If you find yourself suffering from a condition that means you need to take time off work, the last thing you want to be worrying about is your finances. But for many people, this is a real concern, as they wonder how they will survive without their monthly income.
Statutory Sick Pay, or SSP, was created to remove this financial burden that employees face when taking time off work for health-related issues, but how is SSP calculated and who is entitled to it? In this article, we will explain everything you need to know when it comes to SSP, helping to take some of that worry away.
What is SSP?
SSP is an abbreviation for Statutory Sick Pay. This government benefit was introduced in 1983 to support employees who are having to take time away from work for health-related reasons. This could be a result of a health condition, an injury or recovery from surgery.
Read on to learn more about who is entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, how long you can claim this benefit for and how much you will receive.
Who is entitled to SSP?
If you are currently taking time off work as a result of ill health, you might be wondering whether you are eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay.
In order to qualify to receive Statutory Sick Pay, there are a few criteria that you must meet.
Firstly, you must be classed as an employee. This means that you must not be self-employed as a sole trader or freelancer. You will also need to have done some work for your employer, meaning that you cannot receive Statutory Sick Pay before you have actually started working for the company.
Your average weekly earnings will also need to total at least £120 per week. This is calculated from gross pay, before tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted.
Finally, you will also need to have been off work for a health-related reason for at least four consecutive days. This includes non-working days. For example, if you are contracted to work Monday – Friday and you call in sick on the Friday, you will be eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay from the following Tuesday.
Do fixed term contract workers get SSP?
If you are on a fixed term contract, you might be wondering whether that leaves you eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay. The answer to this is not clear cut and will depend on your individual circumstances.
As a contract worker, you will be eligible to claim SSP providing you meet the same employment requirements as other workers. This means that you will need to be classified as an employee rather than being self-employed or a freelancer, have started working for the company and earn an average of at least £120 per week.
However, you will need to check your contract to ensure that it does not have any clauses that refer to SSP. For example, if you are in a probationary period, for example at the start of a contract or following disciplinary action, you may find that your contract does not allow you to claim Statutory Sick Pay.
Can self-employed workers claim SSP?
Many self-employed workers wonder whether they are eligible to claim Statutory Sick Pay. Unfortunately, being self-employed means that you are excluded from being able to claim SSP, even if you are paying National Insurance contributions.
For this reason, it is recommended that self-employed individuals take out insurance to cover themselves in the event that they need to take time off work for health-related reasons.
If you are self-employed and are forced to take time off work due to ill-health, it’s worth checking whether you could be eligible for any benefits. This includes Universal Credit.
Do you get SSP on a zero hour contract?
For zero hour contract workers, you may be concerned that your eligibility to Statutory Sick Pay may be impacted by your contract. After all, if you aren’t legally contracted to work any guaranteed hours, will you be able to claim SSP?
The good news is that providing you meet the same eligibility criteria as regular workers, you should be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay for the period that you are off work with ill-health. However, there are a few rules you will need to be aware of that may affect your eligibility.
As you are not contracted in the same way as other employees, your income will be calculated based on a “relevant period”. This is done by taking your last pay date and counting back eight weeks. The average weekly pay for this period should be at least £120 for the worker to qualify to receive Statutory Sick Pay.
Weekly SSP rate 2021
So, you now know whether you qualify to receive Statutory Sick Pay, but how much will you receive while you are off work as a result of ill-health?
The rate of Statutory Sick Pay is typically updated by the government in April each year. In April 2021, the weekly rate of sick pay was set at £96.35. This is the amount that eligible workers will receive each week whilst off work for health-related reasons, for up to 28 weeks.
How is SSP salary calculated?
If you are currently off work for health-related reasons, you might be wondering exactly how your Statutory Sick Pay will be calculated. This section will give you an insight into the process, so you know exactly what you should be expecting when you receive your pay slip.
The simplest way to calculate SSP is by using the government’s Statutory Sick Pay calculator. This tool enables you to input all relevant information to generate the correct level of SSP for the period of sickness.
