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Understanding Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) - A Complete Guide


In the United Kingdom, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a vital component of the social security system, providing financial support to eligible employees who are unable to work due to illness. This article delves into the specifics of SSP, including eligibility criteria, the calculation of payment, and the process of claiming the benefit.


Understanding Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)


What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Statutory Sick Pay is a form of financial assistance provided by the UK government to eligible employees who are temporarily unable to work due to illness. The purpose of SSP is to help individuals maintain a basic level of income during their period of sickness, thus reducing financial stress and promoting recovery. Employers are responsible for paying SSP to qualified employees, and the government sets the minimum rate.


Eligibility Criteria


Not everyone is entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK. To qualify for SSP, employees must meet the following criteria:


  • Employment status: The individual must be classified as an employee, as opposed to a worker, contractor, or self-employed individual.

  • Earnings Threshold: For the tax year 2023 to 2024, the employee must earn an average of at least £123 per week before tax, known as the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL).

  • Illness Duration: The employee must be sick for at least four consecutive days, including non-working days, which is considered a "Period of Incapacity for Work" (PIW).

  • Notification: The employee must inform their employer of their sickness within the employer's specified timeframe or within seven days if no timeframe is set.

  • Medical Evidence: If the sickness lasts for more than seven days, the employee must provide a medical certificate, known as a "fit note," from a doctor or authorized healthcare professional.


Exceptions

Certain exceptions apply to SSP eligibility, including:


  • Employees who have received the maximum amount of SSP, which is 28 weeks within an eight-month period.

  • Employees who are in receipt of certain benefits, such as Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance, or Employment and Support Allowance.

  • Workers on strike or suspended from work.

  • Employees in custody or on unpaid leave.


What Are The Pros and Cons of a Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) For an Employee?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK is a financial support system provided by the government and paid by employers to eligible employees who are temporarily unable to work due to illness. Like any system, SSP has its pros and cons.


Pros of Statutory Sick Pay:


  • Financial support: SSP provides a basic level of income to employees during periods of sickness, reducing financial stress and allowing them to focus on recovery.

  • Encourages recovery: By offering financial support, SSP allows employees to take the necessary time off work to recover without worrying about losing their entire income.

  • Universality: As a statutory benefit, SSP is available to most employees across various sectors, ensuring that the majority of the workforce has access to financial support during sickness.

  • Employer responsibility: Since employers are responsible for paying SSP, it encourages them to prioritize employee health and well-being and to develop supportive sick leave policies.

  • Reduced presenteeism: SSP can help reduce presenteeism, the practice of employees coming to work while ill, which can lower productivity and spread illness to coworkers.


Cons of Statutory Sick Pay:


  • Limited coverage: SSP is only available to employees, excluding workers, contractors, and self-employed individuals who might also require financial support during sickness.

  • Earnings threshold: Employees must meet the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) of £123 per week before tax to qualify for SSP, which excludes some low-income and part-time workers from receiving support.

  • Insufficient income replacement: The minimum SSP rate (£109.40 per week as of April 2023) might not be sufficient to cover an employee's living expenses, which could create a financial strain for those with limited savings or support networks.

  • Duration limitations: SSP is only paid for a maximum of 28 weeks within an eight-month period, which might not be sufficient for those with long-term health conditions or disabilities.

  • Potential for abuse: Some employees might attempt to take advantage of the SSP system by claiming to be ill when they are not, which can strain employer resources and create an atmosphere of mistrust.


Overall, SSP serves as a vital financial support system for eligible employees in the UK during periods of illness. While it offers several benefits, there are limitations that can impact the effectiveness and reach of the system.


What Are The Pros and Cons of a Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) For an Employer?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a financial support system provided by the UK government and paid by employers to eligible employees who are temporarily unable to work due to illness. Employers, like employees, experience both pros and cons with SSP.


Pros of Statutory Sick Pay for Employers:


  • Employee well-being: By providing SSP, employers can demonstrate their commitment to employee health and well-being, which may result in increased job satisfaction, loyalty, and positive work culture.

  • Reduced presenteeism: SSP encourages employees to stay home when sick, reducing the risk of spreading illness in the workplace and lowering the potential impact on productivity and staff morale.

  • Legal compliance: Providing SSP ensures that employers adhere to their legal obligations, reducing the risk of penalties, fines, or legal action.

  • Standardized system: The government sets the minimum SSP rate, providing a clear and standardized system for employers to follow when dealing with employee sickness.

  • Better recovery: When employees can take time off to recover without the fear of losing their income, they are more likely to return to work in better health, which can boost productivity and performance.


Cons of Statutory Sick Pay for Employers:


  • Financial burden: Employers bear the cost of SSP, which can strain their financial resources, especially for small businesses or those with a high rate of employee absenteeism due to illness.

  • Administrative complexity: Managing SSP payments, including tracking employee eligibility, sickness periods, and payment amounts, can be administratively complex and time-consuming.

  • Staff shortages: When employees take sick leave and receive SSP, employers may face temporary staff shortages, which can impact productivity and increase the workload for other employees.

