Sick pay

You love your job, but you're too ill to do it. The Mix looks at your rights to sick pay.

Boy still in work clothes, in bed on the phone.

I will leave this bed to get into my pyjamas. I will.

If you can’t work because you’re unwell it’s important to know your rights regarding sick pay. Each employer will have a different policy, but there are some basics which are covered by law.

Do I always have to phone in sick?

Let work know as soon as possible if you can’t come in because of illness. If you’re not physically able to do this, ask a friend or family member to call on your behalf.

When do I need a doctor’s certificate?

You’re entitled to seven days off without a medical certificate. After seven days your doctor will need to write a fit note confirming that he/she has advised you not to go to work.

When will I receive sick pay?

Your employer could start paying you the minimum Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) after four days of absence due to illness, if there isn’t a company policy in place. The standard rate for SSP is £87.55 a week. Your employer will work out a daily rate, if necessary, by dividing the weekly rate by the number of days you’d normally work in that week.

What if I have a recurring illness?

If you were getting SSP sometime in the last eight weeks, and go off sick again, the SSP will restart again from your first day off work.

Got a question about sick pay?

You can contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) for more information. You can call them on 08444 77 20 20 or find your nearest centre with their search box.

How long can I receive SSP?

SSP can be paid for a maximum of 28 weeks.

Is there a chance I will receive more than SSP?

Your company may have its own policy on sick pay – this will usually start after a minimum period of employment, usually three months. Typically, you would receive your usual salary up to a specified number of weeks, and get half-pay for a further period. Any additional sick leave after this time will be unpaid.

My company has its own sick pay policy, but my employer says that I’m not eligible because I didn’t follow correct procedure. Is that fair?

Some sick pay schemes are at the employer’s discretion, which means your employer can choose not to give you sick pay if he/she feels it’s unwarranted. However, your employer still has to comply with what you could reasonably expect from SSP. If your employer decides not to pay you – for whatever reason – he/she must not favour one employee over another. This is discrimination.

Can anyone get SSP?

Unfortunately not. Your average earnings have to be at least £111 a week (before tax) before you’re eligible for SSP.

My employer is offering me less than the basic SSP. Is that allowed?

No. Your employer cannot offer any scheme that falls below the legal minimum. Details of your company sick pay entitlement should be included in your written statement of employment, which you should be given within two months of starting work.

I’ve got two jobs. Can I claim SSP from both?

Yes you can.

My employer says I’m not entitled to company sick pay because my fixed-term contract has come to an end. Is that right?

It is, however, you may still be eligible for SSP, but paid to you by the state rather than by your employer. Your employer should give you a SSP1 form, which he/she has filled in. (Note that some sections need to be completed by your employer.)

What happens when SSP comes to an end?

Your employer must fill in the same SSP1 form, stating why SSP is ending and the last date of payment. If you’re still unable to work due to illness this is used to support a claim for Employment and Support Allowance.

I’m self-employed. Am I eligible for any support when I get sick?

Yes you are, but not SSP. You can claim Employment and Support Allowance straight away. Contact Jobcentre Plus on 0800 0556 688.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015