It's completely normal for employees to take a day off or two from work. It allows them to recover from sickness, attend personal errands, or even recharge their mental health.
When employees take sick leave, the requirements needed are a little distinct. As an employer, you must provide statutory sick pay (SSP) to those who are eligible.
If you neglect these legal rights, your company is at risk of facing compensation penalties, tribunal hearings, and even business damages.
In this guide, we'll look at what statutory sick pay is, who is eligible for it, and how to implement it into your workplace.
What is statutory sick pay?
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is a financial benefit paid to employees when they're too sick to work.
The rules are outlined under these UK employment laws:
- The Statutory Sick Pay (General) Regulations 1982.
- The Statutory Sick Pay (Medical Evidence) Regulations 1985.
SSP stands as the legal minimum amount given to sick employees. Every employer needs to be aware of which employees are entitled to SSP, when it should be provided, and what happens when the pay runs out.
How much is statutory sick pay?
SSP is capped at £99.35 a week; employees can only receive pay for up to 28 weeks.
An employer can offer a higher amount or outline a specific amount in individual contracts-but either of these cannot be lower than the legal minimum amount.
You can also use the government-provided 'Statutory Sick Pay Calculator' to work out specific amounts they're eligible to.
Who is entitled to statutory sick pay scheme?
Every full-time and part-time employee is legally entitled to statutory sick pay–if they meet the legal requirements.
All employees need to earn at least £123 per week. They should receive the full support allowance and it’s available to:
- Casual staff.
- Agency workers.
- Temporary workers.
- Fixed-term workers.
- Zero-hours contract workers.
Does the government provide statutory sick pay?
Since 2014, the UK government no longer provides SSP to businesses. Employers are now solely responsible for giving sick staff what they're entitled to.
This means a company must cover the entire costs for their staff absences. However, they can apply for financial aid from the HMRC.
The only times the employer isn't obliged to pay sick pay is when an employee:
- Has been off sick for three days or less.
- Has already exceeded the 28-week maximum
- Earns less than £123 per week.
- Is not liable for their National Insurance contributions.
- Has failed to comply with sick leave procedures (like not providing medical evidence through the right mediums).
When is sick pay provided?
You start paying SSP on the fourth day of an employee's leave. These are known as 'qualifying days'. The first three days are known as the 'waiting days', and don't require payment.
The laws state employees are paid SSP only if:
- They've been ill for at least four days (including non-working days).
- They earn wages of at least £123 a week - before tax.
- They've informed their employer about their illness within reasonable time. (Or have followed the specific timeframe outlined in their employment contract).
- They've self-certified their sickness for the first seven days. (Anything longer requires a fit note or medical proof).
Many businesses have an enhanced sick pay scheme. The scheme might include other benefits alongside SSP, such as wellbeing services or medical referrals.
As an employer, you have a right to decline SSP requests if the right requirements aren't met.
How to manage statutory sick pay in the workplace
As an employer, you need to ensure you follow proper sickness procedures.
All information should be outlined in your absence management policy and must be made available to all employees. That way, you'll be able to manage staff absences, as well as absenteeism.
When an employee is sick, they should report the following on the first day of leave:
- Nature of their illness.
- Estimated return date.
- Relevant medical notes and certificates.
After this, they'll need to self-certify their illness for up to seven days. Anything longer, they need to visit a medical professional to attain a fit note. These are given by GPs, nurses, and physiotherapists.
If your business only provides paid SSP, you need to follow sick leave conditions. You need to comply with their legal entitlements, as well as whatever is outlined in your sick leave policy.
If you fail or neglect their rights, employees could raise their complaint to the HMRC Statutory Payment Dispute notice.
What if an employee runs out of sick pay?
There are numerous things to consider when an employee's SSP runs out. You can encourage them to apply for government benefits such as:
- Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
- Universal Credit (UC).
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
The employee needs to fill in a SSP1 form at least seven days before the entitlement period. Or they can send a written statement if you have an occupational sick pay scheme.
It's important to remember that during this time, there is still an employment contract in place. This means whatever absent procedures are included in their contract, you need to follow them through.
Can you dismiss an employee on long-term sick leave?
You can dismiss an employee on long-term sick leave, but only if you follow a full and fair procedure.
Employers may be able to dismiss them fairly if their leave is causing significant business losses.
If an employee has served for at least two years, you need to follow correct dismiss and sick leave procedures. If not, you could risk facing discrimination or unfair dismissal claim.
If an employee has two years’ service and their absence relates to a disability, there are specific steps you need to follow. Make sure you hold conversations, meetings, and referrals to help engage your final decision.
Get expert advice statutory sick pay with Peninsula
Every employer needs to comply with proper sick leave guidelines and procedures.
By doing so, you can be sure every ill employee is dealt with in the most appropriate manner. If not, employers could be held liable for neglecting sick leave rights and sufficient pay.
Peninsula offers expert advice on statutory sick pay. We can help you through managing absence requests, short and long-term sick leave, and managing their return.
Our team offers 24/7 HR employment advice which is available 365 days a year. We also provide advice through multi-lingual support and fully trained counsellors who are ready to provide the best advice.
Want to find out more? Book a free chat with one of our HR consultants. For further advice, call 0800 028 2420.