Taking time off sick is always a worry. This is even more so if your sick leave looks like being for a long period. In this situation you might be worried about what happens when sick pay runs out.
Being off work due to long term sickness can be a stressful time emotionally and financially so it’s important to understand your entitlements to long term sick pay after 28 weeks.
The last thing you need is to be worried about money related issues, or the future of your job. Our guide will take you through what your sick pay entitlements are, and what happens when those are exhausted.
This guide helps you understand your rights and what happens when sick pay runs out. Hopefully it gives the reassurance you need so you can concentrate on your recovery.
Sick Pay Entitlements
You may have company sick pay entitlements set out in your contract, or you may be entitled to SSP. Some employers offer a certain amount of sick leave at full pay.
You should check your contract to see what your company offers.
About SSP Entitlements
If you aren’t entitled to enhanced company sick pay, or it runs out, you will still get SSP.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid at a rate of £99.35 per week for a maximum of 28 weeks. SSP comes into force after 4 consecutive days off work due to illness. These days are referred to as SSP waiting days or qualifying days.
If you have no written contract then SSP is still payable. You cannot be denied sick pay, even if your work contract says you have no entitlement.
To qualify for SSP you should:-
- Have carried out some work for your employer to date. However the period of time you have worked there is not stipulated within the SSP guidelines.
- Be earning the lower threshold NIC earnings as a minimum (£118 per week).
- Contact your employer and notify them of your sickness via the correct protocols.
- Be able to show a doctors note (fit note) where applicable.
There are some circumstances in which SSP won’t be paid out. For example if you:-
- Are already in receipt of maternity pay.
- Have already exceeded the 28 weeks of SSP.
- Have been ill for a linked period of more than 3 years.
Your basic sick pay entitlements might well come down to what is in your work contract. Often companies will have their own occupational sick pay scheme in place, offering pay above the statutory minimum.
Some employers will also have a specific clauses covering what happens if sick leave occurs during your notice period. By law, employers cannot pay less than SSP and it is important to be aware of this.
How Long Can You Get Sick Pay For?
SSP is available for 28 weeks of the year, after which time it will stop. The current rate of SSP (as of 2022) is £99.35 per week.
SSP is paid directly from your employer in the normal way that you receive your pay. This will usually be via PAYE and will be shown on your wage slip. SSP
When Does SSP Reset?
Your entitlement to SSP will be reset after you’ve returned to work for 8 weeks.
After you’ve been back at work for this period, your 28 week entitlement to sick pay will be reset.
Using Holiday Pay When Off Sick
You can request to take some paid holiday when off sick to reduce the financial impact of your sick leave. However, your employer is not obligated to allow you to do this. It will be at their discretion.
Bear in mind that employees can’t get holiday pay and sick pay at the same time. However workers do continue accrue holiday pay when off sick.
If you’ve been off sick for a long time, it may mean you have more holidays available to you. If your employer allows it, you might get some additional financial support by taking the extra leave days.
Taking Holidays During Sick Leave
If your request to use holidays during sick leave is accepted, then sick pay will be put on pause. This means your 28 week SSP entitlement period will be frozen.
You will then be switched onto holiday pay, and sick leave will restart afterwards. This can also be applied the other way round. So if you are sick on annual leave, then you can switch to sick pay until better.
It’s also acceptable to go on holiday when off work sick, so long as the reason you are off would not render you unfit to travel.
Accruing Holidays on Sick Leave
Even when you are on sick leave you still accrue holiday days as normal. Your employer cannot refuse to allow these days to build up. Long term sickness can sometimes mean holiday plans must be cancelled.
In this situation, employers must carry over a minimum of 4 weeks of unused holidays. Some employers will offer to carry more over depending on your holiday entitlements per annum. The carried over days must be used within 18 months.
Did You Know? Long Term Sickness Statistics
In the last 12 months, 1.4m working-age people had a total of 1.8m spells of LTSA. That’s 1 in 25 members of the workforce.Health in the workplace – patterns of sickness absence, employer support and employment retention. Published July 2019 by DWP.
