Sickness: Your Rights

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.

Last Updated on 25 May 2021

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