What is Statutory Sick Pay?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is money that is payable to an employee who can show that he or she is unable to work for you, for a period of time, due to illness.

The purpose of this information sheet is to provide basic information about Statutory Sick Pay. For more detailed help, you should contact Centre for Independent Living NI or the HMRC New Employers Helpline 0300 200 3211.

Who can get Statutory Sick Pay?

SSP can be paid to employees who fulfill the following criteria:

  • He or she works part-time or full time for you
  • Your employee is absent due to illness for at least 4 calendar days in a row. This is known as a Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW)
  • Your employee's average weekly earnings must be at least at the Lower Earnings Limit (the current rate is £112 per week) in the relevant period before he or she was unable to work

Your employee does not need to have made any National Insurance Contributions to be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.

You are not required but are entitled to ask for reasonable evidence of your employee's inability to work. After the first 7 days of sickness, you may ask your employee to produce a doctor's certificate.

What are Qualifying Days?

SSP is only paid for days that are ‘Qualifying Days'. Qualifying Days are usually the days of the week that your employee normally works.

  • All days of sickness count towards the 4 Qualifying Days including weekends, holidays and any other days that your employee would normally work .Employees who are sick for 3 calendar days or less, will not qualify for SSP and you do not need to record them for this purpose.
  • Statutory Sick Pay, like normal earnings, may incur Tax and National Insurance Deductions.

Any two PIWs that are separated by eight weeks (56 days) or less ‘link' and are treated as one PIW. A PIW must always be formed before there is a link; that is your employee must be sick for at least another 4 days in a row. Odd days of sickness do not form a PIW and therefore cannot link.

Statutory Sick Pay tables to help you check if Periods of Incapacity for Work link are available from HM Revenue and Customs.

If your employee has been sick for 4 consecutive days and is not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay and he or she is still sick, you should issue a form SSP1. If a PIW links and you issued a form SSP1 for the previous PIW, you should issue another SSP1.

If PIWs link and you paid Statutory Sick Pay last time and it is unnecessary for your employee to serve waiting days in the linked PIW, you should pay for all Qualifying Days.

If two or more Periods of Incapacity for Work link, it is your responsibility to check whether or not any waiting days have already been served. Waiting days are only served once and you should ignore any waiting days served with a previous employer.

It is important to remember, when working out PIWs, weeks start on Sundays and end on Saturdays.

When should I pay Statutory Sick Pay?

You should pay Statutory Sick Pay on the day that your employee would normally be paid.

What method of payment should I use?

You should pay SSP in exactly the same way you would normally pay your employee(s). If your employee is normally paid in person, you may wish to send him or her a cheque.

How do I work out how much to pay?

The amount of Statutory Sick Pay due to employees is set by the Government and depends on the length of time your employee is unable to work due to illness. It is paid at a weekly or daily rate, depending on the length of absence.

  • The weekly rate for this tax year (2015-2016) is £88.45
  • The daily rate is calculated by dividing the weekly rate by the number of Qualifying Days that are used in a week

How long do I pay Statutory Sick Pay for?

You can pay SSP for up to 28 weeks in either a single or linked PIW unless there is a change of circumstances, such as your employee being no longer ill, leaving, or is pregnant and entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay.

Can I claim Statutory Sick Pay back?

Since April 2014 employers are no longer able to claim back SSP from HMRC.

Statutory Maternity Pay

Female employees who qualify can get a maximum of 39 weeks Statutory Maternity Pay.

For the first 6 weeks your employee will be entitled to 90% of her weekly earnings. In the remaining 33 weeks she should be paid £139.58 per week or 90% of her average weekly earnings if this is less than £139.8.5

To meet the qualifying conditions, the employee must:

  • Have average weekly earnings that are higher than the lower earnings limit for National Insurance Contributions. For 2014-2015 the lower earnings limit is £112 per week.
  • Have been constantly employed by you for at least six months when the baby is due.
  • Still be pregnant at the eleventh week before her baby is expected.
  • Have stopped working for you.

Statutory Maternity Pay covers 39 weeks. Your pregnant employee is entitled to receive SMP for that period, regardless of whether or not she intends to return to work for you.

You will probably be able to claim the Statutory Maternity Pay back in full under a scheme called the Small Employer Relief scheme because your National Insurance Contributions are unlikely to exceed £20,000.

You get the money back by deducting Statutory Maternity Pay paid from your monthly/quarterly payment of National Insurance Contributions. If you need to get the money back quickly, for example, to allow you to be able to pay for someone else to cover while your worker is on Maternity Leave, you should contact the Accounts Office at HM Revenue and Customs. The contact details are printed on the front cover of your yellow paying in book.

You should tell them

  • How much Statutory Maternity Pay you paid.
  • The amount you are entitled to recover, including compensation (4.5% of the amount you paid).
  • That you need them to pay that amount because you need it for covering staff.

You can get more information on pay and time off for parents in the Employer's Help Book E15 which is available from HM Revenue and Customs.

If your employee does not qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay, she may still be able to get Maternity Allowance.

What rights do my employees have if they become pregnant?

Any female employee who becomes pregnant is entitled by law to have reasonable time off work for ante-natal care. You may not refuse time off unreasonably and you must pay your worker her normal wages while she is absent from working for you.