SSP Waiting Days – Qualifying Periods for Statutory Sick Pay

Statutory sick pay (SSP) is a statutory employment right for workers entitled to the payment. However, it’s not paid from the first day off sick. SSP waiting days can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with rules on sick pay.

There are also some scenarios where workers will not have any waiting days to claim SSP. This can cause confusion, so it is important to be aware of your rights to make sure you get all your entitlements.

If your employer does not offer occupational sick pay, every penny counts during an absence due to sickness.

What is SSP?

Statutory sick pay is paid out to eligible employees when they are off ill. The payment is the minimum amount employers should pay workers who are off work due to sickness.

Some employers may offer company sick pay, but this cannot be lower than the SSP amount.

Those who qualify for SSP will receive a weekly sick pay rate of £109.40 (correct as at April 2023) which is paid directly to them.

Statutory sick pay can be paid for a maximum of 28 weeks, after which time your right to sick pay will run out. This will be paid in the same format as your normal wages, into your bank account and will be recorded on your payslip.

What Are Waiting Days for SSP?

SSP waiting days refer to the period before entitlement to statutory sick pay kicks in. When off sick, you are entitled to sick pay after missing 3 days of work.

These first 3 waiting days are the days when your employer does not have to pay SSP. They can also be called qualifying days.

Statutory sick pay is paid from day 4 of your usual working days. This is considered the first qualifying day of sick leave.

The only time SSP may be paid during waiting days is when an employee has received SSP within the last 8 weeks. This is called a linked period of sickness, and waiting days may not apply.

How to Work Out When You Will Qualify For SSP

Your employer needs to work out when you will qualify for SSP. It is essential employees also know where they stand as confusion can sometimes arise.

SSP qualifying days are generally worked out using an employee’s normal working days. Days the employee don’t usually work are not counted as qualifying days

Once the employee has been off for 3 working days in a row, they will start receiving SSP on the 4th day. If the employee comes into work, even if it is just for a minute, before being sent home then you cannot count the day in the waiting days’ count.

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Linked Periods of Sickness & SSP Qualifying Period

There can be confusion when it comes to linked periods of sickness. You may not have to see out the waiting days before getting your SSP.

In the instance that an employee has received statutory sick pay within the last 8 weeks, then they may not need to worry about waiting days.

Both of the periods of sickness should be for 4 or more consecutive days for this exception to apply.

How Long is SSP Payable?

SSP runs out after 28 weeks. Once sick pay has been exhausted, you can make a benefits claim if you are still not fit to return to work.

A minor exception to this is when the 28 weeks are linked to a previous period of absence. If the employee did not use up the full working week’s worth of SSP then this may be added on.

Instead of thinking of SSP in terms of weeks, it is simpler to think of it as a total amount of money which the employee is entitled to per year. The total statutory sick pay entitlement works out at £2781.80.

You can self certify sickness for the first 7 days of illness.

Rules on Sick Pay Waiting Days & Covid

During the coronavirus pandemic, there were changes made to the rules concerning waiting days.

In 2020  the Coronavirus Act came into force and the sick pay waiting days were scrapped. This meant employers were legally obligated to pay from day one of SSP. 

However, in March 2022, the waiting days’ rules were reinstated. This is due to the Act only being in place for two years and so things automatically reverted to how they were pre pandemic.


How much is sick pay per day?

SSP is paid at a rate of £109.40 per week, the daily rate will depend on how many days per week you normally work. If you work 5 days per week, the daily rate of sick pay is £21.88.

Do companies have to pay sick pay?

All companies must pay statutory sick pay to qualifying employees. They are not obligated to offer a rate of pay above the minimum of £99.35 a week, however.

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