Statutory Sick Pay
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is the legal minimum employers must pay to qualifying employees who are too ill to work. The rate of SSP is currently set at £86.70 per week. The rate increases yearly in accordance with the rate of inflation so it is important that employers know the current rate at the relevant time.
The employee must have been absent from work for 4 or more days consecutively (including non-working days) and this is paid to employees in the usual way their remuneration is paid (i.e. weekly, monthly). Employers can opt-out of SSP and have their own sick pay scheme, but this would have to be at a higher rate than the statutory minimum.
Who is entitled to it?
- Employees who pay National Insurance contributions are entitled to SSP. This includes new employees (as long as they have done some work for their employer), temps and agency workers.
- The employee must have been absent from work due to illness for 4 or more consecutive days, including non-working days and holidays. Therefore on the fourth day of sickness the liability of employers to pay SSP commences.
- Employees must earn at least £109 per week before tax deductions to qualify.
- Employees must inform you that they are sick before any deadline set by you for these circumstances, or within 7 days if no deadline has been set by you.
- The entitlement to receive statutory sick pay can last up to a maximum of 28 weeks.
Employers may still be required to pay SSP if the employee is outside the country on business (or on holiday) when they become unable to work due to sickness. Further, a ruling last year in the European court determined that an employee falling ill before or during annual leave could apply to convert this to SSP so that the paid leave could be taken at a later date. However, for this to apply the employee would still need to satisfy the above criteria for SSP.
There are a few exceptions to entitlement even if the above criteria are satisfied:
- Employees who have recently been in receipt of certain government benefits.
- Employees who are already in receipt of Statutory Maternity Pay.
- Employees who have already been paid 28 weeks SSP by you.
- Employees who have already taken 28 weeks SSP from a former employer within 8 weeks of then being employed by you and being off for four days or more requesting SSP.
If an employee does not qualify for SSP you must supply them with a SSP1 form within 7 days of their illness.
Employers are entitled to request evidence of illness (doctor’s sick note) after 7 days of the employee being absent. It is also common practice for employers to request a self-certificate from the employee for the first 4-7 days of absence and with the employees’ permission a medical report can be obtained after four weeks of their absence.
Employers may also be able to end SSP by filling out an SSP1 form which will allow the employee to seek Employment and Support Allowance instead.
How we can help
Work related stress is a common reason for long-term absence which can be very costly for large and small businesses. Some employers may want to consider using a system of recording employee absences so that they can better tackle the reasons for these absences and provide support for their staffs’ needs. It is important for employers to know their duties so that they can execute them properly and avoid liabilities from arising.
At John Carruthers Solicitors & Solicitor Advocates we are happy to provide any form ofemployment law advice tailored to your business needs including advice on SSP.