Statutory sick pay

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a payment given by employers to employees who are off work sick. If you employ a personal assistant you might need to think about SSP.

This page tells you the basics and how to deal with SSP for tax and NIC purposes in your payroll.

SSP – the basics
Verifying sickness
Calculating and recording SSP
Paying SSP
Can I recover any SSP
Further help

SSP – the basics

If an employee is sick for four or more consecutive days (including non-work days, such as weekends and non-work days) – they may be entitled to SSP for a maximum of 28 weeks. Such a period is known as a ‘period of incapacity for work’ (PIW).

Example: Paul was off sick from Wednesday to Monday inclusive. A PIW exists as he was ill for 6 days – the fact that two of those days were at the weekend does not matter.

SSP is payable in respect of days within a PIW that your employee would usually be expected to work – these are called ‘qualifying days’. SSP is normally not payable for the first three qualifying days of sickness (sometimes these are known as 'waiting days').    

Example: Jerome, who works Monday to Friday, was off sick from Tuesday 5 September to Thursday 14 September, returning to work on Friday 15 September.

There is a PIW as he was ill for 10 consecutive days. During the PIW there are 8 qualifying days (you exclude the Saturday and Sunday as Jerome does not normally work on these days). However, Jerome is only entitled to 5 days of SSP as the first three qualifying days are excluded.

There are certain qualifying conditions for SSP which have to be met, for example, SSP is not payable at the same time as Statutory Maternity Pay or where an employee’s average weekly earnings prior to the start of the PIW are less than £113 in 2017/18. (Where the employee has not yet been in the employment for 8 weeks, SSP is worked out by reference to the amount of pay the employee is due to be paid under their employment contract.)

If your employee is not entitled to SSP, then you must give them form SSP1 explaining why not. 

SSP is the legal minimum you have to pay. If you have an alternative agreement with your employee (e.g. to continue to pay them as normal when they are sick), you will not have to pay SSP over and above what you are already paying, provided what you are paying is above the SSP rate.

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Verifying sickness

You will probably want to satisfy yourself that the illness is genuine before paying SSP. Your employee would usually 'self-certify' for the first week of illness and obtain a doctor’s note for longer periods of absence. Please note you cannot insist on a doctor’s note for the first 7 days. If you are not satisfied your employee’s sickness is genuine then you have to give a written reason for refusing to pay SSP to the employee.

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Calculating and recording SSP

The weekly rate of statutory sick pay (SSP) from 6 April 2017 is £89.35. The actual amount paid daily depends on the number of qualifying days an individual has in a week.

Example: Rena is off sick from Monday to Friday which are the days she normally works in a week. She is due to be paid SSP for 2 days as the first 3 days are ‘waiting’ days. She will receive SSP of £17.87 per day (£89.35 divided by 5) and therefore in total will receive £35.74.

If you are an online filer, your payroll software will help you calculate any statutory sick pay due but it is useful to be able understand for yourself how the figures are arrived at. 

If you are a paper filer, there is a standalone calculator on GOV.UK website to help you calculate the amount of SSP due.

Penalties may apply if you fail to make correct payments.

If you do have to make SSP payments you need to keep records of this – including all dates that the employee’s sickness lasts plus copies of any medical evidence provided. You can use HMRC’s statutory sick pay record sheet to do this. These records must be kept for 3 years after the end of the tax year to which they relate. 

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Paying SSP

If an employee is entitled to SSP, the payment will be due at the same time as their normal wages (e.g. weekly/monthly) and SSP payments will be treated as earnings for PAYE tax and NIC purposes. 

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Can I recover any SSP?

You used to be able to recover some of the SSP you paid to your employees however you cannot recover any SSP for tax years from 2014/15 onwards.

The money saved from the abolition has been used to fund a health and work assessment advisory service that helps employers reduce sickness absence. The 'Fit for Work' service is explained in detail at the Fit for Work website (covering England and Wales) and Fit for Work Scotland website (the service does not apply in Northern Ireland).

You can find our news piece looking at how the Fit for Work service might be able to help you here.

There is a related tax exemption for employer expenditure on recommended medical treatment. This will exempt up to £500 of an employer's contribution to any medical treatments or health related interventions recommended by the Fit for Work service (or other employer-arranged occupational health service). There is also a corresponding National Insurance contributions disregard.

You can find more guidance for employers on the Fit for Work service and related tax exemption on GOV.UK.

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Further help

There is lots of useful information in the GOV.UK statutory sick pay guide.

For a full collection of detailed guidance for employees and employers on Statutory Sick Pay, Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay, please see GOV.UK.

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