Decoding Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK
The UK has one of the most complicated statutory sick pay entitlements in Europe. After the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries including the UK, implemented new laws for employee support.
This article aims to provide an in-depth examination of SSP rights in the UK, its regulations, and how it supports employees during their sickness absences.
What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a fundamental element of the United Kingdom's comprehensive social security framework, playing a pivotal role in providing financial assistance to employees incapacitated due to illness or injury.
Aligned with other support programs such as Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) and the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), SSP underscores the nation's commitment to safeguarding employee well-being.
Eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay in the UK
The following sections outline the key SSP qualifying conditions that employees in the UK must satisfy to be eligible for SSP.
The employee must be classified as an employee and have worked for the employer.
Minimum Earnings Threshold
Employees must earn at least £123 per week to be eligible for SSP.
Continuous Employment Length
The employee must have uninterrupted employment for at least 16 weeks before their first day of sickness to qualify for SSP.
Employees must notify their employer of their sickness within a reasonable timeframe, usually 7 days, following the employer's communicated guidelines.
To qualify for SSP, an employee must have a "Period of Incapacity for Work" (PIW) of at least 4 consecutive days, including non-working days, due to illness.
Should an employee meet these criteria, they can generally expect to receive SSP, subject to their employer's verification of their sickness.
Calculating SSP: Rates and Duration
The current weekly SSP rate is £109.40 for up to 28 weeks and may change annually as per government reviews.
The SSP amount an employee receives depends on their usual working hours.
- Qualifying days: These would consider days an employee has worked that make them eligible for sick pay.
- Average weekly earnings (AWE): This would take into the employee's total earnings in the eight weeks before the sickness period divided by the number of work weeks worked.
- Pro-Rata Pay: For employees who work irregular hours, their SSP may be calculated on a pro-rata basis.
Employees can receive SSP for up to 28 weeks in one continuous period of sickness lasting four or more consecutive days, starting from the fourth qualifying day of sickness.
- Begin receiving SSP on the fourth qualifying day of sickness
- Continue SSP payments for a maximum of 28 weeks
- If the PIW ends before 28 weeks, SSP payments will also stop
Employees may have "linked periods" of sickness within eight weeks or less, which count as a single period for SSP purposes, lasting up to 28 weeks.
The Process of SSP Claims
Employers must be prepared to handle SSP claims from the moment an employee reports their sickness. A step-by-step guide to the claims process is provided here:
- The employee reports their illness and intention to claim SSP to their employer according to company guidelines.
- The employer determines SSP eligibility based on earnings, length of employment, and existing sick pay schemes.
- After confirming eligibility, the employer calculates the appropriate SSP rate and payment amount for the employee.
- Employers process payments on the employee's regular payday.
- Employers must maintain SSP records for compliance and smooth transitions during future absences.
Maintaining SSP Records and Compliance
Employers must keep accurate records of employee sick leave and payments, including employee details, sickness dates, evidence, SSP payments, and reclaimed amounts if applicable. Records must be kept for at least three years and may be requested during inspections or disputes.
- Employee's name and National Insurance number
- Dates and duration of the employee's sickness absences
- Any evidence provided by the employee to support their sickness claim, such as a doctor's note
- Details on the SSP payments made, including payment dates and any additional sick pay provided
- Information on reclaimed SSP amounts, if applicable
Rights and Protections for Employees
In the UK, employees have rights and safeguards for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) during periods of illness or injury.
The 'right to return to work' ensures employees can rejoin their jobs after sickness, with employers avoiding discrimination and making reasonable adjustments.
Individuals with disabilities or long-term health conditions have the right to request flexible working arrangements.
If an employee believes their SSP rights have been violated, they should seek advice from a legal professional or contact ACAS.
Understanding SSP is crucial for UK employers and employees, ensuring financial support, fairness, and compliance during illness or injury. Stay informed about regulations and seek professional advice to protect the financial rights of both parties during sickness or injury.
Q: What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK?
SSP is a mandatory income replacement for eligible UK employees unable to work due to illness, providing financial support and protecting employment rights.
Q: How can I determine if I am eligible for SSP?
To qualify for SSP, employees must earn at least the Lower Earnings Limit, not be self-employed or receiving other social security benefits, and inform their employer within the specified timeframe of being unable to work for four consecutive days due to illness.
Q: What are the employer's responsibilities for administering SSP?
Employers must verify eligibility, calculate and distribute SSP, maintain records, ensure compliance, and handle claim disputes.
Germany's Pension Landscape: Navigating Benefits and Taxation for Informed Decision-Making5 February 2024
Dive into the intricacies of the German pension system: benefits, calculations, retirement options,...Read more
Key Updates to Dutch Employment Law25 January 2024
Discover key updates in Dutch employment law, from minimum hourly wage to carbon emissions...Read more
Employer Contributions to Commuting Costs in Belgium21 December 2023
What is the employer contribution to Commuting in Belgium?' Learn about the policies, practices,...Read more