The GBC requires clear, fair and transparent policies that support and encourage employee well-being and ban unreasonable penalties for legitimate sickness.

What it is

This component recognises that the physical and mental well-being of people really matters and that a responsible business will support and encourage this.

We support good quality work which is stable and safe, and as varied and interesting work as possible, which includes learning and skills development.  We see the role of line managers as a key one, recognising that most people leave their line-manager, not their job.  Responsible organisations will strive to have supportive line management who will allow open, honest discussion without concern of punitive repercussion. We would always like to encourage constructive feedback on progress and clarity of role with clear direction. 

We believe this should help provide well-being support to employees and reduce both absenteeism and presenteeism, defined as the lack of productivity when employees are not fully functioning in the workplace because of an illness, injury or other condition. There is an important distinction between employees that are abusing a sickness policy and those who are genuinely unwell and need support and this component seeks to ensure adequate support is provided for those genuinely struggling with their physical and/or mental health. 

A company is employing people to do a job and if they are unable to do their job due to ill-health, a company is able to dismiss an employee.  This becomes particularly pertinent when there is long-term sickness and the GBC recognises that dismissal may be necessary.  However, there are strict procedures that an employer needs to follow before it can dismiss someone on the grounds of ill health.  The GBC has chosen this component in recognition of the fact that some organisations do not take such measures and use the threat of losing employment to penalise legitimate sickness, both physical and mental.

Why it matters

People cannot control when they are unwell and proper procedures should be taken as part of care of employees in line with their contracts.

It is an employer’s duty to manage health in the workplace.  This includes protecting employees from working excessive hours.  We abhor any organisation that encourages a macho culture of working long hours as established practice and believe it is counter-productive and damaging to the health of those feeling the pressure to work excessive hours.  

Before dismissal becomes an option, we expect a company to discuss ways of minimising the impact of an employee’s absence on the organisation and whether there are any ways to help the employee manage their health better.

If the absences are because of a disability, the company must make any reasonable adjustments to help the employee return to work.  This could include more flexible working arrangements, part-time working, giving some of their duties to someone else and moving them to a less strenuous post (all with the employee’s consent).  No one should be doing their job fearful of becoming unwell nor feel forced to come to work even if unwell.

Sick pay

The Good Business Charter strongly encourages members to, where possible, pay staff members generous sick pay when unable to work. At the very least, we would expect sick pay to match or exceed the real living wage and be paid without waiting days.  In all cases we encourage dialogue between employers and their staff members about appropriate arrangements. 

Smaller organisations

For companies with up to 50 employees we have developed a streamlined version of the accreditation in collaboration with Federation of Small Businesses.  Please find more information about this and the questions you will be asked here:

Self-certification for organisations with over 50 employees

To receive Good Business Charter accreditation, businesses will be asked the following two questions:

1. Do you currently have or commit to have clear, fair and transparent policies that support and encourage employee well-being including a sickness policy which clearly outlines both employee and employer responsibilities and bans unreasonable penalties for legitimate sickness?

2. Do you currently promote or commit going forwards to promote access to impartial support and advice for employees with physical and mental health needs?

By unreasonable penalties we are referring to situations like those documented in the book ‘Hired’ by James Bloodworth where employees are scared to be unwell because they have a small, limited number of sickness days before they are fired.  We are not referring to reasonable discussions/decisions that may be necessary as part of managing staff sickness in a company.


If you are concerned that you will not be able to answer these questions but believe that your organisational practices follow the spirit of this component, please consult with us so that we can make a judgement on whether we believe you meet the requirements of the component.  We are really keen to have organisations of all sizes and from all types of industries and sectors joining the Good Business Charter.  These are standard questions and for some organisations there may be questions that are just not relevant or too onerous.  We want to hear from you if you feel that is the case and we will take a sympathetic view. 

Good Business Charter

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Our 10 components

Find out more about the ideals that make up the cornerstone of the Good Business Charter.
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Employee well-being


Calling all employees, customers and suppliers.

If you have reason to believe that a GBC accredited organisation is not meeting its obligations, please let us know.