As of 6 April 2016, all employees are entitled to claim statutory sick pay (SSP) — so long as they earn at least £116 per week and have a contract that lasts at least three months. Eligible employees include those who’ve only been with you for a day, although they must have actually started work.

This means almost every employee is entitled to paid sick leave. Here’s what you and your HR staff need to know.

Who exactly is entitled to paid sick leave?


There are a few more details to know when it comes to eligibility:

  • The employee must have been off sick for four consecutive days, and give you notice of their sick leave according to your organisation’s own absence policy
  • All employees who are liable for Class 1 National Insurance contributions (NICs), or who would be if their income was high enough, are eligible
  • Employees still paying the reduced NIC rate for married women (a scheme that stopped accepting new applications in 1977) can still claim SSP

How much SSP do you have to pay?


Statutory sick pay is £92.05 per week for up to 28 weeks, and your organisation is responsible for paying SSP to your employees. You don’t need to pay SSP for the first three consecutive days of any sick leave period.

Your organisation can opt out of SSP and offer a contractual sick pay scheme instead. Payments must be at least equal to those under SSP.

Employees can take holidays during their sick leave


Employees continue to accrue annual leave while off sick. They can also choose to take annual leave during their sick leave. As an employer, you can’t force an employee to take sick leave as annual leave.

If an employee takes one week of annual leave in the middle of a two week sick leave period — giving a total absence of three weeks — their sick leave is still considered to be one continuous two-week period. The employee will still be entitled to SSP for the final week of that period.

Fit for one job, unfit for another


Employees with two jobs can legally qualify for paid sick leave from both — and can take sick leave from one job, but not the other.

For example, a worker with a part-time manual job and another part-time office job may qualify as unfit for the former (and take sick leave) but not the latter.

What if an employee doesn’t qualify for SSP?


If an employee doesn’t qualify for SSP, you must send them form SSP1 within seven days of them going off sick. Employees can use form SSP1 to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from the state instead.

Long-term sick leave


SSP eligibility ends after 28 weeks of continuous sickness absence. Shorter periods may also be ‘linked’ if they last at least four days and are eight weeks apart or less. Long-term sick employees who are absent longer than 28 weeks and stop receiving SSP can also use form SSP1 to apply for ESA.

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