  • Potential abuse: Some employees may attempt to take advantage of the SSP system, claiming to be ill when they are not, which can strain employer resources and create an atmosphere of mistrust.

  • Additional costs: Employers may incur additional costs to cover absent employees, such as hiring temporary staff, paying overtime to exist staff, or investing in employee health and well-being initiatives to reduce sickness absence.


In summary, SSP offers several benefits for employers, such as promoting employee well-being and reducing presenteeism. However, it also comes with potential drawbacks, such as financial burdens and administrative complexities. Employers must balance these pros and cons while ensuring compliance with their legal obligations and promoting a healthy work environment.


Calculating SSP Payment

As of 6th April 2023, the minimum SSP rate is £109.40 per week. Employees may receive more if their employer offers a company sick pay scheme. Payments are typically made in the same manner as regular wages, with deductions for tax and National Insurance.


SSP is paid for a maximum of 28 weeks within an eight-month period, which is known as a "linked period." Two or more periods of sickness are considered linked if they are separated by eight weeks or fewer.


How Many Days Can You Self-Certify for Sickness UK?

In the UK, employees can self-certify their sickness for up to seven days, including non-working days. If your sickness extends beyond seven days, you must obtain a medical certificate or "fit note" from a doctor or authorized healthcare professional to provide to your employer.


How Long Can You Be On Sick Leave Before Dismissal?

In the UK, there is no specific timeframe after which an employer can dismiss an employee on sick leave. The duration of sick leave that an employer will tolerate before considering dismissal varies depending on factors such as the employee's role, the nature of their illness, and the employer's policies and procedures.


Employers must follow a fair process before dismissing an employee on long-term sick leave. This typically involves:


  • Regular communication with the employee to assess their condition and obtain updates on their expected return-to-work date.

  • Obtaining medical evidence or seeking a professional medical opinion to understand the employee's prognosis and the likelihood of their return to work.

  • Considering reasonable adjustments or accommodations to help the employee return to work, such as offering alternative duties or flexible working arrangements.

  • Assessing the impact of the employee's absence on the business and whether it is sustainable in the long term.

  • It is essential for employers to follow a fair and transparent process, adhering to their own policies, the ACAS Code of Practice, and the Equality Act 2010 (in cases involving disability), to avoid potential claims of unfair dismissal or discrimination.


Is It Illegal to Work While On Sick Leave in the UK?

In the UK, working while on sick leave is not explicitly illegal, but it could breach the terms of your employment contract or your employer's policies. If you work while on sick leave without your employer's knowledge or permission, it may be considered dishonest or fraudulent behavior. This could lead to disciplinary action, including potential dismissal, depending on your employer's policies and the specifics of your situation.


If you feel well enough to work while on sick leave or wish to return to work earlier than anticipated, it is best to communicate with your employer and discuss your options. Your employer may require you to provide a medical certificate or "fit note" indicating that you are fit to resume work, especially if your initial sick leave was supported by a fit note. It is essential to prioritize your health and recovery, and not to return to work prematurely, as doing so may prolong your illness or lead to further health complications.


Can You Go On Holiday Whilst On Sick Leave?

In the UK, going on holiday while on sick leave is not explicitly prohibited. However, it is essential to consider the reasons for your sick leave and the potential implications of going on holiday during this time.


Before going on holiday, it is advisable to discuss your plans with your employer. They may have policies in place regarding holidays during sick leave, and failing to inform them could lead to disciplinary action or damage your relationship with your employer.


Your employer may also have concerns about whether your holiday could impact your recovery or if it contradicts the reasons for your sick leave. For example, if you are on sick leave due to work-related stress, a holiday may be seen as beneficial for your recovery. Conversely, if you are on sick leave due to a physical injury or illness, your employer may question whether a holiday is appropriate.


Claiming SSP

When an employee meets the eligibility criteria and has notified their employer of their sickness, the employer should begin paying SSP. Employers may use a government-approved SSP calculator to determine the exact amount and duration of payment. Employees do not need to submit a separate claim for SSP.


If an employer refuses to pay SSP or disputes an employee's eligibility, the employee can contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) statutory payment dispute team for assistance. The team will help the employee and employer resolve the issue and ensure that the correct payment is made.


How to Apply for Sick Pay (SSP)


How to Apply for Sick Pay (SSP)


A Step-by-Step Guide to Applying for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK


Navigating the process of applying for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK can be daunting, especially when dealing with the stress of illness. This article simplifies the process by providing a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to apply for SSP, ensuring that eligible employees receive the financial support they need during periods of sickness.


Step 1: Understanding SSP Eligibility Criteria

Before applying for SSP, it is crucial to determine if you are eligible. To qualify for SSP, you must meet the following requirements:


  • Be classified as an employee, not a worker, contractor, or self-employed individual.

  • Earn an average of at least £123 per week before tax, known as the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL).

  • Be sick for at least four consecutive days, including non-working days, which is considered a "Period of Incapacity for Work" (PIW).

  • Inform your employer of your sickness within their specified timeframe or within seven days if no timeframe is set.

  • Provide a medical certificate, known as a "fit note," if your sickness lasts for more than seven days.


