Needing time off work sick is far from ideal, it’s a stressful time financially. There are many different types of work contract, and the rules on qualifying for sick pay can be confusing.
Statutory Sick Pay can ease some of the stresses of needing time off work. For this reason, it is essential to be aware of your sick pay entitlements and SSP.
This guide will look the rules on how you qualify for statutory sick pay, and make your sick pay entitlements clear.
What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?
When you are off sick from work, you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This will depend on what is in your contract and if your employer pays for sick days.
Some employers will pay out full wages during sick leave, often referred to as an occupational scheme. This will be detailed in your contract of employment.
When occupational sick pay isn’t offered then you can be eligible for SSP. This is paid at a rate of £99.35 per week by your employer, for up to 28 weeks.
It is a government scheme but will be paid in the usual way via your work. In the instance that your employer does cover sick days then this amount cannot be lower than SSP but can be higher.
How to Qualify for Statutory Sick Pay
To check if you qualify for statutory sick pay you must:–
- Not be self employed.
- Be working for an employer.
- Have been off sick for 4 working days in a row.
- Be earning a minimum of £123 per week (before tax).
Sick Pay – Some Commonly Used Terms
Not sure about some of the terms used when qualifying for sick pay is spoken about or written in your employment contract?
Here’s some commonly used terms, and what they mean for your finances.
SSP stands for Statutory Sick Pay and is a government scheme. Your employer pays you SSP directly in your wages.
As long as you are eligible, this can be paid weekly for up to 28 weeks. If you meet the eligibility crieteria, your employer is legally obligated to pay you statutory sick pay.
Occupational Sick Pay
Some employers may offer an enhanced rate of sick pay. This is at their discretion and will be subject to internal sickness absence policies.
Your entitlement to this will be detailed within your contract of employment. It can also be referred to as contractual sick pay.
SSP Qualifying Period
To qualify for Statutory Sick Pay you need to be ill for 4 consecutive working days. SSP is payable from day 4 of your absence.
This is often referred to as a ‘period of incapacity for work’. As long as you are in employment, and earn a minimum of £123 per week on average, you should qualify for SSP.
See Also: SSP waiting days – our guide explains what a waiting day is, and when your qualifying period for sick pay is complete.
Linked Periods of Sickness
A linked period of sickness for SSP occurs when there are regular bouts of the same illness. To be classed as linked, they should last 4 days or more each and be less than 8 weeks apart.
If your illness is considered to be linked, you will not have to wait 4 days for SSP to kick in again.
Should you have continuous linked periods for 3 years or more, you will not be eligible for SSP.
SSP Lower Earnings Limit
The SSP lower earnings limit for 2022/23 is £123 per week. This means you have to be earning this amount, as a minimum, to qualify for SSP.
You will then be able to receive the rate of £96.35 per week from SSP.
This is a form an employee can fill out and hand into their employer to call SSP.
If you are not eligible for SSP then your employer will fill in a form on your behalf.
Qualifying for Sick Pay & Your Employment Contract
Confused about your eligibility for SSP based on your type of contract?
Here are the different types of employment contracts, and an overview of how they affect entitlement to SSP. There can be confusion about eligibility for SSP if you are not on a full time contract.
SSP For Part Time Workers
You are still eligible to claim for SSP when you are a part time worker. The rights of part time workers are protected by legislation which ensures they have the same rights as those on full time contracts.
It is also important to note that part time eligible workers receive the same amount of SSP as full time employees.
SSP on Zero Hours Contracts
Workers on zero hour contracts are eligible for sick pay. There can be misunderstandings about the right of casual employees to SSP from some employers.
As long as you have a contract of employment, even if this is based on a zero hours basis, you are still able to claim SSP as long as you’ve met the qualifying criteria.
SSP for Agency Workers
Sick pay entitlements for agency workers are a little more complicated. Eligibility will depend on their employment type.
If they are self employed agency staff, they will not be eligible for SSP. If they are employed earners then they can claim SSP. They also qualify for sick pay if they are employed by the agency but managed by the employer.
Sick Pay During Probation Period
Employees still in their probation period often have fewer contractual rights. However, you are entitled to statutory sick pay from day one of employment.
If you’re worried about what might happen if you take sick leave during a probation period, our guide offers reassurance.
How is SSP Paid?
Once you apply for SSP it will be paid directly to you from your employer. This will be paid either weekly or monthly, in line with how you are usually paid.
If you have more than one employer, you may be able to receive SSP from both jobs. You will have the usual National Insurance and tax taken off SSP.
How Do You Claim Statutory Sick Pay?
It is important to understand how to claim SSP so you don’t miss out.
Check your eligibility first and then you can do the following to claim your sick pay entitlement:
- Follow your work’s procedure for reporting your illness.
- If this illness continues into day 4 you may qualify for SSP.
- Should your employer fail to mention this then you should approach them about it.
- They will ask for your first day of illness, this can be a non working day as can the other ill days.
- Put your illness into writing or use an SC2 Form found on the gov.uk website.
- Obtain a sick note from your GP if you are ill for 7 days or more, this can include non working days.
- Your employer will then put the wheels in motion for SSP to be paid in the normal way you receive your wages.
How Long Can You Claim SSP?
Once you are claiming SSP, you can carry on receiving this for a maximum of 28 weeks.
If it becomes apparent that you will not be unable to return to work at this time then you have other options available. You can discuss with your boss about claiming for ESA.
Our guide on what happens when sick pay runs out has detailed information on what support you can get after 28 weeks.
Circumstances Where an Employee Would Not Qualify for Sick Pay
If any of the following apply, then you will not be entitled to SSP and will need to explore alternative benefits:
You will be ineligible for SSP if:
- You are self employed.
- You have used the full 28 weeks allocated to SSP.
- You have received ESA within the last 12 weeks.
- You are already receiving SMP (Statutory Maternity Pay) or MA (Maternity Allowance).
- You are pregnant or your illness is pregnancy related.
- You have given birth within the last 14 weeks.
- You are in the armed forces.
- You are in prison.
- You work in the agricultural industry
Our guide on eligibility for self employed sick pay has more information on what support self employed workers can claim.
What to Do if You Don’t Qualify For SSP
Don’t panic if you now realise you do not qualify for SSP as there are still options available to you. These include:
- Universal Credit: This is paid monthly and helps people on a low income or workers unable to do their job. The amount varies depending on your set of circumstances. There is an online benefits calculator you can use to help work out your entitlement.
- Employment and Support Allowance: ESA is something you can apply for if you are employed, self employed or unemployed. Again, the rate depends on certain factors but you may start on the assessment rate of £61.05 (for those under 25s) and £77 for those over 25s.
- If you don’t think your employer is paying you the sick pay you are entitled to, or need help understanding if you qualify – see the ACAS website. You can also contact them for help.
You need a sick note after 7 days of illness. You do not need one before this 7 day period which means you can start SSP without one.
Based on a 5 day working week, the daily rate of SSP works out as £19.87. Working a 4 day week works out as £34.84 and 3 days is £33.12 per day. It is paid on a weekly or monthly basis.