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Sickness: Your Rights

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 Oct 2019 | comments*Discuss
Sickness At Work Statutory Sick Pay

Whether you love your job or you loathe it, there is every chance that there will come a point when you are not well enough to do it.

At the start of any new job, it's very important to know if you are entitled to sick days off. Most permanent, full-time employees are allotted a number of days each year in which they can call in sick and still receive their full wages. But this is entirely up to the company so it's important not to rely on it. Read your Contract of Employment carefully.

The First Day you Cannot go to Work

It is important to contact your employer (or have someone contact them on your behalf) on the very first day you cannot attend work due to sickness to tell them that you won't be coming to work. You should know who to notify beforehand, where to send in medical certificates, any rules concerning self-certification and also what's likely to happen if you fail to comply with any of these rules.

If your employment contract offers you sick pay, then you will be paid as usual. If you aren't covered, you won't be paid by your company.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

If you are still sick after 4 days and unable to return to work, you are likely to be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This is the minimum amount employers must pay you by law. To be eligible to receive SSP, you must adhere to the following:
  • Earn at least £116 per week for tax year 2018-19
  • Be between 16 and 65 years of age
  • Have performed some work under your employment contract
  • Be sick for 4 or more consecutive days
However, SSP is not paid if you were in receipt of Incapacity Benefit within the past 8 weeks before seeking to claim SSP or if you are in the Maternity Allowance period.

How to Claim SSP

Once you meet all the requirements of SSP, your employer will send you the correct documents for you to make a claim. For an absence of a week or less, a self-certification completed by you is all that is usually required to confirm your illness. After a week, you need to provide a doctor's note.

How Much You Will Receive

  • Employees who qualify can get up to £92.05 a week in tax year 2018-19. If you get contractual sick pay, you may receive more than this but you cannot receive less. You will not get paid for the first 3 days of your sickness unless you were receiving SSP at any time within the past 8 weeks prior to your latest illness. In that event, you would be paid from your first day off at work.
  • You can receive SSP for up to 28 weeks for a total of 3 years. However, you must return to work for at least 8 weeks before commencing another 28 week period.
  • If you have a persistent illness and are still unable to return to work after 28 weeks, you may be able to claim Employment Support Allowance (ESA) but you cannot receive SSP and ESA at the same time.
  • You receive SSP in the same way as you would receive your regular pay
  • If your employment ends whilst you are in receipt of SSP, your payments will stop
  • SSP is not affected if you have to go into hospital
  • If you work abroad you may be able to get SSP if your employer is liable to pay National Insurance contributions for you
  • If you go abroad to visit, SSP can still be paid provided you can prove you are still sick
  • If SSP is your only income whilst you are off sick, you may be entitled to receive other benefits in addition, such as housing benefit

What if I'm Dismissed for Being Off Sick?

If you are dismissed whilst in receipt of SSP, your employer must give you form SSP1 which explains why they are no longer paying you SSP. You should complete the form and take it to your local job centre plus. If you believe you have been dismissed because you are ill or in receipt of SSP, you may be able to complain to an Employment Tribunal and should seek advice from an experienced employment advisor at your local benefit office.

