SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) is a legal entitlement for all employees. It can be difficult to understand the rules around your entitlement to this payment. SSP linked periods can be particularly confusing for both employers and employees.
SSP entitlement is an integral part of UK employment law. If companies do not have their own payment system for sickness then they must pay this statutory minimum.
If an employee has been off work sick, and another period of sickness takes place within 8 weeks, then they may be considered to be linked. This eliminates the need for SSP waiting days after the first period of incapacity for work, meaning the employee is eligible for sick pay from the first day of their absence.
Our guide on statutory sick pay and linked periods of sickness clearly explains linked periods of sickness and SSP entitlements.
What Are Linked Periods of Sickness?
If an employee has more than one period of sickness within an 8 week period, they may be classified as linked periods of sickness.
There are two key requirements for periods of sickness to be classed as linked:-
- Firstly, the employee should be absent for a period of 4 days or over. This is based on each period, not as a running total.
- Secondly, these periods of absence need to be 8 weeks or less apart to qualify as linked.
Statutory Sick Pay Eligibility
You need to meet specific criteria to be eligible for statutory sick pay.
- You need to meet the definition of an employee.
- You need to have carried out some work already for your employer.
- On average, earn at least £123 per week.
- Have been off sick for 4 days in a row which can include non working days.
SSP is paid for up to 28 weeks and will be paid in the same way as your wages. You will not be paid for the first 3 days of being ill, when eligible it will begin from day 4.
2022 / 2023 SSP rates are £99.35 per week, increasing to £109.40 in April 2023.
Understanding Linked Periods
It can seem a little overwhelming trying to figure out all the jargon around linked periods and SSP.
We have broken down some of the most common terms you will hear and put them into a simple format. Everyone should understand how SSP works and how it is calculated to ensure statutory rights in the workplace are being met.
Periods of Incapacity for Work (PIW)
You will most likely come across the term periods of incapacity for work when trying to understand SSP entitlements.
PIW refers to sickness that lasts 4 or more days. These days must run continuously with no breaks and can include the following:
- Non working days.
- Bank holidays.
Anything under 4 days does not count as a period of incapacity for work. This timeframe is used to work out entitlement for periods of sickness to be considered as linked.
Once you understand how periods of incapacity work, you can better understand ssp waiting days.
When you receive SSP, you are not entitled to it for the first 3 working days of sickness absence. This means SSP is not paid out for the first 3 days. These unpaid days are known as waiting days.
John works Monday to Thursday every week. These days are classed as his qualifying days. John comes down with the flu on Saturday.
He then calls in sick on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This works out as a period of incapacity of 6 days.
The waiting days, using this example, will be Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. This means John would receive SSP for Thursday but not the other 3 days.
However, if John were to become ill again within an 8 week period, the start date for the 8 weeks in which he could qualify for a linked period of sickness would be the first day of his period of incapacity for work (PIW). This would be the Saturday when John fell sick, and his PIW began.
Qualifying days refer to an employee’s normal working days.
The days they are contracted to work for class as qualifying days. Statutory sick pay does not kick in until the first 3 of these contracted days have passed.
How to Calculate SSP Linked Periods of Sickness
Once you have got to grips with all the different aspects of qualifying for SSP, you can begin thinking about calculating linked periods of sickness.
You can class periods of incapacity as one if they happen within 8 weeks of each other. If all 3 waiting days are used in the first PIW then there are no waiting days in the linked period of absence. This means SSP is payable from the first qualifying day on linked absence.
If all 3 waiting days were not used in the first period of sickness, this should be added onto the next when this happens within 8 weeks.
Calculating and applying the criteria for SSP should be based on the situation at the time of the first PIW. This means taking into account what they earn and if it is over the threshold of £123. This is the case even if the wage is lower during the next linked period of illness. Likewise, if the employee failed to meet the criteria for SSP in the first PIW then this remains the case for any other linked periods.
The UK GOV sick pay calculator can be very helpful in understanding how to work out linked periods of sickness. You can fill this out if you are an employer, or an employee unsure if your sick pay has been correctly worked out.
How Long Does SSP Last with Linked Periods?
SSP can only run for a maximum of 28 weeks regardless of linked or unlinked periods of incapacity. When your linked periods run for more than 3 years, you become ineligible for SSP.
At this point though, there may be other benefits you can claim when your sick pay runs out.