Long Term Sick Pay After 28 Weeks – Financial Help
If you are nearing the end of your paid sick leave, don’t worry. Further help will be available. We’ll walk you through the process of what long term sick pay is available after 28 weeks.
The first thing that happens when sick pay runs out, is that your employer will issue you with form SSP1.
After the 28 weeks of SSP is exhausted, then your employer will issue you with a SSP1 Form. This form enables you to apply for extra financial help where applicable.
This form should also be given to employees who don’t qualify for SSP. This needs to be within 7 days of them being off work sick.
This form will help you claim for further benefits such as Employment and Support Allowance.
Employment Support Allowance
Employment Support Allowance (ESA) can help the self employed, employed, and the unemployed. The money can help towards household bills.
This benefit can also support you making the transition back into work after a leave of absence. For example, if you need to work part time to undertake a phased return to work.
You need to have made NI contributions over the past few years in order to be eligible for this scheme. There are certain schemes that cannot be used in conjunction with ESA such as job seeker’s allowance.
The amount you will receive on the ESA scheme will be dependent on a number of factors including your age and when you think you will be returning to work. During the assessment period (this is the time it takes for your claim to be assessed) then you will be paid at a rate of £61.05 per week for under 25s and £77.00 per week for over 25s.
See more about ESA on the UK GOV site.
Universal Credit will be replacing Tax Credits by 2024 and you can switch manually before this time or wait to be moved automatically.
Some people may be better off doing this sooner – you can see if this is the case by using the online calculator.
Find out about your entitlement to universal credit and claiming with a health condition or disability on the UK Gov website.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
This scheme is there to financially help people who struggle with normal daily routines and mobility.
PIP is currently in the process of replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA). As of June 2022, you will be eligible for between £24.45 and £156.90 per week.
PIP isn’t means tested so your income or any savings will not be taken into account when deciding your amount. It will be based on your own health restrictions and how long you expect to be off work for.
Find out more about PIP and how to claim on the UK Gov site.
In the event that your injury or illness that is keeping you off work, occured at work then you may be entitled to Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
Again, this scheme isn’t means tested so your income and savings won’t affect the amount you are entitled to.
Other help you can look into include:
- Self-Isolation Support Grants (Scotland and Wales)
- Adult Disability Payment (Scoland)
- Attendance Allowance
- Housing Benefits
- Support for Mortgage Interest
- Council Tax Reduction Schemes
Find out more about this workplace injury benefit on the UK Gov website.
Your Job After Sick Pay Runs Out
You might be concerned about what will happen to your job after sick pay runs out.
After sick pay runs out, there will be procedures that you are expected to follow. Despite your sick pay running out, you are still bound by all the terms of the contract between yourself and your employer. Sickness should continue to be reported in the agreed way.
On the employer’s side, communication should be ongoing throughout the sick leave. This will make sure that any concerns either side are dealt with.
A common thing that happens when sick pay runs out is a capability assessment. This looks at the ability of the employee to continue performing their role.
It might be the case that either (or both) parties feel things cannot continue as they are. Your contract will outline the expectations of you in your job and when illness prevents these being fulfilled long term, then a review may take place.
Highlighting the importance of continuing to follow company procedure, if expected sickness protocols aren’t followed by employees, then a disciplinary procedure may take place.
This may also be the case if attendance is poor over a period of time and leave is taken without permission.
Capability and Conduct
The 2 C’s an employer must look at when making a decision after sick pay runs out are conduct and capability.
The employer will look at how you have conducted yourself on sick leave. Have you followed the rules? Did you report your absences? They will also look at capability – are you still able to fulfil your job role as it stood at the time of starting employment?
The results of these will depend on many factors and how severe the illness or disability has become. An employer often won’t keep employees on indefinitely and sometimes it works out financially better for the employee to give notice and get financial help elsewhere.
The important thing during sick leave is to ensure the lines of communication are kept open on both sides. An open and honest working relationship is in the best interests of all concerned.