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[Add a Comment]
If somebody has been off sick for more than 28 weeks should they still send a sick note in
Ed - 14-Oct-19 @ 6:37 AM
I work in retail and have a shift later on at 4pm. I woke up late this morning around 10ish as I had a lay in and doing a later shift, and I was fine and felt well. Then around 11am I started to feel really sick And getting stomach cramps. I rang my manger Around 12, and she had a bit of a go at me saying,I had to call in at 8am, and that I have to have a meeting about it now, as it’s an authorised absence, as I didn’t call in at 8am on the dot. Isn’t this bit of a pathetic rule to have? How am I supposed to know I’m going to feel unwell at 8am, I wasn’t expecting to call in sick, and now I have to have a meeting with all the mangers like I’ve done something wrong. Are company’s supposed to treat you like a machine or a robot? Do they not understand that you can get sick any time of day, and that employees are not invincible? Are they supposed to treat you like you did something wrong for calling in sick?
Sam - 5-Oct-19 @ 12:39 PM
My son is due to start a new job on Monday, he has a trapped nerve in his back, and wasn't able to work his last week at his old job, he is in a lot of pain. He has seen his GP and been prescribed strong painkillers. He contacted his new employer to let them know the situation. Should he go in to his new job on Monday morning even thought he is unlikely to be able to work? He can't drive at the moment, it's too painful.
Mary - 5-Oct-19 @ 11:45 AM
I have just been signed back on as fit to work after 2 years.I have been receiving a half salary for the whole time I've been off. I sent my fit note in and have been informed my employers will get back to me in due course.Do they have to allow me to go back?That would be thebest solution for me.
Suz - 3-Oct-19 @ 11:20 AM
Im due to go in for a lumpectomy on 10th October and radiotherapy will start in January. How do I stand with sick pay if I go back to work in November and then take more time off sick in January?
Lisa - 2-Oct-19 @ 7:03 PM
I am a night worker and I was on annual leave for 2 nights and at the same time I started to have cold and flu, body aches and runny nose and the lot. So I just rested on those 2 days thinking that on the day after my AL I should be fit enough to be back to work. The afternoon comes but I wasn't good enough and so I called my work place and tell them that I just needed another day to rest for the reasons mentioned above. I was then told that I don't need to come to work but to stay home for 48 hrs. I raise my point to the fact that I don't have poor tummy/ diarrhoea to stay off work for that long. I needed to be back to work after 24 hrs of rest not including the 2 nights ofor annual leave. Is there anywhere in the working regulations law that can verify with me that what they've told me from my work place is right and that is to stay off work gor 48 hrs despite the reason of being sick??
Nau - 29-Sep-19 @ 2:46 PM
I have been off work with a hand injury,I am on half wages and they finish in December.I am awaiting an operation but don't think I will be back to work be for December will I still have a job ?
Me - 17-Sep-19 @ 10:58 AM
I’ve had a verbal disciplinary for being off sick more than three times I have a condition called fibromyalgia with which I can’t control the flare ups I had an accident that I had a bad fall and injured myself quite badly and was signed off sick for two months I have been told I must control my illness and not be off I’ll for six months but that is impossible with my condition which I can’t predict if I will get ill in that period of time can they sack me for something I can’t control
Chris - 14-Sep-19 @ 1:58 PM
My employer wants a welfare meeting. They have admitted they can do nothing in regards to my heart condition but the meeting is in fact for the benefit of the company. They have told me to seek advice before agreeing to the meeting, who is liable to pay for the advice?
Dusty - 9-Sep-19 @ 7:50 PM
Have been off work for four months I have been getting SSP for this period but never got it this week I phoned my employer and was told my payment has been withheld because they have had no contact with me but I still have two weeks left on my sick note can they do this?
Bass - 7-Sep-19 @ 11:08 AM
I have been off work for 4 weeks with anxiety and depression on SSP and still have a further 2 weeks remaining on my sick note. My employer gave a colleague my P45 on Sunday passed with no written notice of any termination, he has shut down the company I have worked for 16 years with no talk of redundancy. Can someone please tell me where I stand?
Toa - 28-Aug-19 @ 5:27 PM
I was signed of by the doctor for 4 weeks due to depression and anxiety I’m due to return to work till the 13th sept but my boss keeps calling me I have said I will return to the docs on Monday to see if I can get a fitness note and return early but I’m feeling pressured to return to work before this where do I stand do I have to return before I get a fitness note
Jewels - 28-Aug-19 @ 2:42 PM
I had 1 sick day before my 3 rest days, went in for my back to work interview and was told it's 4 sick days, is this correct.
Coco - 22-Jul-19 @ 5:40 PM
Hi my day off is this Saturday but last Friday was signed off for a week with hypothyroidism and have been told i have to work my day off where do I stand.
Noo - 16-Jul-19 @ 8:50 AM
Hello, After 18months of extreme work loads and my management ignoring my request for help, I was placed on sick leave and antidepressants which meant I couldn’t do all was asked of me. However, prior to that I carried my department being the subject matter expert of the supply chain as a junior employee and the reasons for not being promoted was unacceptable and stereotypical so I made a complaint. During the months to follow I was further ostracised and victimised which deteriorated my mental health further. When it was time for the grading review for the annual appraisal I was placed down without any actual reason. When I complaint about that, I was ignored. Subsequently, I was not promoted again. My question is can you be penalised for being sick, ostracised and victimised for suffering with mental health illness?
