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Your employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they take time off due to illness. But how much is SSP? Find out more about the SSP rate and your responsibilities when staff are off sick.
An employee may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if they’re ill and can’t work. They need to have been off work for four or more days in a row (including non-working days).
The first three days are called ‘waiting days’ and you start paying SSP from the fourth ‘qualifying day’ (the day your employee is usually needed to work).
A day doesn’t count as a sick day if they've worked for more than a minute before they’ve gone home ill.
It’s important to note that employees are entitled to statutory annual leave while they’re off sick and they can take holiday while they’re on sick leave (no matter how long they’re off).
Meanwhile, you can’t force employees to take annual leave if they’re eligible for sick leave.
The SSP rate is the legal minimum employers can pay staff when they’re sick. However, you might have your own sick pay scheme, which lets you offer more than the standard SSP rate.
You should also record accurate details of your employee’s absence and their sick pay payments.
You use the weekly SSP rate to calculate how much SSP to pay your employees.
On 6 April 2022, the SSP rate increased from £96.35 a week to £99.35 a week.
From 6 April 2023, the SSP rate will rise to £109.40 a week.
The SSP rate is for up to 28 weeks of sick leave.
You can use a daily SSP rate if your employee isn’t off work for the whole week. The daily SSP rate depends on how many qualifying days your employee usually works and how many days they’re off sick.
You can see the daily SSP rate at gov.uk.
Gov.uk has a Statutory Sick Pay calculator you can use to work out how much to pay your employees who are off sick.
Employers pay SSP in the same way they pay monthly wages – on the normal payday, including tax and National Insurance deductions.
Gov.uk says that to qualify for SSP your employee should:
Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) says that agency, casual and zero-hour employees can get SSP if they meet the eligibility criteria.
As an employer, you can set a limit in which employees have to tell you they’re sick. If you don’t have one, it’s automatically set at seven days.
If the employee is late telling you they’re sick without good reason, you don’t have to pay SSP. For example if your limit is six days and the employee gives notice of their sickness after nine days, then you won’t need to pay them SSP for the three days over the limit.
Employers can ask for a fit note, commonly known as a sick note, if their employee is off work for more than seven days in a row (including non-working days).
A fit note must be issued by a healthcare professional, such as a:
There are some exceptions that could mean your employee isn’t eligible for sick pay. These include employees who’ve already had the maximum 28 weeks of SSP and employees who are getting Statutory Maternity Pay (there are different rules in this situation).
Other reasons employees may not be eligible for sick pay include:
Employees could also have ‘linked ’ periods of sickness if they’re ill regularly. Linked periods mean that SSP entitlement is used up gradually. These linked periods must last four or more days each and be eight weeks or less apart – so, if someone is off for four weeks and is ill again within 56 days of going back to work, they’ll have 24 weeks of SSP left.
But if a series of linked periods lasts more than three years, employees aren’t eligible for SSP.
Read more about SSP eligibility and the exceptions at gov.uk.
If your employee isn’t eligible for SSP or their SSP is ending, they might be able to claim other other benefits like Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). You need to send these employees form SSP1 so they can claim these benefits.
For employees who aren’t entitled to SSP, you have to send them SSP1 within seven days of them taking time off sick.
If an employee is receiving SSP but their situation changes and they no longer qualify, you have to send them SSP1 within seven days of their sick pay ending. If their SSP is going to end before their illness does, you have to send them SSP1 on or before the beginning of the 23rd week of sick pay.
Is there anything more you’d like to know about Statutory Sick Pay and the SSP rate? Let us know in the comments below.
Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.
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