UK Statutory Sick Pay

01 April 2022

In the UK when your employees are absent from work due to illness, they are usually entitled to Statutory Sick Leave (SSL) and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

What do I do if my employees are sick?

When an employee is unable to work due to sickness for up to seven consecutive days (including non-working days) they will need to follow your company’s self-certification procedure.

After seven consecutive days of sickness from work and up to 28 weeks for linked periods of sickness (see below) your employee will need to give you a ‘Fit Note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick ’) which they will need to obtain from their hospital doctor or General Practitioner (GP) in order to qualify for SSP.

A period of sickness that starts within 56 days of another period ending is considered to be linked and in effect continues as one period of sickness.

Depending on the recommendations provided in the Fit Note and the length of time off sick, you will need to speak with the employee to find out if they require any reasonable adjustments to the workplace to accommodate their illness or assist in their return to work.

For example, an employee who has been off work sick due to stress may benefit from a phased return and reduction in workload.

What about COVID-19?

Employees may be entitled to Leave and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they cannot work as a result of:

  • the employee or someone they live with has coronavirus symptoms or has received a positive test result;
  • the employee has been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus;
  • someone in the employee’s support bubble has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus;
  • the employee has been advised by a doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery; or
  • the employee has been asked to shield due to being at very high risk of severe illness.

Employees with a positive coronavirus test result are not required to visit their GP to obtain a Fit Note and can instead obtain an isolation note from the NHS website.

What if an employee is absent from work for a long time?

If an employee is absent due to illness for more than four weeks, they may be considered ‘long term sick’. At this point you may need to assess whether a temporary replacement is required to assist with the workload in the employee’s absence. Additionally, you may need to prepare for the new support needs if the employee has developed a disability or requires a phased return to work.

Long term and serious health conditions can change unexpectedly. With this in mind, you should keep in touch with employees regarding their condition and return date, keep them informed of key workplace changes and help them feel part of the team and involved despite their absence.

Additionally, to mitigate company costs relating to an employee on long term sick leave, Group Income Protection (GIP) insurances can be implemented to cover a percentage of an employee’s salary following a deferral period.

Who is eligible for Statutory Sick Pay?

  • An employee who is off sick may be entitled to SSP provided:
  • they are classed as an employee and have carried out work for you, the employer;
  • they have had a continuous period of sickness, been isolating or shielding for four or more consecutive days (which can include non-working days such as weekends and Public Holidays);
  • the days for which the employee receives SSP are qualifying days (i.e. days they would normally work);
  • their earnings are at least £123 a week;
  • they haven’t already received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks); and
  • they have given you evidence of their incapacity to work in the form of self-certification or doctor’s note.

Employees who don’t qualify for SSP may be entitled to other financial support from the UK government’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rates

  • SSP starts on the fourth day an employee is unable to work due to sickness (including weekends and Public Holidays).
  • SSP is currently paid at the rate of £99.35 per week and is paid up to a maximum of 28 weeks – although employers may voluntarily top this up to full or part pay.
  • The employer cannot recover sick pay from the UK government.
  • The SSP rate is accurate as of April 2022. The rate normally changes annually, in April.

Sickness Policy

You need to ensure you include your sickness policy in a written statement of employment particulars and give a copy to all employees. This can be in an Employee Handbook or Contract of Employment.

How ZEDRA can help

We are proud to provide award winning professional advice and services to employers seeking to globalise their businesses.

Whether you are already established in the UK or hiring staff for the first time, we can guide you and your business through the employee related regulatory, planning and reporting requirements.

We provide our clients with day to day operational support, implement HR software, payroll procedures and employee benefits, as well as offering HR advice.

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