Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): employer guide

1. Overview

Your employees may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which is £87.55 a week for up to 28 weeks.

You can offer more if you have a company sick pay scheme (you can’t offer less). Company schemes are also called ‘contractual’ or ‘occupational’ sick pay and must be included in an employment contract.

Holiday (or ‘annual leave’)

Statutory annual leave is accrued while the employee is off work sick (no matter how long they’re off) and can be taken during sick leave.

2. Entitlement

The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £87.55 for up to 28 weeks. It is paid:

  • for the days an employee normally works - called ‘qualifying days’
  • in the same way as wages, eg on the normal payday, deducting tax and National insurance

Use the SSP calculator to work out the actual amount, eg for a daily rate.

Some employment types like agency workers, directors and educational workers have different rules for entitlement. You may still have to pay SSP even if you stop trading.

When to start paying SSP

SSP is paid when the employee is sick for 4 days in a row (including non-working days). You start paying SSP from the fourth day (if they normally work that day).

You can’t count a day as a sick day if an employee has worked for a minute or more before they go home sick.

If an employee works a shift that ends the day after it started and becomes sick during the shift or after it has finished, the second day will count as a sick day.

Exception

You don’t usually pay SSP for the first 3 qualifying days unless they’ve been off sick and getting SSP within the last 8 weeks.

When to stop paying SSP

Usually SSP stops when the employee comes back to work or no longer qualifies.

Record keeping

You must keep records for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), including:

  • all sickness periods lasting at least 4 days
  • your SSP payments
  • any weeks you didn’t pay and why

Use form SSP2 for this.

Keep all records for 3 years from the end of the tax year they relate to.

3. Eligibility and form SSP1

To qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) employees must:

  • have an employment contract
  • have done some work under their contract
  • have been sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non-working days) - known as a ‘period of incapacity for work’
  • earn at least £111 a week
  • give you the correct notice
  • give you proof of their illness, only after 7 days off

Employees who have been paid less than 8 weeks of earnings still qualify for SSP. Use the sick pay calculator to work out how much to pay them.

Employees can qualify for sick pay from more than one job.

They could also qualify in one job but be fit for work in another, eg if one job is physical work that they can’t do while ill but the other is office-based.

Exceptions

Employees don’t qualify for SSP if they:

  • have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks)
  • are getting Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance - there are special rules for pregnant women and new mothers who don’t get these payments
  • are off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that their baby is due
  • have taken 3 years or more ‘linked periods’ of sickness - where 4 or more days of sickness happen within 8 weeks of each other
  • were in custody or on strike on the first day of sickness (including any linked periods)
  • are working outside the EU and you’re not liable for their National Insurance contributions
  • received Employment Support Allowance within 12 weeks of starting or returning to work for you

Use the SSP calculator to check eligibility.

Form SSP1

You must send an employee form SSP1:

  • within 7 days of them going off sick, if they don’t qualify for SSP
  • within 7 days of their SSP ending, if it ends unexpectedly while they’re still sick
  • on or before the beginning of the 23rd week, if their SSP is expected to end before their sickness does

They can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead.

If your employee thinks this is unfair, they can appeal to HMRC - the form tells them how to do this.

Long-term illness

You can complete form SSP1 before the end of SSP if you know an employee will be off sick for more than 28 weeks. This means they can apply for ESA before their SSP comes to an end.

4. Notice and fit notes

Notice

The employee should tell you they’re sick within your own time limit (or 7 days if you don’t have one). You don’t have to pay Statutory Sick Pay if they don’t meet these time limits.

You can’t insist notice is given in person or on a special form.

Fit notes and asking for proof

After 7 days off sick you can ask the employee for a fit note from their doctor. This used to be called a sick note.

You can’t withhold SSP if the employee is late sending you a fit note.

If your employee is off sick frequently or for a long time, HMRC has information about getting medical advice.

5. Help with sick pay

Reclaiming Statutory Sick Pay

You can’t reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sick leave after 5 April 2014.

You may be able to reclaim SSP for a previous tax year if a high proportion of your employees were off sick at the same time. You can reclaim the difference if SSP was more than 13% of your Class 1 National Insurance in a tax month.

How to reclaim

Calculate how much you’ll get back using your payroll software. How you reclaim the payments depends on how you reported payroll in the relevant tax year.

If you were reporting payroll information in real time (RTI), include the amount you’re reclaiming in an Employer Payment Summary (EPS).

Otherwise, you should complete and return an SP32 form to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

If you’re insolvent

HMRC will pay SSP for any employee who continues to work for you if they were sick when you became insolvent. Tell your employee to contact the Statutory Payment Disputes Team.

Statutory Payment Disputes Team
Telephone: 03000 560 630
Find out about call charges.

If their sickness continues and you terminate their contract, give them a completed SSP1 form so they can claim Employment Support Allowance instead.

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Source: gov.uk