Statutory Sick Pay is often a great cause of confusion for both employees and employers. However what exactly are the responsibilities of each party? What is each entitled to?

When an employee is entitled

Eligibility

Before an employee is entitled to claim SSP they must first meet the criteria specified on HMRC online.

https://www.gov.uk/employers-sick-pay/entitlement

Main points of confusion or questions

  • An employee must be off sick for 4 or more days in a row. This period relates to “Calendar” days, they do not have to have been off sick for 4 “Working” days to be eligible.
EXAMPLE
Monday Working day Calendar day
Tuesday Working day Calendar day
Wednesday Working day Calendar day
Thursday Working day Calendar day
Friday Working day Calendar day
Saturday Calendar day
Sunday Calendar day
  • Giving you the correct notice. If a staff member’s sickness period is less than 7 days they won’t need to provide proof of their illness – they will simply need to let the employer know within a reasonable time period. After the 7 day window, they will be required to provide “proof” of illness to the employer; such as a doctor’s note.

How payments work

Providing an employee is eligible they will be entitled to claim SSP for a total of 28 weeks This is a cost to the employer and is no longer recoverable against PAYE/NICs payments as in previous tax years.

The first 3 “working” days of sickness are unpaid – these are known as “waiting days”. SSP payments begin from day 4 and are calculated at the day rate equivalent of the weekly allowance.

Remember: An employee must be off sick for 4 or more “calendar” days in a row to be eligible. However for an employee’s “waiting days” the first 3 “working days” will be unpaid.

EXAMPLE
Monday Working day Calendar day
Tuesday Working day Calendar day
Wednesday Working day Calendar day
Thursday Working day Calendar day
Friday Working day Calendar day
Saturday Calendar day
Sunday Calendar day
  • Your staff is still entitled to their holiday allowance during SSP periods
  • “Waiting days” may only apply once during a 28 week sickness period (even if an employee returns to work between sickness periods); providing the second Period of Incapacity to Work (PIW) is less than 8 weeks (56 days) apart from the first. If these are further apart then an employee will be subject to have “waiting days” applied to both periods of sickness.

If an employee works part-time alongside a period of sickness within the company they should be paid their SSP on any full days taken off sick (provided they remain eligible) and their remaining hours should be paid at the usual pay rate.

 

Long-term sickness

If one of your staff members is off sick for 4 weeks or more they may be classed as “long-term” sick. These employees are entitled to be referred to a “Fit for Work” scheme.

As a last resort, employers can dismiss an employee who is long-term sick but before they can do this the employers must:

  • Consider if an employee can return to work. Whether it’s working flexibly or part-time
  • Consult with employees about when they could return to work and if their health will improve

It is important for the employer to keep records of any correspondence relating to Statutory Sick Pay, as an employee may be eligible to claim for unfair dismissal. Therefore it is essential an employer follows the correct protocol and behaves in a responsible manner.

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