Statutory Sick Pay and You

Updated on January 11, 2018
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Kate has over seven years experience as an Employment and Personal Injury legal executive. She runs LawCat, a legal explanations website.

This time of year, it can be hard not to fall ill. The cold and damp air gets into your lungs and causes no end of problems. Suffering from a cold or flu virus can be uncomfortable and irritating. But as long as you are not already vulnerable it’s unlikely that it will cause you any long-term problems. You may have to take a week or two off from work, but you should be fighting fit in no time.

However, there are times when getting sick or injured can turn your entire world upside down, especially if it is something long term and/or serious in nature. Your main focus should be on getting well again but unfortunately that’s not always the end of your worries. Financial concerns can raise their head quickly and cause you sleepless nights and further deterioration in your health.

What happens to your job if you get sick? What about your wage? How will you pay your bills?

These are all valid concerns which this article hopes to address by shedding some light on the topic of Statutory Sick Pay.

What is Statutory Sick Pay?

Statutory Sick Pay, also known as SSP, is the money you are entitled to receive, by law, from your employer should you have to take time off when you are sick. A lot of employers have separate rates of pay for staff when they fall ill so it is important to check your employment contract, but the bare minimum, by law, that you should receive is Statutory Sick Pay. You may not receive Statutory Sick Pay immediately, you may have to be off from work for several days before Statutory Sick Pay is paid to you, but you will still be entitled to receive it.

Are You Eligible?

If you are employed and actively working, then you are likely to be entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay. However, you need to be an employee to receive this, you cannot be self-employed and receive Statutory Sick Pay.

Top Tip: If you are self-employed you are vulnerable to having a bout of sickness negatively affect not only your business but your own personal finances! To avoid this, you should strongly consider purchasing income protection insurance. Income protection insurance provides you with a monthly or weekly income should you fall ill. Like all insurance policies you will pay a monthly premium and if the worst happens you can be protected by your policy. Always read the documents carefully to be sure what you are and are not covered for!

As said above as long as you work (and are not self-employed) you are likely to be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.

You must meet the following criteria to be eligible:-

  1. You must have worked at least one day for your employer
  2. You must be sick for at least 4 days in a row, this can include non-work days such as weekends and bank holidays
  3. You must earn more than £112 a week gross (before tax)
  4. You must follow your employer’s rules for getting sick pay. This can include things such as obtaining a GP certificates. You should check your contract to find out what your employer requires.


As you can see, it does not matter if you are classified as an agency worker, a casual worker, a part-time worker or working on a fixed term contract, you will still have the right to received Statutory Sick Pay.

Zero-hour contracts are a little less straight forward, as sometimes you will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay and sometimes you may not be. The best advice is for you to approach your employer directly and ask them if you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay while working for them should you fall ill. If they confirm that you are entitled clarify if this is covered in your contract, if not request them to confirm this to you in writing. If your employer states that you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay then you should request that they put the following in writing: -

  • That you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay
  • Why your employer believes that you are not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay

This is very important as you may need written confirmation from your employer, confirming that they will not pay you Statutory Sick Pay in order for you to claim benefits that will cover you financially during the period of sickness. If your employer refuses to do this then you should also consider speaking to an employment solicitor or visiting your local citizen’s advice.

When are you not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay

Despite the requirements for Statutory Sick Pay being wide, there are limitations placed on it. This results in certain situations where you may not be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.

You will not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay if any of the below apply to you:-

  1. You are self-employed – as discussed above you should consider purchasing income protection insurance to limit your financial vulnerability to sickness.
  2. You have already had Statutory Sick Pay for 28 weeks. There is a limit to the length of time your employer has to pay you Statutory Sick Pay. if you run out of Statutory Sick Pay and are still suffering from an illness then you should visit your local job centre to find out what help is available to you.
  3. You already receive statutory maternity pay or Maternity Allowance. You cannot receive Statutory Sick Pay if you already receive these.
  4. You are pregnant, and your baby is due imminently (in 4 weeks or less).
  5. You had a baby in the last 14 weeks
  6. You are in the armed forces
  7. You are an agricultural worker

How much can you receive and for how long?

You can receive up to £89.35 per week; you can receive this for up to 28 weeks.

However, there will be certain circumstances where you might receive more than £89.35. This is because your employer has agreed (usually in your employment contract) to pay you contractual sick pay.

You should check your employment contract for this information, if you don’t have a written contract then you should check your company handbook, or ask your company’s Human Resources Department.

In Conclusion

You should now have a basic understanding of Statutory Sick Pay.

Statutory Sick Pay is the money paid to an employee who meets the criteria and who has fallen ill for at least 4 days. It is paid in place of the employee’s actual wages and does not have to be paid back on the employee’s return. Statutory Sick Pay is currently £89.35 a week and lasts for 28 weeks. There are certain circumstances when Statutory Sick Pay is not paid but these are fairly limited.

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