Step 2: Notifying Your Employer

Once you have determined your eligibility, promptly notify your employer of your sickness. This can be done verbally or in writing, depending on your employer's preference. Be sure to mention the date your sickness began, the nature of your illness, and an estimated duration if possible. It is essential to adhere to your employer's notification requirements or, if none are provided, to inform them within seven days of your first day of sickness.


Step 3: Obtaining a Fit Note (if necessary)

If your sickness extends beyond seven days, you must obtain a medical certificate or "fit note" from a doctor or authorized healthcare professional. The fit note will include details about your condition and any adjustments or accommodations you may need upon returning to work. Provide a copy of your fit note to your employer as soon as possible to ensure your SSP payments continue.


Step 4: Tracking Your Sickness Period

Keep track of the days you are unable to work due to illness. This information is crucial for calculating your SSP payment and determining the maximum payment duration. Remember that SSP covers a maximum of 28 weeks within an eight-month period, known as a "linked period." Two or more periods of sickness are considered linked if they are separated by eight weeks or fewer.


Step 5: Receiving SSP Payments

Once you have met the eligibility criteria, notified your employer, and provided a fit note (if required), your employer should begin paying SSP. Payments are typically made in the same manner as regular wages, with deductions for tax and National Insurance. As of April 2023, the minimum SSP rate is £109.40, although your employer may offer a more generous company sick pay scheme.


Step 6: Communicating with Your Employer

Maintain open communication with your employer throughout your sickness period. Update them on any changes in your condition or anticipated return-to-work date. This communication is crucial for ensuring a smooth transition back to work and for maintaining a positive relationship with your employer.


Step 7: Resolving Disputes (if necessary)

If your employer disputes your eligibility for SSP or refuses to pay the benefit, you can contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) statutory payment dispute team for assistance. They will help you and your employer resolve the issue and ensure that the correct payment is made.


Applying for Statutory Sick Pay in the UK may seem complicated, but by following this step-by-step guide, you can navigate the process with ease.


What is ESA and When can I claim ESA in the UK?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is a UK government benefit designed to provide financial support to individuals who have a disability or health condition that affects their ability to work. ESA is intended to help cover living expenses for those who are unable to work or need assistance in finding suitable employment.


You may be eligible to claim ESA if you meet the following criteria:


  1. You have a disability or health condition that significantly impacts your ability to work.

  2. You are aged 16 or over and under the State Pension age.

  3. You are not currently receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

  4. You have made sufficient National Insurance contributions or have a low income (depending on whether you're applying for contribution-based ESA or income-related ESA, respectively).

  5. To claim ESA, you need to complete an application, which includes providing medical evidence of your disability or health condition, such as a fit note from your doctor. Once your application is submitted, you may be asked to attend a Work Capability Assessment (WCA), which evaluates your ability to work and determines the level of support you may need.


If you are deemed eligible for ESA, you will be placed into one of two groups:


Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG): This group includes individuals who are deemed capable of working with appropriate support. Those in this group receive a lower rate of ESA and are required to participate in work-related activities to help them prepare for employment.


Support Group: This group consists of individuals with severe disabilities or health conditions that significantly limit their ability to work. Those in this group receive a higher rate of ESA and are not required to participate in work-related activities.

It is essential to note that ESA is being replaced by Universal Credit, a newer benefit that consolidates various existing benefits, including ESA, into a single monthly payment. If you are applying for the first time, you might be required to apply for Universal Credit instead, depending on your location and circumstances.


What Happens If an Employer Refuses to Give Statutory Sick Pay to an Employee


What Happens If an Employer Refuses to Give Statutory Sick Pay to an Employee?

If an employer in the UK refuses to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to an eligible employee, the employee can take several steps to address the issue and seek the payment they are entitled to:


  • Communicate With The Employer: The employee should first discuss the issue with their employer to ensure there has been no misunderstanding or oversight. This conversation might clear up any confusion or provide further information about the employer's decision.

  • Seek Clarification: If the employer maintains that the employee is not eligible for SSP, the employee should request a written explanation, known as an SSP1 form. This form should detail the reasons for the employer's decision, which the employee can use to understand the basis of the refusal and potentially challenge it.

  • Contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC): If the employee believes they are entitled to SSP and their employer is refusing to pay, they can contact HMRC's Statutory Payment Disputes Team for help. HMRC can investigate the situation and determine whether the employee is eligible for SSP. If HMRC finds the employee is entitled to SSP, they can order the employer to pay the outstanding amount.

  • Seek Legal Advice: If the issue remains unresolved, the employee may consider seeking legal advice to explore their options, which could include pursuing a claim through an employment tribunal or the civil courts.


It is essential for employees to understand their rights and entitlements under UK law and take the necessary steps to address any discrepancies or issues regarding Statutory Sick Pay.


Conclusion

Statutory Sick Pay plays a critical role in the UK's social security system, offering financial support to eligible employees during times of illness. By understanding the eligibility criteria, payment calculation, and claim process, employees can better navigate the complexities of SSP and access the support they need during periods of sickness. Employers should familiarize themselves with the rules surrounding SSP to ensure compliance and to support their employees' health and well-being.

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