What you need to know about sick pay requirements

  1. Sick leave
    Nicola Mullineux

    Nicola Mullineux Contributor, Peninsula Business Services Full Member - Verified Business

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    When employees are sick for a period of time, employers may become liable to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) subject to a number of conditions which can be found below.

    The current rate for SSP is £88.45 per week and is payable for up to 28 weeks. The cause of the sickness or injury, whether self-inflicted or not, is irrelevant.

    The requirements which need to be satisfied in order for an employee to receive SSP are:

    1. Employee status

    An individual is entitled to SSP if they are classed as an employee for National Insurance purposes, meaning that they pay Class 1 NICs or they would if their income is high enough.

    This can therefore include people who are not employees in the normal employment law sense eg. agency workers. Further to that, they must have done some work for you; new starters who have not yet had their first day at work do not qualify for SSP.

    2. Four consecutive days’ sickness

    If an employee is sick for four or more consecutive days, including weekends, holidays or non-working days, then this sickness is called a “period of incapacity for work” (PIW).

    In order for an employee to be eligible for SSP, a PIW must be established before any payments are due. An exception to this rule is if the employee has had a period of sickness absence within the last right weeks and was receiving SSP. This is called a linked PIW and a new one does not need to be formed.  

    If an employee has been off sick for up to three days you do not need to take any action as the first three days are called ‘waiting days’. SSP becomes payable on the first ‘qualifying day’ after the waiting days. A qualifying day is a day which the employee would usually be required to work.

    3. Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) must be met

    The employee must meet the weekly LEL, which is currently £112 per week (reviewed each year) for the eight weeks immediately before the sickness absence or the whole working period if less than eight weeks.

    4. Notification requirements must be met

    It is for the employer to specify a timeframe and method of notification, and the employee has to comply with these. If you have not set a timeframe, the employee must tell you that they are sick within seven days.  

    If the sickness absence continues for more than seven days, then the employee must provide you with a fit note from their doctor that they are not fit for work. If they do, then you must continue to pay them SSP, however, if they do not you can cease the payments until such note is obtained.

    If an employee meets all the requirements, they qualify for SSP. You should start paying them from the fourth qualifying day which they are off. If an employee arrives at work and does even one minute of work, then that day is not to be counted as a sick day for which SSP is payable.

    If an employee is on sick leave during all of their qualifying days in one week (eg. all three if they only work three days a week), then they are still entitled to the whole £88.45 for the week.

    If they are only ill for some of their qualifying days and come back to work in the middle of the week, then they are only entitled to pay for the qualifying days they were off. For example, if they work five days a week and are off sick on two, then you should pay them SSP at a proportionately reduced amount according to the number of days they work.  Remember that the SSP sum is subject to tax and NI contributions. 

    If the employee’s sick leave continues beyond the maximum 28 week period then you can stop paying SSP. When SSP ceases, for whatever reason, you must provide them with a form SSP1 which details the reason that payment has stopped.