statutory sick pay

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is paid to employees or workers (who pay Class 1 National Insurance Contributions) who cannot work because of sickness. We examine the details here.

Those who are self-employed (and pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions) have no entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay, but may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance.

SSP is not paid for the first 3 days of your sickness (these are called ‘Waiting Days’), but after that you are paid SSP for the days that you normally work.

If your employer does not pay you SSP or you believe they are paying you an incorrect amount, and if you cannot sort this out with your employer, you can contact your local HM Revenue and Customs office who will help – details are here – you may also be able to make a claim for an ‘unlawful deduction of wages‘ through an Employment Tribunal.

We’ve also updated this article with information from the Budget of 11th March 2020 to deal with the Coronavirus situation:

Eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – The forthcoming COVID-19 Bill will:

  • temporarily allow SSP to be paid from the first day of sickness absence, rather than the fourth day, for people who have COVID-19 or have to self-isolate, in accordance with government guidelines.
  • Temporarily extend SSP to cover: individuals who are unable to work because they have been advised to self-isolate; and people caring for those within the same household who display COVID-19 symptoms and have been told to self-isolate.

Medical Evidence for SSP – The government has already issued guidance to employers, advising them to use their discretion not to require a GP fit note for COVID-19 related absences. The Budget announced that the government and the NHS will bring forward a temporary alternative to the fit note in the coming weeks which can be used for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. This system will enable people who are advised to self-isolate to obtain a notification via NHS111 which they can use as evidence for absence from work, where necessary. This notification would meet employers’ need for evidence, whilst taking pressure away from General Practices.

Support for those ineligible for SSP – The government recognises that self-employed people and employees below the Lower Earnings Limit are not entitled to SSP. The Government believes the best system of financial support for these people is the welfare system and, in particular, ‘new style’ Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit. The Budget announced further support by making it quicker and easier to receive benefits:

  • a ‘New style’ Employment and Support Allowance will be payable for people directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating according to government advice for from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth day
  • people will be able to claim Universal Credit and access advance payments where they are directly affected by COVID-19 (or self-isolating), without the current requirement to attend a jobcentre
  • for the duration of the outbreak, the requirements of the minimum income floor in Universal Credit will be temporarily relaxed for those directly affected by COVID-19 or self-isolating according to government advice for duration of the outbreak, ensuring self-employed claimants will be compensated for losses in income.

Support for businesses – Statutory Sick Pay – The government will support small and medium-sized businesses and employers to cope with the extra costs of paying COVID-19 related SSP by refunding eligible SSP costs. The eligibility criteria for the scheme are as follows:

  • this refund will be limited to two weeks per employee
  • employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. The size of an employer will be determined by the number of people they employed as of 28 February 2020
  • employers will be able to reclaim expenditure for any employee who has claimed SSP (according to the new eligibility criteria) as a result of COVID-19
  • employers should maintain records of staff absences, but should not require employees to provide a GP fit note
  • the eligible period for the scheme will commence from the day on which the regulations extending SSP to self-isolators come into force
  • while existing systems are not designed to facilitate such employer refunds for SSP, the government will work with employers over the coming months to set up a repayment mechanism for employers as soon as possible.