Sick leave

You can claim statutory sick pay (SSP) if you are sick and unable to work and it can be paid for up to 28 weeks. As the name of this benefit suggests, it is a statutory entitlement if you cannot physically go to work.

Want to know more? Here’s everything you need to know about sickness benefits.



Who can claim it?

Most employees will get SSP, including part-time, agency and fixed-term contract workers.


When does SSP start from?

SSP is paid from the fourth day you are off sick.

However, if you have previously had a period of sick leave within the past two months, you should be able to claim SSP from the first day because it’s then counted as a single period of incapacity for work.


Can my employer make rules about sick pay entitlement?

If you're receiving SSP there are certain steps an employer is not allowed to take. They can't insist you phone in by a certain time of day and a medical certificate can't be requested until the eighth day of illness, for instance. The employer can, however, attach such rules to contractual sick pay.


Who pays it, how much do I get and when do I get it?

SSP should be paid by your employers in the same way as your standard wages and at the same time for the days an employee usually works – referred to as ‘qualifying days’.

Tax and national insurance is deducted and the weekly rate for SSP is a fixed amount of £87.55. You may get more than the fixed amount (£87.55) if your employer’s contract of employment states this.

Depending on your circumstances (if you do not qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance) you can also get income support on top of SSP.


How do I get it?

Your employer will usually give you a form to fill in for the first week that you are unable to work. Alternatively you could phone them explaining you’re sick or write a letter. It’s worth knowing that the date postmark on the letter is taken as the day you informed your employer so we do recommend phoning them.

You could also fill in form SC2, (an Employee’s Statement of Sickness) which you can pick up at the doctor’s surgery or download here.

After the first week of sickness, you should send in a doctor’s certificate to guarantee you get SSP.


What do I do if my claim is rejected?

If you do not tell your employer immediately that you are off sick, you could lose some, or all, of your sick pay unless you have a good reason.

If your employer withholds SSP and does not agree to SSP for any other reason, you can get in touch with the HM Revenue and Customs Statutory Payments Disputes Team. You can find their details here.

However, it’s worth seeking specialist advice before doing this as challenging your employer may adversely affect your job as well as your relationship with the company.


Change in circumstances

If there is any change in your circumstances (hopefully you get better!), this would affect your entitlement to SSP, so tell your employer straight away.


Am I entitled to see my sickness absence records?

Yes. Employers have always been required to keep records on sickness absence, but new legislation means you now have the right to see them. The Data Protection Act 1998 requires a company notifies the Data Protection Commissioner if it is processing personal data.

This applies to employees' personnel files, recruitment, health, attendance and disciplinary records and any other files compiled manually by management with or without authorisation.


What happens if this sickness affects my long-term health?

The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) has improved the legal rights of anyone who can't work due to long-term illness with it's definition of disability covering "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person's ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities".


How can my employer help to keep me healthy?

Health and safety regulations require employers to provide health surveillance as appropriate, such as checks from an occupational health nurse for those working with chemicals.

For exposure to other health risks, such as work-related upper limb disorders, there is no such requirement, although employers should arrange a working environment analysis for anyone at a permanent workstation. Some employers will also have benefits packages which include free services such as eye tests or physiotherapy treatments.


And another thing…

If your SSP has ended, or you don't qualify for it any more, your employer must fill in and give you a form SSP1.

This form explains why SSP has not been paid or why it is ending, as well as the last date of payment.
Form SSP1 is used to support a claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the longer-term benefit for those unable to work.

For more information about SSP click here.


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