What is Statutory Sick Pay?
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK is a government-mandated financial benefit provided to eligible employees who cannot work due to illness or disability. SSP intends to offer some financial support to employees during periods of sickness, ensuring they receive a minimum income level while unable to work. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a form of financial support provided to employees in the United Kingdom by their employer or the government. SSP is a statutory entitlement governed by UK employment law, and employers administer it.
|How Much Can I Get
|For How Long
|Up to 28 Weeks
What is Statutory Sick Pay?
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid to employees who are off work due to illness. This is a legal entitlement that all employers must offer.
Employees who qualify for SSP are those who meet the following criteria:
- They must have been sick for at least four days, including non-working days such as weekends. A doctor, nurse or GP must have told them they are too sick to work.
- For the first seven days off, employees can self-certify their sickness. After this, they must provide a medical or FIT note (which includes doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists).
- Many employers have sick pay schemes that are more generous than the legal minimum.
- However, they must not discriminate against employees who are eligible for SSP.
- SSP is taxable and must be included in the payroll. Employees also need to report this income to HMRC through their tax returns.
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a form of financial support provided to United Kingdom employees who cannot work due to illness or disability.
SSP is a statutory entitlement governed by UK employment law, and employers administer it.
Here are the key points to understand about Statutory Sick Pay:
- To qualify for SSP, an employee must meet specific eligibility criteria, including:
- Being an employee (not self-employed).
- They are earning at least the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) during a specific period (typically the eight weeks before the start of the illness).
- Being unable to work due to illness or disability for at least four consecutive days (including weekends and public holidays).
- The amount of SSP an eligible employee receives is typically a fixed weekly amount set by the government. The specific amount can change annually. Employers must pay SSP for up to 28 weeks, provided the employee meets the eligibility criteria.
- There is a waiting period, known as the “qualifying days,” before an employee becomes entitled to SSP. During this period, employees may be eligible for sick pay provided by their employer. SSP is payable from the fourth qualifying day.
- Employees must notify their employer immediately (usually on the first day of sickness) and follow their employer’s sick leave reporting procedures. Employers may request a doctor’s note (formerly a sick note) if the absence extends beyond seven consecutive days.
- Employers are legally obligated to pay SSP to eligible employees, maintain records of SSP payments, and provide a written statement detailing the amount and dates of SSP paid. Failure to comply with these obligations can result in penalties.
- Employers can recover some or all of the SSP they pay employees by claiming reimbursement from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Small employers may be eligible for Small Employers’ Relief, which provides financial assistance to cover SSP costs.
- Some employers offer contractual sick pay schemes that provide more generous sick pay benefits than SSP. These schemes are outlined in employment contracts and can vary significantly between employers.
Who is Eligible for Statutory Sick Pay?
It’s important to note that SSP is a minimum statutory requirement, and some employers may offer more comprehensive sick pay schemes as part of their employee benefits package. Additionally, individuals who are not eligible for SSP, such as self-employed individuals or those earning less than the LEL, may need to explore alternative sources of financial support during illness, such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) or Universal Credit.
The rules and rates related to SSP may change over time, so it’s advisable to check the latest guidance from HMRC or the UK government to ensure accurate and up-to-date information regarding SSP entitlements.
Whether you are a small business or a large company, you must pay employees SSP when they are absent from work due to illness. Employees can only receive SSP if they have been ill for four or more days (including non-workdays such as weekends). This includes mental health issues, so employees suffering from an anxiety disorder or depression can qualify for SSP just like physical illnesses.
Employees must provide a doctor’s certificate confirming their sickness and off-work dates. Sick pay does not count as paid holiday, but employees should self-certify their sickness absence using the company sick leave procedure to use up their holiday entitlement. If an employee returns to work before receiving 28 weeks of SSP, the next period of SSP begins. They can claim for further periods of SSP as long as they do not exceed the maximum limit of 28 weeks.
How is Statutory Sick Pay Calculated?
Working out Statutory Sick Pay is more complex than it might seem. There are many nuances, and it’s essential to understand them to get them right. This is why it’s recommended to use HR software to automate this process.
When working out SSP, you calculate the employee’s average weekly earnings (AWE). This is done by taking the gross amount paid during the relevant period, which may include bank holidays and non-working days. Then, you add in their contracted working days and any other working patterns they have in place.
It’s also worth remembering that employees can be paid up to 3 days SSP in any PIW, increasing to 5 days in 2024, 7 days in 2025 and 10 days in 2026. Employees are protected from being penalised by their employer for claiming SSP and can take action against the WRC if they feel they have been wrongly treated.
What Happens if I Don’t Qualify for Statutory Sick Pay?
Employees who don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay may be able to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance. The eligibility criteria for these benefits are more relaxed than the rules for SSP.
Employees can only receive SSP if they are off work for four days or more (including non-workdays such as weekends) and cannot return to their jobs because of illness. In addition, employees must fill in an SSP1 form provided by their employer.
Only some people can receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK. Certain conditions and circumstances under which individuals may not be entitled to SSP. Here are some everyday situations where individuals may not qualify for SSP:
- To be eligible for SSP, individuals must earn at least the LEL during the relevant period (usually eight weeks before the start of their illness). If earnings fall below this threshold, you may not qualify for SSP.
- SSP is designed for employees, not self-employed individuals. Self-employed individuals are not entitled to SSP because they are responsible for their sickness-related financial support.
- SSP is specifically for employees. Individuals not classified as employees, such as independent contractors, freelancers, or consultants, do not qualify for SSP.
- If an individual is not currently employed or has recently become unemployed, they are not eligible for SSP. SSP is only payable to eligible employees who cannot work due to illness while still employed.
- If someone is receiving Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP), Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP), or Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) during a period of illness, they cannot receive SSP simultaneously. These statutory payments take precedence.
- SSP is payable for a maximum of 28 weeks during a continuous period of incapacity for work. If an individual’s illness extends beyond this period, they may need to explore alternative sources of financial support, such as Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
- To qualify for SSP, an individual must meet specific criteria, including notifying their employer as soon as possible, providing any required fit notes (sick notes) from a doctor, and meeting the minimum qualifying period.
Most employees, including those on zero-hours contracts and agency workers, are eligible for SSP if they meet specific terms and conditions, such as earning at least £123 per week. They also must show their employer a medical report, or a ‘fit note’, from their doctor confirming that they are ill and not fit for work. This can be a challenge for some people who live with or have come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.
Other useful links from our Knowledge Centre:
How to Manage Business Finances Correctly and Efficiently
Unlocking Business Potential: Strategies for Long-term Success
The Impact of Sustainability on Ecommerce Businesses
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