Law guide: Employment

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Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Contents

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992 as amended, employers are responsible for paying SSP to employees for up to 28 weeks of sickness in any period. The following notes only summarise the main features of the scheme.

For further detailed information, go to the Gov.uk site and perform a search using the term 'Statutory Sick Pay'. There is detailed advice set out on this site including the latest edition of the Statutory Payments Manual, which contains detailed information on SSP.

SSP - Rate of SSP and other limits

Average Weekly EarningsSSP Weekly Rate

Under £116

Nil

£116 and over

£92.05

These rates are reviewed periodically, usually in April. From 1 April 2018, the rate is £92.05.

SSP can only be paid in respect of qualifying days and the daily rate is the Weekly SSP Rate divided by the number of qualifying days in that week.

The maximum entitlement is 28 weeks' SSP in any one period of up to 3 years.

SSP payments from another employer, past or present, do not affect your liability and should be ignored. SSP liability ceases on termination of employment, provided the contract was not ended to avoid paying SSP.

Excluded employees

An employee in any of the following categories has no SSP entitlement:

  • Employees who are sick for less than four days in a row
  • People you pay who are non-employees, e.g. freelancers and contractors
  • Employees who earn less than the lower earnings limit for National Insurance contributions (NICs) - £116 a week for 2018/19
  • Employees who have recently claimed state incapacity benefit or severe disablement allowance or Employment and Support Allowance

Overpayment

Special rules apply to correcting errors such as overpayment and underpayment of SSP.

Further details and advice can be obtained from your Jobcentre Plus Local Benefit Delivery Service, and if necessary from the telephone legal advice helpline.

The decision to pay

Initially the employer must decide whether SSP is payable and notify the employee of the reasons for any non-payment. On request from an employee, the employer must provide them with a written statement of:

  • The days for which SSP is being paid
  • The amount of SSP being paid
  • Reasons for non-payment on any other days

The employee should discuss any disputed decision with the employer first, but can ask the HM Revenue and Customs to make a formal decision.

Notification of absence

Within limits, employers can set their own rules about employees notifying sickness absence. Full details of any notification rules must be made available to employees. If the employer makes no rules or they are outside set limits an employee's written notification of sickness to their employer, not later than 7 calendar days after a qualifying day of absence, will satisfy the notification requirements for that day. Late notification without good reason may entitle the employer to withhold SSP for the number of qualifying days by which notification was delayed.

Evidence of sickness

Employees can be asked to produce any reasonable evidence of sickness in support of claims for SSP. Many employers use a system of self-certificates and doctor's certificates as described elsewhere in this section.

There must be satisfactory control of sickness absence but the employer can choose the method.

Medical statements

Medical evidence is required, for SSP purposes, from the eighth day that an employee is away from work due to sickness or injury.

Regulations require doctors to provide a medical statement which gives them an option to certify that an employee 'may be fit for work' (known as a 'fit note') after taking into account certain advice. This will generally include recommendations for changes that can be made to the workplace to facilitate the employee's return to work.

Resources (England, Wales and Scotland)

The Fit for Work scheme is a Government-funded initiative providing advice for people looking for help around health and work. Their website has online resources, as well as access to specialist advisors who you can contact via their online chat, email or telephone advice line. Their services are free for the public to use.

In Scotland the Healthy Working Lives website provides information and similar services as outlined above in England & Wales.

You can also refer to the guidance for employers found on the gov.uk website, which includes advice on the procedure to follow if an employer receives a 'may be fit for return to work' statement.

If, following consultation with the employee, it looks likely that they will be able to return to work then you should carry out a health and safety risk assessment on their return to work. Guidance for undertaking a risk assessment can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive's website.

Sickness absence and annual leave

There are special rules regarding the treatment of an employee's entitlement to statutory annual leave whilst they are unable to work due to sickness or injury.

Employees continue to accrue (build up) their statutory annual leave whilst absent from work due to sickness or injury, no matter how long the period of absence lasts. An employee can take their statutory annual leave at the same time as their sick leave and receive their normal rate of pay. Alternatively, the employee can carry over all of their accrued annual leave into the next holiday year but only if due to the length of time they have been absent they have been unable to take their annual leave during the relevant leave year.

Employees can also choose to have their statutory annual leave changed to sick leave if their scheduled holiday coincides with them being sick or injured either just before taking their holiday or whilst on holiday, as long as they give satisfactory evidence of their incapacity. The employee must be allowed to arrange to take the statutory annual leave that they missed at a later date. If there is insufficient time for them to take this in the same holiday year, then you must allow the employee carry it forward into the next holiday year.