If you’re an employee and unable to work because you’re ill you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay. It is paid by your employer and can be paid for up to 28 weeks.
Eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay
If you’re working for an employer under a contract of service (even if you’ve only just started), you’re entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if the following apply:
- you’re sick for at least four days in a row (including weekends and bank holidays and days that you do not normally work)
- you’re earning at least £97 a week
If you have more than one job, you may get SSP from each employer.
What days you will be paid for
SSP is paid for qualifying days. These are the days on which you would normally work for your employer under a contract of employment. However it is not payable for the first three qualifying days, these days are known as waiting days.
If you work part-time, you must still serve your three waiting days before you can get payment. This means you may not receive a payment at the start of your period of illness.
If you have a varied work pattern, your qualifying days may be different in each week that you work. Please speak to your employer about this.
If you work Monday to Friday and become sick on a Friday your waiting days will be Friday, Monday and Tuesday. If you continue to be sick, SSP will be paid from Wednesday.
If you work Thursday and Friday and become sick on a Friday your waiting days will be the Friday of the week that you are first sick and the Thursday and Friday of the next week. If you continue to be sick, SSP will only be paid from the Thursday of the following week.
How earnings are calculated
You must have average earnings of £97 a week before tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted. This level of earnings is called the Lower Earnings Limit for National Insurance Contributions (NIC) and is reviewed every year. This is lower than the amount you would need to earn before you start paying National Insurance Contributions.
Your average weekly earnings are calculated over an eight week period before your sickness began. This period may vary slightly depending on whether you are paid weekly, monthly or have other pay patterns. If you have just started your job the calculation may be different, contact your employer for more information.
Only earnings actually paid in this eight week period can be used for the average earnings calculation. These earnings must be subject to National Insurance Contributions or would be if your earnings were high enough and may include:
- your normal earnings
- holiday pay
- other Statutory Payments
Salary Sacrifice scheme and SSP
If you have a salary sacrifice arrangement in place during the period used to work out your SSP, the average weekly earnings calculation will be based on your contractual earnings which count for National Insurance contributions. This could mean that your average weekly earnings may not reach the Lower Earnings Limit for payment.
Linking with a previous period of SSP
If you have received SSP for a previous period of illness within the last eight weeks, your new period of illness will link to this and be treated as one continuous period. SSP will be paid for the new period, without you having to serve the three waiting days.
How to claim Statutory Sick Pay
To get SSP you must:
- tell your employer that you are sick
- if required by your employer, provide some form of medical evidence, from the eighth day of your illness
Please read ‘SSP – telling your employer you are sick and providing evidence’ for more information.
How much do you get
The standard rate for SSP is £79.15 a week.
Your employer will work out a daily rate of SSP if necessary by dividing the weekly rate by the number of days you’d normally work in that week. For working out SSP the week begins with a Sunday.
How it’s paid
SSP is usually paid on your normal payday in the same way as your normal earnings.
SSP is subject to tax and National Insurance contributions. However if you only receive SSP your earnings may not be high enough to pay tax unless you get other payments on top of your SSP.
What happens if SSP is not payable or it comes to an end?
If you cannot get SSP or SSP has ended your employer must fill in form SSP1 and give this to you. On the form, your employer must say why SSP has not been paid or why it is ending and the last date of payment. Form SSP1 is used to support a claim for Employment and Support Allowance.
There are two versions of the form, one you can print and then complete using a pen, or one you can complete online and then print.
Occupational sick pay schemes
If your employer has a sick pay scheme, which is equal to, or more than SSP, they do not have to operate the SSP scheme. They may also have different rules for payment, which you must keep to.
Please read ‘sick pay rights’ for more information about occupational sick pay schemes.
If you are sick after 28 weeks of occupational sick pay, or if this ends earlier and you are not entitled to SSP, your employer must give you form SSP1 for you to claim Employment and Support Allowance.
Information for agency workers
SSP is payable to you in exactly the same way as it is payable to others who are classified as employees, if you meet the qualifying conditions for payment.
It remains payable while you are working on an assignment or under contract with your agency. Your employer can’t end your contract of service to avoid paying you SSP.
How benefits and Statutory Payments affect SSP
SSP can affect some other benefits and payments that you may be entitled to.
What else you should know
If you go into hospital, SSP isn’t affected.
If you work abroad, you may be able to get SSP if your employer pays National Insurance contributions for you.
If you go abroad to visit, you may still claim SSP if you can prove you’re still sick.
Serving members of the Armed Forces cannot get SSP, but members of their families may be able to get it.
Please read ‘Claiming benefits in Europe’ for more information.
SSP and insolvency
If your employer does not pay you SSP because they are insolvent, payment will be made by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They will only do this when your employer has been formally declared insolvent.
HMRC will take over the payment from and including the week of insolvency. Any payments before that date must be paid by your employer.
If your employer is insolvent, you should telephone the Statutory Payments Disputes Team on 0191 225 5221. They will need to know:
- your name and address
- the date your employer became insolvent
- details from your payslips of any payments received and the period covered by the last payment
- the date the statutory sick payment ends or the date you intend to go back to work
You may also be asked to provide some of this information in writing.
If you disagree with the decision on your SSP
If you think your employer’s decision not to pay you SSP is wrong, or that you’re not getting the right amount, ask them for the reason.
If you still disagree, you can contact the HM Revenue and Customs employees enquiry line on 0845 302 1479 for advice.
Please read ‘Statutory payments – if you think your employer’s decision is wrong’ for more information.