How do I check my employee’s entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
Your employees may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), currently £96.35 a week (rising to £99.35 from April 2022), for up to 28 weeks.
You can offer more if you have a company sick pay scheme, but you cannot offer less. Company schemes are also called ‘contractual’ or ‘occupational’ sick pay, details of which must be included in an employment contract.
As an employer, you’re only responsible for paying SSP if:
you pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions for your employee (or would do if not for their age or their level of earnings)
your employee was sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non-working days)
your employee has told you they’re sick within your own time limit (or 7 days if you do not have one)
Employee eligibility for SSP
Once you receive certification of sickness from your employee, if you’re not operating an organisational sick pay scheme, you will need to confirm whether the employee is entitled to SSP.
All employees, irrespective of age, who have earned at least the National Insurance Lower Earnings, are eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) for up to a maximum of 28 weeks.
This is a ‘day-one’ right and does not require a period of continuous service, although the employee must have actually started work and be on a contract that lasts for at least three months.
If an employee is sick for four or more days and is not entitled to SSP you must send an SSP1 form for them to complete.
If you find that an employee is entitled to SSP and you have no organisational sick pay scheme in place, you should check your records to calculate the period of incapacity for work (PIW) as SSP is only payable if there is a period of incapacity for work (PIW).
Employees should start receiving SSP after they have been sick for four days in a row (including any non-working days). SSP is paid for the days an employee normally works (qualifying days) and in the same way as wages i.e. on their normal pay day, deducting tax and National Insurance.
Any further period of sickness absence of at least four days within 56 days of the first sick day, is treated as part of the same PIW. For example, a PIW beginning on 1 December 2021 would count as the same period as any qualifying sickness absence on or after 5 October 2021. You should highlight the 56th day after the end of a PIW and keep a record to help you determine whether one PIW and subsequent periods of sickness absence are linked.
Calculating the rate of SSP to be paid
Once you have calculated the PIW and when the employee is entitled to start receiving SSP you should next calculate how much SSP you need to pay to the employee (the current and April 2022 SSP rates are above). SSP is calculated daily by dividing the weekly rate by the number of qualifying days.
The Gov.UK site have a useful SSP calculator, which can be used by employers: https://www.gov.uk/calculate-statutory-sick-pay
Part timers and SSP
Part-time workers should not be treated less favourably than comparable full-time employees. Equal treatment must extend to the calculation and duration of sick pay and any qualifying period. It’s worth noting that non-payment of SSP may constitute an unlawful deduction from wages.
Stopping payments of SSP or Contractual Sick Pay (CSP)
You can stop paying SSP either when employee returns to work, or, if they are no longer entitled to receive SSP.
If an employee’s contractual sick pay is due to run out, it’s worth considering whether it would be appropriate to extend it. However, it is equally important to be consistent across your workforce and should an extension to CSP be offered to one employee, there must be a good reason not to offer it to others.
It’s a good idea to engage with and write to an employee at least one month before their sick pay is due to run out. Even though the employee might be aware of the sick pay scheme, it will be helpful to remind them so that they can prepare financially.
Holiday (or ‘annual leave’)
Statutory annual leave is accrued while an employee is off work sick (no matter how long they’re off) and can be taken during sick leave, but employers cannot force employees to take annual leave when they’re eligible for sick leave.
What to do if an employee is sick during annual leave
If an employee falls sick during a period of annual leave, or just before a period of annual leave, meaning that the annual leave cannot be taken, the employee must be allowed to cancel the annual leave and rearrange it at a later date.
However, to be entitled to this, the employee must inform you of their sickness in accordance with your internal company sickness absence policy. It’s a good idea to write to the employee with confirmation of any remaining holiday entitlement, should this situation occur.
Similarly, employees should receive written confirmation of any outstanding holiday entitlement when they return to work and should discuss with their line manager when it will be appropriate to take this leave.
Entitlement to annual leave continues to accrue during long term sickness. Employees should receive written confirmation of outstanding holiday entitlement when they return to work and should discuss with their line manager when to take this leave.
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