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What Are The Statutory Sick Pay Guidelines?

Statutory sick pay (‘SSP’) is a universal payment all employers must pay, should their employees be signed off from work due to sickness. Some companies offer contractual sick pay – i.e. full pay for a period however more companies rely on government SSP guidelines.

If SSP applies, then the first question to be asked is – does the employee earn more than the lower earnings limit? The current rate for 2019 – 2020 is £118 per week. If the employee earns less than this then the employee would need to claim sick pay from the job centre. There is a SSP1 form online for the employer to complete. The employer does not pay anything during this period (unless contractual sick pay is available).

SSP Entitlement

The SSP rules are that the first 3 days are considered waiting days which means sick pay is unpaid, thereafter payment is made at the rate of £94.25 (2019 – 2020 rate) per week up to a maximum of 28 weeks.

A ‘period of incapacity’ should also be observed, this is when sickness lasts 4 days or more in a row. Any consecutive 4 sick days in a row count towards the overall 28 weeks including bank holidays, weekends and non-working days. Any odd day here or there would be discounted and should not be included in the 28 weeks limit.

If an employee has been unwell for a couple of weeks and was paid SSP, returns back to work and then goes sick again within 8 weeks period/or 56 day of their last sickness – and has taken a period of incapacity (4 days or more) this would be considered to be linked and therefore forms a part of the 28 weeks limit.

With SSP, the illness does not need to be the same, it could be for a mixture of different reasons. If the employee continues to be ill after 28 weeks, the employer and employee would need to complete SSP1 form as sick pay would now need to be paid by the job centre. 

If the employer is aware that this period of long-term sick will be ongoing, it may be prudent to consider getting medical consent from the employee to approach their doctor about how long the absence will continue for and if there is likely to be an expected return date.

Medical Certificate For Work

In order to progress with SSP payments employers rely on a statement for fitness for work certificate from GPs. Government guidelines now confirm that companies should be able to accept Allied Health Professional (AHP) certificates as well.

This NHS website lists 14 health professions (such as chiropodists and dietitians) who can provide alternative medical certificates that employers can accept and pay SSP. Different regions of the UK accept different AHP’s therefore employers need to be mindful of what certificates they can accept.

If you need help and advice regarding SSP, please do not hesitate to contact me on 0113 350 4030 or at emma.roberts@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and litigation practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide. Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Emma Roberts
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Emma Roberts

Emma is a trainee solicitor at SCE Solicitors. Emma commenced her training contract in September 2018 and is currently working in the employment law department assisting director Samira Cakali. Emma also assists in the running of the firm’s myHR service where she can support you in the day-to-day management of your staff.

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