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How does Statutory Sick Pay work?

What is Statutory Sick Pay?

Statutory Sick Pay or SSP is the payment that is made by employers to employees who, after a defined period, are too sick to work. The current amount paid is £92.05, and this payment can be made for a period of up to 28 weeks.

Who is affected by Statutory Sick Pay?

Employees (apart from agricultural workers who have their own rules) who have been off work sick for 4 or more consecutive days qualify for SSP. It’s important to note that the 4 days needn’t necessarily be all work days – they can be a combination of work days, holidays, rest days or weekends.

According to the www.gov.uk website, the people affected by SSP are those who:

  • Are employees who have worked for their employer.
  • Have been ill for at least 4 consecutive days (as already mentioned, those days can include non-work days).
  • Earn at least £116 per week on average.
  • Have told their employer that they’re sick before their deadline or within 7 days in the absence of a deadline.

Who is NOT covered by SSP?

Anyone who has already received 28 weeks of Statutory Sick Pay will no longer qualify for further payments of this nature. Neither will anyone who is in receipt of Statutory Maternity Pay.

Equally, anyone who is in custody or on strike when they fell ill will not be covered. Thereafter, employees working outside of the European Union (for whom employers are not liable for their Class 1 National Insurance Contributions) or who were receiving Employment Support Allowance (ESA) at the time of falling sick would not be eligible either.

How does SSP work?

Informing the employer about illness

When an employee wants to claim Statutory Sick Pay, they must inform their employer in writing (if they ask for it) within the company’s deadline, or within 7 days if the company doesn’t have a deadline. They will then need to provide a fit note (or sick note) if they are off for more than 7 days.

Confirmation of illness

Fit notes can be provided by hospital doctors or GPs and inform the employer that the employee is either ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’.

From an employer’s point of view, the option ‘may be fit for work’ requires more attention. This situation means that the employee may be able to come back to work if conditions can be amended in a certain way. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to have discussions with your employee to see what can be done.

As an employer, it is important to retain a copy of the ‘fit note’ and retain it. The original should be retained by the employee. If self-certification is required, an employer can provide their own form.

Eligibility for a payment

Employers decide if they should pay SSP or not. Once they have done that, an employee can challenge a negative decision. In addition, an employer must make sure they pay the correct amount of SSP.

How payments are made

Statutory Sick Pay is paid by employers in the same way as wages. That’s to say, payments may be made on either a weekly or a monthly basis, with tax and National Insurance deducted at source.

SSP and holidays

Holiday entitlement continues to accrue while an employee is off work sick and may, in some instances, result in preventing the employee from being able to take their allocated holiday leave within the normal period. In this case, holidays that are unused due to illness can be carried forward to the following year. Employees who don’t qualify for sick pay can ask to use paid holiday instead of losing their income whilst ill.

Long-term sickness

Any employee who has been sick for 4 weeks or more is considered long-term sick. Dismissing an employee who is long-term sick is a possibility, but requires careful negotiation between the employer and employee.

What happens in the event of a dispute?

If there is a dispute between an employer and an employee over Statutory Sick Pay that cannot be resolved through discussion, then the case may be escalated to an employment tribunal.

What does Statutory Sick Pay mean for your business?

Statutory Sick Pay has numerous ramifications for your business. The most obvious issue is that if an employee is entitled to SSP, then they’re not in the workplace doing the job you hoped they would do for you. This means that periods of sickness are difficult for employers and employees alike.

When you run a business, irrespective of whether you have 3, 30 or 300 employees, when someone is unfit for work you need to make alternative arrangements to ensure that their job gets done. Periods of illness are disruptive for the smooth running of your business, but need to be treated respectfully, appropriately and within the guidelines set out. This means that as an employer you need to have a procedure in place for dealing with SSP. It also means that you need to know your obligations.

If there are disputes over Statutory Sick Pay, then you need to be in a position to carry out discussions with your employee and ideally, do all you can to avoid a tribunal. This means that you need to be constantly up to date regarding your obligations, and make sure your policies and procedures are intact.

Dealing with SSP on the face of it is straightforward enough. That said, when new or complex situations arise it can be tough. This, in addition to all the other things you have on your plate as a business owner, can make it incredibly difficult to know what to do for the best.

Where can you find out more?

One of the most trusted sources for information on Statutory Sick Pay is the GOV.UK website. By following this link, you will find a whole range of practical information to help you establish your situation regarding SSP.

What should you do if you need help?

If, despite checking on GOV.UK website, you’re still unsure about how to deal with a sick pay situation for an employee, you need to know that help is at hand. At Payplus we have teams of people who speak your language on hand to give you the advice you need to help you stay on the right side of the law and avoid employment tribunals.

All you need to do is reach out and let us help.

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