08 August 2019 - Blog, Payroll Tips & Insights
Employers Guide to Statutory Sick Pay

Who qualifies for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Anyone who you employ that meets these requirements can qualify for Statutory Sick Pay.

    • They must have an employment contract with you and have done some work under their contract.
    • If they have been sick for 4 or more days in a row – these can include non-working days
    • Must be earning at least £118 a week
    • Provided the correct notice
    • Provide proof of their illness, after 7 days of sickness

Employees can qualify for sick pay from more than one job, and can also be fit for work in one job but not in another, for example, if one job is physical work that they cannot do while ill but the other is office-based.

Entitlement

The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £94.25 for up to 28 weeks. It is paid:

  • for the days an employee normally works – called ‘qualifying days’
  • in the same way as wages, for example on the normal payday, deducting tax and National insurance

You can offer more if you have a company sick pay scheme (you cannot offer less). Company schemes are also called ‘contractual’ or ‘occupational’ sick pay and must be included in an employment contract.

Some employment types like agency workers, directors, and educational workers have different rules for entitlement. These workers are treated as employees for PAYE tax and Class 1 National Insurance contributions, however, whether they qualify for SSP depends on if the employee has had 3 months of continuous employment with you. The 3 months continuous employment period does not have to be immediately before the Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW)

Your employee has had at least 3 months of continuous employment with you

SSP entitlement will continue for the whole of the PIW unless:

  • they have been given written notice that the contract has come to an end
  • SSP entitlement stops for some other reason

Your employee has not had 3 months of continuous employment with you

SSP entitlement will continue to the end of any assignment they had agreed to work. Your employee may have been offered and accepted other assignments when they went sick. Entitlement will then continue until the end of the last accepted assignment and the periods in between unless the contract has been ended in writing.

You cannot force your employees to take annual leave when they’re eligible for sick leave.

When to start paying SSP

SSP is paid when the employee is sick for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days). You start paying SSP from the fourth ‘qualifying day’ (day an employee is normally required to work). The first 3 qualifying days are called ‘waiting days’.

You cannot count a day as a sick day if an employee has worked for a minute or more before they go home sick.

If an employee works a shift that ends the day after it started and becomes sick during the shift or after it has finished, the second day will count as a sick day.

Exception

You do not usually pay SSP for the first 3 qualifying days unless they’ve been off sick and getting SSP within the last 8 weeks.

When to stop paying SSP

SSP stops when the employee comes back to work or no longer qualifies.

Record keeping

You do not need to keep records of SSP paid.

You can choose how you keep records of your employees’ sickness absence. HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.

Holiday (or ‘annual leave’)

Statutory annual leave is accrued while the employee is off work sick (no matter how long they’re off) and can be taken during sick leave.

Employees who have been paid less than 8 weeks of earnings still qualify for SSP.

An employee’s period of incapacity for work is not interrupted if they take annual leave during that time.

Exceptions

Employees do not qualify for SSP if they:

  • have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks)
  • are getting Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance
  • are off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that their baby is due
  • were in custody or on strike on the first day of sickness (including any linked periods)
  • are working outside the EU and you’re not liable for their National Insurance contributions
  • received Employment and Support Allowance within 12 weeks of starting or returning to work for you.

Pregnant women and new mothers do not receive these payments as they receive statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance. More information on these can be found on gov.uk

Linked periods of sickness

If your employee has regular periods of sickness, they may count as ‘linked’. To be linked, the periods must:

  • last 4 or more days each
  • be 8 weeks or less apart

Your employee is no longer eligible for SSP if they have a continuous series of linked periods that lasts more than 3 years.

If an employee is not eligible or their SSP ends

Employees may be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). They use form SSP1 to support their application.

If your employee’s SSP is ending you must send them form SSP1 either:

  • within 7 days of their SSP ending, if it ends unexpectedly while they’re still sick
  • on or before the beginning of the 23rd week, if their SSP is expected to end before their sickness does

If your employee does not qualify for SSP you must send them form SSP1 within 7 days of them going off sick.

Long-term illness

If you are aware an employee will be out sick for more than 28 weeks you can fill out form SSP1 before the end of their SSP which will allow them to apply for employment and support allowance. 

Notice

The employee should tell you they’re sick within the time limit set by you, or 7 days if you do not have one. You cannot:

  • insist they tell you in person or on a special form
  • ask them for proof of their sickness until they have been off for 7 days (including non-working days)

You do not have to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for any days the employee was late in telling you (unless there’s a good reason for the delay).

Fit notes and asking for proof

After 7 days off sick (including non-working days), you can ask the employee for proof of their sickness. This could be:

  • a sick note from their doctor
  • or, a note from a physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist

You cannot withhold SSP if the employee is late sending you a fit note.

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