Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

  • Leave and Absence
An employee who is off sick taking medication.
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

What are the employment laws and policies surrounding Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)? We explain your business’ standing and how you can promote fair sickness policies.

Sick leave can have a significant impact on the performance and productivity of any business.

This makes it essential for you to understand employee rights relating to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and the circumstances in which it applies.

You can get in touch with us on 0800 028 2420 if you need further details. Or you can read the rest of this guide for important insights.

What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

It’s the amount you pay to employees who are too ill to work. So, when does statutory sick pay start? It begins after four days in a row of sickness—that’s a “period of incapacity for work”.

Do companies have to pay sick pay? Yes, you’ll find it’s a legal requirement that your staff receive SSP when they’re absent from work due to illness. But that’s as long as they’re eligible to receive it.

Sick pay law in the UK is under the following legislation:

Do note, this isn’t government sick pay. The money is from you, the employer.

It’s also important to note that, due to these, employees don’t have sick pay entitlement if they receive statutory maternity or paternity pay.

How does statutory sick pay work?

So, how does sick pay work? If an employee (who’s eligible ) is off ill for four days, at that point they can claim SSP from you. And it’s a legal requirement for you to pay.

If they’re only off for a day or more, then they won’t receive any.  

How much is statutory sick pay in the UK?

Now you know you must pay sick pay, what is statutory sick pay rate? Currently, employees have entitlement to a flat rate per week.

How much is statutory sick pay per week? It’s of £116.75 and anything beyond that is down to a company sick pay scheme.

Although it’s important not to offer less than the flat rate.

And if the employee was sick for four or more consecutive days (regardless of whether they are working days).

Employees will also need to have informed you of the sickness within seven days or a time limit imposed by the employer.

The government sets the SSP rate and this is the minimum allowable. Some employers pay the normal wage if an employee is off sick, perhaps up to a number of weeks chosen as company policy.

Typical company sick pay schemes look to reward employees for longer periods of service. For example, once they pass their probation period or have a certain amount of service with your business.

Your scheme will usually use the following terms:

  • Contractual sick pay: This is a company scheme—if you use this, you must include it in your contract of employment. If this type of sick pay isn’t payable, then the employee can only claim SSP.
  • Occupational sick pay: This is where you choose to provide sick pay that’s above the flat rate of SSP.

You should also remember there’re specific qualifying conditions that apply for the employee to receive SSP, including their length of sickness.

Either way, you can ask for your employees to complete a sick pay form if they’re looking to receive SSP.

This is an “employee’s statement of sickness”—a SC2 form they can complete.

Who gets statutory sick pay?

An employee who works (and isn’t in self-employment) has entitlement to SSP. The individual must earn at least £120 per week for eligibility.

Some of your employees may still wonder how to apply for Statutory Sick Pay. Well, they’ll need to:

  • Work for you with a contract of employment.
  • Have performed work under that contract.
  • Remain off sick for four consecutive days.
  • Earn at least £120 per week.
  • Provide you with the right notice.
  • Provide you with a sick note (after seven days off) as proof of illness.

Who pays Statutory Sick Pay?

You’ll need to pay SSP to your eligible employees. Since April 2014, you can no longer claim reimbursement for it from the government.

You now have to cover the full cost of absences. If you’re unable to do this, then HMRC will pay instead.  

If an employee doesn’t qualify for the pay, or it comes to an end after 28 weeks, then you’ll need to fill out an SSP1 form. You should then hand this to the employee.

However, there’s the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate that’s available. Available since 26th May 2020, it allows small and medium-sized business to recover SSP.

If you have fewer than 250 members of staff, then you can apply to HMRC to recover the costs of any virus-related SSP.

If you need further advice on any COVID-19 topics, we have a business support page for reopening after coronavirus.

Sick pay entitlement for part-time workers

Part-time staff receive SSP in the same way as your full-time employees, but with a reduction in the weekly amount.

To calculate what you owe an eligible part-timer, you divide the weekly rate of £95.85 by the number of qualifying days in a week.

You then multiply that by the number of days an employee has entitlement to.

Zero hours contract and sick pay

So long as contract workers complete work for you, they have the right to SSP.

But they must earn, on average, £120 per week for you (and over the last eight weeks). Otherwise you won’t need to provide sick pay.

Employee qualifying conditions

For employees to qualify for SSP, they must have completed some work, and the length of absence needs to be at least four days.

SSP is normally only paid from the fourth day onwards, so an absence of three days or fewer does not qualify.

For the employee, the value of SSP is likely far lower than their usual earnings, which can leave people in financial difficulty if they have no other long-term financial prospects.

You may also ask a member of staff to fill out a self-certification form when they return to work to confirm that they’ve been off sick for up to seven days and unable to work.

What happens when sick pay runs out?

Should your employee’s illness exceed the maximum 28 weeks, they can revert to their annual leave days.

They may also be able to receive benefits from the government—you should make sure your employee knows this is the case. You can refer them to a benefits calculator if they need assistance.

Get Peninsula’s help for sickness pay and conditions

Our human resources services provide you with experts legally qualified to offer advice on all aspects of staff sickness.

 It’s an area where there’s common misunderstanding. In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to employees taking companies to an employment tribunal.

However, you don’t want employee to take advantage of your policies by taking fake sick days.

Somewhere between the two extremes is a happy medium where you respect employees’ health and rights. But your business retains the respect of staff members.

Laying out your policy to employees at the start of their employment is a vital part of the induction process.

We can help you through it by drawing up workable contracts to cover all aspects of employees’ sickness pay and conditions.

Contact us on 0800 028 2420 for immediate assistance—we’re here to help.

The business cost of long-term sickness

For any business, long-term sickness represents a significant cost.

It can impact heavily on day to day productivity, especially for small businesses that also have to recruit a temporary replacement.

Remember, you can pay SSP for a maximum of 28 weeks. In the event of long-term sickness, you can request evidence from a medical professional to confirm the nature of the issue.

You should be aware you must pay SSP if the employee in question has met the qualifying conditions.

However, you may choose to withhold SSP if you have a genuine reason to doubt the validity of the employee’s claim.

It’s crucial for all organisations to establish a clear and fair absence management policy to keep Statutory Sick Pay to a minimum.

Statutory Sick Pay during the coronavirus pandemic

If an employee is off sick due to the COVID-19 crisis, they can claim SSP if they’re self-isolating.

They also get SSP if they test positive and if a doctor advises them to self-isolate before going into a hospital. That’s if:

  • The employee, or someone living with them, has symptoms.
  • The Test and Trace services notifies them.
  • Someone in their “support bubble” has symptoms of the virus.

If you need further help, we provide detailed guidance on reopening a business after coronavirus.

About self-employed sick pay

An employee receives SSP from their employer. This means individuals in self-employment can’t receive sick pay.

Need our help?

If you need assistance with sick pay UK law or your sickness policy, get in touch and we’ll talk you through the best approach: 0800 028 2420.

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