Asking yourself, “How much is statutory sick pay?” We’ve got you covered.
In this article, we explain exactly how much statutory sick pay (SSP) pays out, who’s eligible, how long it lasts, and whether it affects other employee entitlements, such as holiday pay.
Who is eligible for statutory sick pay?
Some employees might wonder, “Does my employer have to pay me statutory sick pay?” The answer is yes, so long as the following conditions are met:
- The employee has an employment contract and has already started work.
- The employee earns an average of at least £123 per week (before tax).
- Has already been sick for 4 or more days in a row (called a ‘period of incapacity’). These include non-working days.
- Have given you relevant notice and proof of illness, for example, a ‘fit note’ if it’s beyond the time when your employee can self-certify.
But there are exceptions, including:
- If the employee has already received 28 weeks of SSP, which is the maximum.
- If, on the first day that they were sick, the employee was in custody or on strike.
- If the employee was in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) within 12 weeks of starting their / returning to employment with you.
- If the employee is receiving Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA) or is in the first 18 weeks of their maternity leave.
There are more, so it’s worth checking out the full list on GOV.UK.
What is the SSP rate?
At the time of writing, the SSP weekly rate is set at £109.40 per week, for up to 28 weeks, paid for the days a member of staff would normally work.
It’s paid on an employee’s normal payday, with the usual deductions, e.g. tax and national insurance (NI).
Although an employee cannot be paid less than the above amount, they may be paid more if your company has a ‘sick pay scheme’ (sometimes called an ‘occupational scheme’).
SSP is paid from the fourth consecutive day of an employee being sick. The three days before this are often referred to as ‘waiting days’. These waiting days are not the same as the number of days an employee has taken off sick, as bank holidays, weekends and non-working days all count.
If an employee is sick for less than these 4 days, then SSP does not need to be paid.
Again, there are some exceptions to this rule, for example, if an employee has received SSP in the last 8 weeks. There are also different criteria for certain types of employment, such as in agriculture or for those working in education.
How do you calculate statutory sick pay?
When calculating sick pay, it’s worth remembering that if an employee has worked a minute or more on any given day, it cannot be counted (a ‘qualifying day’), even if they subsequently go home.
The UK government has a handy SSP online calculator to help you check an employee’s entitlement.
Are there any other options for sick pay?
Company and enhanced sick pay schemes
Although £109.40 per week is the minimum statutory requirement for sick pay, companies can choose to pay more through so-called ‘company’ and ‘enhanced’ sick pay schemes, which are written into an employee’s contract of employment.
Long-term sick pay
Although SSP lasts a maximum of 28 weeks, an employee that’s absent from work for more than 4 weeks could be considered ‘long term’ sick.
Employers can decide to dismiss an employee who is long-term sick, but before doing so, they must first:
- Decide whether the employee could return to work with adjustments, such as changing work duties, providing extra training to manage stress or going part-time.
- Discuss the employee’s health situation with them. For example, this conversation might include whether and/or when their health is likely to improve.
As an employer, it’s important to make sure you’ve covered all the bases before resorting to dismissal, including adhering to UK law on disability in the workplace. If the employee feels they have been unfairly dismissed, they could take the case to an employment tribunal.
Do part-time employees still get sick pay?
Part-time workers, as well as those on zero hours and fixed-term contracts, still get SSP as long as they’re earning at least £123 on average per week and/or paying tax and NI.
Again, the government’s online SSP calculator could come in very useful here.
How long does an employer need to provide sick pay?
As stated above, an employer needs to pay SSP for up to 28 weeks.
But it’s worth knowing that if an employee is off sick again, those periods of absence may count as ‘linked’.
This is the case if:
- The employee’s periods of absence due to sickness were 8 weeks or less apart.
- The employee has taken time off sick that lasted 4 or more days each.
If an employee’s subsequent absence due to sickness qualifies as being ‘linked’ to a previous period, then there are no ‘waiting days’. Instead, SSP is paid from day one.
An employee will no longer be eligible for SSP if they have more than 3 years of continuous series of linked periods off work sick.
What happens if an employee is not (or is no longer) eligible for SSP?
If your employee is not eligible for SSP or it is coming to an end, you’ll need to send them an SSP1 form in the relevant time frame.
For example, an employer will need to send an SSP1 form if:
- The employee doesn’t qualify for SSP. In this case, the employer will need to send an SSP1 within 7 days of their sickness absence.
- If the SSP ends unexpectedly, an employer needs to send the SSP1 within 7 days of it finishing.
- If an employee’s SSP is set to end before their period of sickness, the SSP1 needs to be provided on or before the beginning of the 23rd week.
If an employer is aware that an employee’s absence due to sickness is going to go on longer than 28 weeks, they can provide a completed SSP1 form before SPP finishes. This can be beneficial for the employee—as they can then apply for employment and support allowance (ESA) in advance of SSP ending.
At A-Plan, we’ve got a range of options to help safeguard your employees’ health, including group private medical cover and group health insurance. Get in touch to speak to one of our specialists and find the right fit for your business.
Does an employee have to provide a fit note to qualify for SSP?
Unless an employer is providing additional payment beyond the amount that is provided by SSP, they cannot ask the employee to provide a ‘statement of fitness for work’ (often called a ‘fit note’) unless the employee is absent for more than seven days.
If an employee is absent from work for seven days or less, they can self-certify instead. If the period off sick is more than three days, they’ll need to fill out an SC2 form.
After seven days have elapsed, an employee will need to provide a fit note (and have them renewed as necessary) from an appropriate healthcare professional to still qualify for SSP.
Does sick leave affect holiday allowance?
The short answer is no. No matter how long an employee takes off work, statutory annual leave is still accrued.
An employee’s leftover holiday allowance can also be carried over to the next year if they’re sick, and sick leave can also be taken instead if an employee becomes sick during or just before their holiday.
Alternatively, if an employee doesn’t qualify for SSP, they can ask to take their paid holiday instead.
In summary: What is the sick pay rate in the UK?
Statutory Sick Pay is the minimum amount paid by an employer if an eligible member of staff is too ill to work. SSP lasts for a maximum of 28 weeks and is paid for all the days an employee would have worked (apart from the first 3).
The current SSP rate is £109.40 per week.
There are also circumstances where an employee’s subsequent periods of absence count as ‘linked’ to the first, which means they receive SSP from day one (rather than having to wait 3 days again). However, this also means an employee will no longer be eligible for SSP if they have more than 3 years of continuous series of linked periods off work sick.
It’s also worth remembering that a ‘fit note’ is only required after 7 days of absence from work. Before this, an employee can ‘self certify’ and get SSP for days 4-7.
Although the SSP guidelines are fairly straightforward for many cases, calculating the correct amount can get tricky, so it’s always worth checking out the government’s guidelines for SSP. As well as the government’s online calculator, it might be worth checking out the NHS and Citizens Advice for more information on SSP and fit notes.