Lost&Comfused - 15-Jul-19 @ 11:23 AM
Could anyone give me at advice. I have been off work for two days with the flu, I will be returning to work tomorrow but have been told that if I take 3 days sick in 3 month's I will be fired. Is this allowed? Thank you in advance.
Millie - 30-Jun-19 @ 4:32 PM
Hi Can you give me some advise please. I have a long running dispute with my manager who is bulling me and has recently disciplined me although I'm about to challenge it as unfair through grievance and possible court. Unconnected I have a disk gone in my back that has put me off work for the last few days. I want to get back but this problem stops me physically from doing my job as they won't let me do light duties until its better. My manager has just text me to say he wants me to ring the office every day with and update on my condition. Is this fair and lawful. Nobody else has done this and I have a doctors note ?
Nick Rose - 19-Jun-19 @ 11:57 AM
I've worked for the same company for the last 8 years. I had surgery in January and had 6 weeks off, returned to work but then had major surgery at the end of April and still off now. I'm registered disabled. My question is. I had a call yesterday informing me I'm now on statutory sick pay, how can this be? I was on the understanding I would get full pay due to the time I've been with the company. I thought the sick pay went on the tax year April 2018/2019.? I feel I'm being forced to return to work. Any assistance great fully appreciated.
Kit - 14-Jun-19 @ 9:19 AM
Hi.before I start my sick leave is 1 day off 100% in 3yrs in my job. I've been diagnosed with sever sleep apnoea in the last month. Occupational health signed me off for 3months as this is the period they give for results to show after using CPAP mask. I now discover I won't get the mask for 2months now. I contacted my work and informed them of this. They called me in for a meeting and informed me they are looking to return me to work in a supported roll if my specialist says I'm able to do so. No matter how many people are given to support me at work, I'll still be so tired with migraines and unable to stay awake as I'll not have had any treatment for my condition. Can my employers do this? Please help.
Watchy - 4-Jun-19 @ 10:41 PM
Hi my employer send , a menager to my home with a letter , and they gave me a 7 days to contact with them . They said after that day will stop pay me , and I will be discharge from work . Is it legal to do it like that , without posting by mail ? I’m a HGV driver , and I can’t put myself on risk , and the company if I don’t file well . Thx for help
FILLKILL - 3-Jun-19 @ 5:13 PM
Hi I went off sick on 15th April 2016 I sent them fit notes untill March 2018 then stopped sending them I had no contact from the employerregarding sicknotes but received other letters about pension s and paydate changeson April thus year I received a letter stating that I had not attended work in the last 8 weeks so wanted to know my intentions of employment I telephoned them I then received my p45I. Telephoned them to ask about holiday payment I am entitled too they said I am not entitled to a yusthus tru
Kiesha - 29-May-19 @ 3:28 PM
Hi I’ve been at my current job for 6 weeks. At the weekend my mother had a stroke. I’ve had this week off so five days. I get paid weekly and today is pay day. I’ve just checked my bank I’ve only been paid £22.00. In my previous job I had no time off sick in 5 years so all this is new to me. I just want to know what I’m entitled to. Many thanks
Menace - 24-May-19 @ 8:47 AM
Hi it’s it normal practice to be asked twice to ring into work on first day of sickness thanks
Carlos - 17-May-19 @ 2:06 PM
Hi, my employer sent an office staff to my home unannounced on the 7th day of my sick leave due to mental health problems with a letter to attend an sickness interview, is this normal practise and legal, many thank
Tag - 16-May-19 @ 9:17 PM
Been working at my dental practice for 2 weeks, started on the 29th April. Today, 13th May, I have been dismissed for having 2 days off sick on my second week. My friend who also works there has had 11 days off in her first 3 months (3 months is the probation period) and nothing had happened to her. Is this fair? Can they do this?
TC - 13-May-19 @ 12:46 PM
Been working 8 months for the company, took one day of sick, and didn’t get payed Never been of sick before, can they do that , please help
None - 7-May-19 @ 7:07 PM
Hi I've been employed as a care home worker since Xmas 2018 I have caught a sinus infection .I work 3 on 3 off on a rolling rota I was off sick on my last shift day and again today 1st of 3 days - if they sack me do I get1 month paid notice from my employer?
Catlady - 28-Apr-19 @ 1:16 PM
I have been told I need a hip replacement, my wife retired in Sept 2014 and receives her old age pension.I am 65 on July/09/2019and still working and I will receive my old age pension in May 2020. I work 42hrs per week and get a wage of £320.00 per week My GP wants me to go on sick leave for four to eight weeks from my work to ease my pain and suffering and attend physio therapy sessions. I am suffering unbearable pain from my hip,however I had to decline his request as I do not get paid sickness from my employer and need my wages to pay for my everyday needs I have not got a clue what I have to do if I had to go on sick leave. How much money would I get per week or month and how would I pay my rent and other bills.Can you give me any advice on my situation. kind regards kevin howard
spike - 24-Apr-19 @ 8:24 PM
I was off work for 18 months. Returned back to work.But after 3 weeks am ill again with a doctors note. Can i still get ssp and the full entitlement?
Trixy - 2-Apr-19 @ 7:24 AM
I suffered heart attack at work 7 weeks now on sick will it be permanent or will i return to work ,i do not fully understand benefit system.
colin - 31-Mar-19 @ 9:27 PM
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