It’s very hard sometimes to keep up with all the legal implications of running a business. That’s why helping business owners with their contracts of employment and Statutory Sick Pay policies keeps me busy…
So here’s a quick and brief summary for you on Statutory Sick Pay and who is entitled to it and when.
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – The Basics
Every employee who has an employment contract is entitled to SSP but there are some exceptions:
- If someone has signed a contract but actually hasn’t started work yet they are not entitled to SSP.
- If someone has already claimed 28 weeks of SSP within a period of 56 days of the new absence they wouldn’t be entitled to SSP.
- People who are earning less than the present Lower Earnings Limit (which is £116 per week) aren’t entitled to SSP.
- If your employee is in prison or on remand or in custody, then they are not entitled to SSP
“Do I have to pay my employees when they are off ill?”
The short answer is; Yes.
If an employee is too sick to do their work then you are legally responsible to pay them SSP. Some employers pay more than the law requires, but all employers must at least pay the minimum.
“My employee didn’t tell me they were sick – do I have to pay them SSP?”
You should have documentation that tells your employees when they should let you know they are unwell or ill and what evidence they need to provide, (e.g. doctor’s note). This should be in your staff contracts and handbooks. If someone doesn’t do what your policy requires them to do, then they may lose out on the SSP.
“How much do I have to pay for SSP?”
Currently it’s £92.05 per week.
It doesn’t matter if your staff member only works one day a week. If they are off sick for a week, even if they only work one or two days, you pay the full amount. (But please note the “Waiting Days” explanation below).
“I have read about “Waiting Days”. Can I wait for a while before I pay?”
Legally speaking the “Waiting Days” name is given to the 3 days that elapse before SSP starts becoming payable. In effect, SSP is paid from the 4th day of the Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW).
Often employers count all working days as qualifying days. Now, where it becomes tricky is when you have part-time staff. For example, if someone only works one day a week, they’ll have to be sick for three weeks before SSP kicks in, whereas a full-timer will qualify on the 4th day they are off work.
“I have someone who has been absent twice recently. What are the rules?”
If someone has two PIW within a short period of fifty-six days then the three waiting days have been considered to have been served after the first period of illness. The two illness periods don’t have to be for the same thing. The second absence is what’s known as “a linking period” and it does qualify as a PIW when it is four days or more (which includes non-working days). Just one day of absence is therefore not a PIW and SSP isn’t payable in this instance.
“I have someone off long-term sick, what’s the maximum I pay them SSP?”
SSP is paid for a maximum period of twenty-eight weeks. If someone is off sick for this whole period and then comes back to work, then they must be in work for at least fifty-six days before a new period of twenty-eight weeks starts.
“What proof can I ask for to prove someone is sick?”
This is quite simple. An employee can self-certify their illness for the first seven days. If it goes beyond seven days, they must get a medical certificate from their doctor, outline the nature of their illness and this will often say how long the certificate is for.
“Can I claim any SSP back from the Government?”
Unfortunately, SSP is not something you can get any help with. It’s worth noting that SSP is a minimum, and you may want to pay more than this. You should make sure that this is clearly indicated in any employment contract and handbook.