Statutory sick pay – an employer’s guide

Entitlement

The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £94.25 for up to 28 weeks. It is paid:

  • for the days an employee normally works – called ‘qualifying days’
  • in the same way as wages, for example on the normal payday, deducting tax and National insurance

Some employment types like agency workers, directors and educational workers have different rules for entitlement.

Directors can decide what remuneration to pay and when. There’s no need for a resolution of the company’s shareholders at its Annual General Meeting (AGM). In such cases payment of director’s fees are regarded as earnings for the purpose of entitlement to SSP on the date payment was made.

You may still have to pay SSP even if you stop trading.

You cannot force your employees to take annual leave when they’re eligible for sick leave.

When to start paying SSP

Emergency legislation is being brought forward for employees who are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19). They will be able to get SSP from the first day they are off work. This will begin from 13 March.

SSP is paid when the employee is sick for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days). You start paying SSP from the fourth ‘qualifying day’ (day an employee is normally required to work). The first 3 qualifying days are called ‘waiting days’.

You cannot count a day as a sick day if an employee has worked for a minute or more before they go home sick.

If an employee works a shift that ends the day after it started and becomes sick during the shift or after it has finished, the second day will count as a sick day.

Exception

You do not usually pay SSP for the first 3 qualifying days unless they’ve been off sick and getting SSP within the last 8 weeks.

When to stop paying SSP

SSP stops when the employee comes back to work or no longer qualifies.

Record keeping

You do not need to keep records of SSP paid.

You can choose how you keep records of your employees’ sickness absence. HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.

Help with sick pay

Reclaiming Statutory Sick Pay

You cannot reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for sick leave any more.

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the cost of providing 14 days of Statutory Sick Pay per employee will be refunded by the government in full. This will provide 2 million businesses with up to £2 billion to cover the costs of large-scale sick leave.