages. This is now held to be wrong, and employers will have to adjust their practice accordingly. They can, of course, for- mally dismiss an employee, with the private assurance that he will be re-engaged on recovery of health.