Get an overview of statutory sick pay (SSP) in the UK. Learn about eligibility criteria, qualifying conditions, rates, and how employers handle SSP payments.
Overview of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is the minimum amount employers must pay employees who miss work through injury or illness.
Statutory sick pay was initially implemented by the UK government in 1985. The period covered was eight weeks, and this rose to 28 weeks in 1986.
In order to be eligible for statutory sick pay, employees must meet certain criteria.
Qualifying For Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
If an employee is to qualify for statutory sick pay they must have been absent from work for at least four consecutive days. They can then self-certify for as long as seven days or notify the employer of their illness.
If someone is likely to be off for longer than seven days, they should provide their employer with a doctor’s note. Doctor’s notes can be issued by:
- Hospital doctors
- Registered nurses
- Occupational therapists
A physical or digital fit note is acceptable. Statutory sick pay can be invoked in the case of illness or in the case of recovery after an operation.
It is down to the employer’s discretion whether they will accept an AHP (Allied Health Professional) Health and Work Report.
Statutory Sick Pay Eligibility
To be eligible for statutory sick pay you must meet certain criteria. This includes:
- Being an employed individual and actively performing duties for your employer.
- Earning a minimum average of £123 per week.
- Being ill for at least four days – this includes non-working days.
Employees receiving statutory maternity pay are not eligible for statutory sick pay. This is also true for those receiving statutory paternity or adoption pay.
Those that have already received the maximum SSP amount of 28 weeks are also ineligible. The following people will also be ineligible for SSP:
- Have claimed ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) within the last 12 weeks
- Armed forces
- Those in prison or detained by police
- Those with agricultural workers’ contracts issued before October 1st 2013
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rate
The current rate for statutory sick pay is the same for everyone and is set at a minimum of £109.40 per week.
Some employers may choose to pay more than this or match the employee’s regular wage. Details of sick pay will be outlined in the employee’s contract of employment.
Paying Statutory Sick Pay
If an employee is off work sick and claims SSP, the employer must make the payments if they meet the criteria.
Employers will pay statutory sick pay in the same way normal wages are. Income tax and National Insurance are deducted from SSP.
Irregular Hour Workers And Statutory Sick Pay
Employees on a short-term, casual, or zero-hours contract will be eligible for SSP if they meet the qualifying conditions. How long SSP will be paid for is determined by how long zero hours workers have had continuous employment in the position.
Three months of continuous appointment will entitle the worker to permanent contract status.
Can statutory sick pay be claimed for a sickness absence under four continuous days?
Short-term sick leave under four continuous days will not be eligible for SSP.
Some employers will offer sick pay without a set amount of qualifying days. This will be outlined in the employee’s contract of employment.
What benefits are available for those unable to claim SSP?
People that do not meet the eligibility criteria for SSP may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance. Other benefits that can help with living costs and provide financial support include Universal Credit.
What happens if an employer challenges my claim for SSP?
All workers that meet the criteria are entitled to statutory sick pay. If an employer refuses to pay, the employee must contact HMRC who will challenge the employer.
Statutory sick is paid to employees that are unable to work due to illness. The UK government implemented the scheme to ensure workers are not forced to work or go without earnings during periods of illness or injury.
If a worker is eligible, the employer will make the SSP payment in the same way as they do with wages.
It is essential that businesses correctly report employee absences and SSP payments. Employing an experienced accountant will make this significantly easier.