Am I entitled to sick pay from the state when I am absent due to sickness?

Most workers qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if their employer does not offer occupational sick pay, either at all or, for example, in their first period of service. However, SSP is based on a number of rules, including the following: 

  • You must be off sick for four or more consecutive days. This is called a 'Period of Incapacity for Work'. All the days you are sick count towards these four days, including weekends, holidays and any other days when you would not normally expect to be working; 

  • Any two periods of incapacity for work that are separated by eight weeks (56 days) or less are linked – that is, they are treated as one whole period for SSP purposes. 

  • Qualifying days are the only days for which SSP can be paid. These are the days you normally work or are rostered to work. 

  • SSP is not paid for the first three qualifying days in any period of incapacity for work. For example, if you are sick from Sunday to Friday, and you normally work from Monday to Friday, you are only paid SSP for two days – i.e. Thursday and Friday, and not for the first three qualifying days of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. 

  • During the coronavirus pandemic, there are special rules if sickness absence is due to coronavirus (including if you are self-isolating because you may have been in contact with someone who has the virus). Here, you are entitled to SSP from the first day of your sickness absence. But you must still be off work for at least four days in order to qualify for SSP. If your sickness absence isn’t related to coronavirus, then these rules have not changed. The situation in relation to absences and coronavirus is fast-changing. You can find the most up-to-date position on the GOV.UK website

  • You must earn more the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) for National Insurance Contributions (NICs). If your average earnings before deductions such as tax and National Insurance (NI) are £120 per week or more, the SSP rate is £94.25 per week (from April 2020). 

  • Part-time workers are entitled to SSP. 

  • You must show your employer some evidence that you are sick. For the first seven days of absence, your employer is not allowed to demand that you provide a medical certificate (known as a ‘Fit Note’) from your GP before paying you SSP. Instead you must be allowed to 'self-certify' – that is, you complete a form provided by your employer stating when you were off sick, and the nature of your illness. If your absence is due to coronavirus, you must complete an Isolation Note, instead of a Fit Note. You can download an Isolation Note from the NHS website. 

  • After the first seven days, you will need to provide certificates from your GP to cover the whole of your absence in order to be paid SSP. 

SSP is paid at a flat rate, which is normally revised upwards each April in line with the consumer price index. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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