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SSP is normally paid for 28 weeks in any 3 year period. All employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) subject to certain qualifications;

  • their earnings are at or above the National Insurance Lower Earnings Limit (LEL).
  • SSP is only paid after 3 days of sickness absence. There is no right to SSP in the first 3 days of absence (unless it is ‘linked’ – see below);
  • the employee must provide evidence that they cannot work because of their sickness. Normally that evidence is a “self certificate” of absence for absence of up to 7 days or a doctor’s certificate after the first 7 days.

This entitlement renews when an employee returns to work from their period of absence for at least 57 days. SSP is paid for the days the employee would normally have worked. Periods of incapacity to work (PIW) are the periods of sickness absence. If an employee becomes sick again within 8 weeks (56 days) of a previous absence for which they received SSP, the second absence is ‘linked’ and there is no waiting period, so they will receive SSP immediately. If an employee is sick for 28 weeks they will have exhausted their entitlement to SSP but they may be able to claim Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from the Department of Work and Pensions.

Employees lose eligibility for SSP if they have a continuous series of linked periods of sickness absence that lasts more than 3 years.

When an employee has exhausted their entitlement to SSP they will be given a statement (usually referred to as an SSP1 form) explaining why. This can be found here – and enables them to claim Employment Support Allowance.

Prior to 6 April 2014, if the total SSP paid by an employer in a month was greater than 13% of the employer’s total Class 1 NIC liability for that month, the employer could recover the excess from HMRC under the Percentage Threshold Scheme. This scheme ended on 6 April 2014. However, employers have until the end of the 2015-16 tax year to reclaim SSP paid before the end of the 2013-14 tax year.

Typical employment law pitfalls

Non-payment of SSP is the most common pitfall. Current disputes re eligibility of SSP can usually be solved relatively quickly with the help of HMRC SSP team. Longer term problems may occur on the back of other disputes, for example after an employee has been dismissed. A legal advisor may well find that an employee should have been paid SSP but was not and this may be added as an additional claim on the Employment Tribunals ET1 form.

Help & Support

HMRC provides a helpline for employers: 0300 200 3200.

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