- All employees earning at least the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit, which is £118 per week gross (from 6 April 2019 - rising to £120 per week from 6 April 2020) are eligible for SSP for up to a maximum of 28 weeks. 'Employees' are defined as those liable for Class 1 NICs or those who would be liable if their income was high enough.
- For the tax year beginning 6 April 2019 statutory sick pay rate will be £94.25 a week and is set to increase to £95.85 per week from 6 April 2020 (see our ‘Statutory rates’ page for historic rates).
- Employers can opt out of SSP if they operate their own scheme (contractual sick pay). Payments must be at least equal to what would be received under the statutory provisions.
- Details of the contractual sick pay scheme must be included in employees' written particulars of employment or employees can be referred to other sources of information such as company handbooks.
- Employers operating their own arrangements must keep records of qualifying periods of sickness.
- Decisions on long-term ill-health absentees will have to comply with the Equality Act 2010.
- Employers are liable for the payment of SSP. Any payments are subject to PAYE, National Insurance and any other usual deductions.
- SSP is paid only from the fourth consecutive qualifying day of sickness. Absence from work from this day is known as a period of incapacity (PIW). A PIW is the period of time during which an employee is incapable of work.
- All days including weekends, holidays and days not normally worked are taken into account in calculating the PIW. A PIW which occurs within 56 days of a previous PIW will be linked, counting as one period of sickness.
- Employees with at least one month's continuous employment who are suspended from work on medical grounds are entitled to remuneration for up to a maximum of 26 weeks.
- Special rules apply to pregnant employees suspended from work on medical grounds.
Note: the Percentage Threshold Scheme, which allowed employers to recover some or all of the SSP paid to employees, has been abolished but employers have until the end of the tax year 2015-16 to reclaim SSP paid before the end of the tax year 2013-14.
Following recommendations made in the 2017 Taylor Review, the government has released a consultation looking at making changes to the current statutory sick pay (SSP) scheme.
These changes include removing the need for individuals to achieve the lower earnings level (currently set at £118 per week) before they become eligible for SSP and simplifying rules aorund qualifying days. To help provide more employees with support, the consultation is asking whether a right to request work(place) modification for those not covered by the duty to make reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010 will help encourage employers to take action to return employees to work.
The consultation closed in October 2019. More information can be found in our news article.
Following a proposal contained in the Good Work Plan, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released a consultation examining whether a single enforcement body should be introduced for employment rights and obligations.
A single enforcement body will look to carry out enforcement which is currently undertaken by others, including holiday pay, the minimum wage (currently enforced by HMRC) and agency worker rights (currently enforced by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate).
The consultation asks interested parties to submit their views on the remit and enforcement powers of this body, as well as asking whether it should carry out enforcement of statutory sick pay and unpaid tribunal awards. More information can be found in our news article.
The government announced on 4 March 2020 that emergency legislation would be introduced for the payment of statutory sick pay (SSP) to employees with the coronavirus. They will be entitled to receive SSP from day one, not day four, of their illness. It is not yet confirmed when this will come into force.
From 13 March 2020, all those who are advised to self-isolate due to the coronavirus outbreak are entitled to be paid SSP, provided they meet the other qualifications. Currently, this is expected to last for a period of eight months.
Employers are liable for the payment of statutory sick pay (SSP) to eligible employees. The current rate is £94.25 per week (from 6 April 2019 - see our ‘Statutory rates’ page for historic rates). SSP is calculated daily by dividing the weekly rate by the number of qualifying days.
From 13 March 2020, all those who are advised to self-isolate due to the coronavirus outbreak are entitled to be paid statutory sick pay. Please refer to our section on managing coronavirus at work for more details.
- individuals who have already received their full 28-week limit from a previous employer
- employees whose average weekly earnings over the relevant period are below the current lower level for National Insurance purposes - £118 per week (from 6 April 2019)
- those involved in a trade dispute, such as a strike or lockout
- employees working outside the UK and for whom the employer is not liable to pay Class 1 NICs
- pregnant women in the following situations:
- where a woman is entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA) she is not eligible to also receive SSP for the 39 weeks during which SMP or MA is payable
- a woman who is not entitled to SMP or MA (and who is not already receiving SSP) cannot be paid SSP for 18 weeks from the earlier of the following two dates:
- the beginning of the week in which her baby is born
- the beginning of the week in which she is off work because of pregnancy-related sickness (if this is within four weeks of her baby being due).
I run a small hotel. The housekeeping/cleaning staff are all employed on zero hours contracts and work different hours each week depending on how busy the hotel is. We pay £7 per hour and people tend to work between 6 and 30 hours per week. One of the cleaning staff has been off sick for the last two shifts, do I need to pay her sick pay?
The test here is not the number of hours worked, or the type of contract, but the earnings. At the rates you quote, an employee might earn between £42 and £210 per week. The point at which SSP must be paid is if an employee earns £116 or more per week, which is the point where they start to pay National Insurance. To calculate if the person is eligible, you need to look at their average earnings for the 8 weeks prior to the first day of sickness - if this exceeds £116 per week then they will be eligible for SSP. One other thing you need to do is to designate the employees’ qualifying days in a week – for example if you can call them in over any of the 7 days then this should be the period designated.
Our company services X ray equipment in hospitals. One of our technicians has just told us that she is pregnant and should not be working with such machinery. We don’t have any other work for her to do but do we need to find another role for her?
All employers must carry out a risk assessment for pregnant employees. If the result of this assessment is that there are aspects of their role that they cannot do for health reasons then the employer should attempt to redefine the role, for example by removing the risk areas, changing hours, or redeploying temporarily. If none of these are possible, then the employer may need to suspend the employee on the grounds of pregnancy. If she has been working for the employer for more than one month, and has not unreasonably refused alternative work, then she is entitled to full pay for 26 weeks (or until she starts maternity leave if sooner). The same rules also apply to women who have given birth within the last 6 months or who are still breast feeding.