However, if you would prefer to calculate Statutory Sick Pay manually, you will need to first work out how many days you are eligible to be paid for SSP. Remember, you will not be paid for your first three consecutive days of absence – SSP begins on the fourth day. This qualifying period will include non-working days, as long as you informed your employer of your absence in the proper way.
So, if you are contracted to work Monday – Friday and informed your employer that you were ill on the Monday, you will begin to accrue payment for SSP from the Thursday. However, if your first day off work due to illness is a Friday, you will begin to accrue payment for SSP from the Monday.
To calculate how much Statutory Sick Pay you will receive, you will need to divide the weekly rate of £96.35 by your number of contracted working days per week. So, if you are contracted to work five days each week, you will calculate £96.35 / 5 = £19.27. This is the payment that you will be entitled to for each working day that you are off sick, after the qualifying period.
So, if you are contracted to work Monday – Friday and you call in sick on the Monday, you would be paid for the Thursday and Friday. This payment can be worked out using the calculation £19.27 x 2 = £38.54. Any further consecutive weeks of absence would be paid at the full weekly rate of £96.35.
Is SSP calculated pro-rata?
If you work part time, you might be wondering whether you will be eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay, and how it will be calculated in your circumstances. After all, your wages are calculated pro-rata, so SSP is likely to be the same, right?
You might be surprised to learn that part time workers are entitled to receive the same level of Statutory Sick Pay as a full time worker. However, they will also be subject to the same eligibility criteria, including having an average weekly earnings of at least £120. Providing the part time employee meets these criteria, they will be entitled to receive the full weekly SSP payment of £96.35.
Is SSP paid on top of wages?
Statutory Sick Pay is the money that an employer is legally obliged to pay to an employee when they are off work sick, providing they meet the eligibility criteria set out by the government. But with many businesses offering company sick pay, some workers wonder whether they will be able to receive both company sick pay and Statutory Sick Pay at the same time.
Statutory Sick Pay is the minimum payment that an employer is obliged to pay an employee during a period of absence related to ill-health. It is not a government benefit and is paid from the business itself. For this reason, a company is unlikely to choose to pay SSP on top of a normal wage.
Therefore, you should not expect to receive SSP on top of any enhanced company sick pay offered by an employer.
How to claim SSP
If you are off work for a health-related problem, you might be wondering how you can claim Statutory Sick Pay. After all, no one wants to be left struggling for cash when they’re ill.
Luckily for employees, there is no need to claim Statutory Sick Pay. This is because SSP should be paid by default by an employer, providing that you meet the government’s eligibility criteria and that you notify your employer of your absence following the correct procedure. This will usually include providing a sick note from a doctor, as well as informing your employer of your absence within the correct timeframe. You should refer to your company’s absence policy for further information.
What if I don’t earn enough for SSP?
Many part time workers and those on a zero hour contract may find themselves falling short of the minimum weekly earnings required to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay. So, what can these workers do to ensure their financial security during periods of ill-health?
If you don’t earn enough to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay, you should first check your company’s absence policy. Whilst there is a minimum earning threshold for receiving Statutory Sick Pay, many businesses will not have a minimum level for receiving company sick pay. However, this depends on whether your employer offers company sick pay as standard.
If you are not eligible to receive sick pay either through SSP or enhanced company sick pay, you may be able to claim Universal Credit during the period in which you are off work sick. This can be particularly useful if you have children to support or rent to pay.
Can my employer refuse to pay SSP?
Under UK law, an employer is legally obliged to pay Statutory Sick Pay to employees, providing they meet the eligibility criteria. This includes meeting the minimum earning requirements, and having been off work due to health-related reasons for at least four consecutive days (including non-working days). SSP should begin to be paid from the fourth day of illness.
What is the daily rate of SSP?
The rate of Statutory Sick Pay changes each year. From April 2021, the rate of Statutory Sick Pay is currently set at £96.35 per week. To work out the daily rate of SSP, you will need to divide this weekly rate of SSP by your weekly contracted working days. So, if you are contracted to work five days per week, your daily rate of SSP will be £19.27, whilst an employee contracted to work three days per week would receive £32.12 SSP per day.