When is SSP payable?
SSP (or Statutory Sick Pay) currently amounts to a weekly payment of £89.35 and is the statutory minimum pay eligible employees will be entitled to if absent from work due to incapacity for four days or more (including non-working days unless the contract of employment states otherwise).
For example, Jane (who normally works Monday to Friday) is absent from work for a week. Her first day of absence is a Friday 2 March. Assuming she is an eligible employee (and her contract is silent as to qualifying days), she will be entitled to receive SSP from Monday 5 March.
When are Employees eligible to receive statutory sick pay?
This will depend on:
- Their contract of employment;
- Whether they are incapable of completing the work reasonably expected of them; and
- Their average earnings being above the Lower Earning Limit.
Assuming Jane’s contract of employment does not offer Company Sick Pay (full pay during a period of sickness absence), she is incapable of performing her daily role and she earns more than the Lower Earnings Limit (as at March 2018 is £113 per week), she will likely be entitled to receive SSP.
SSP is not payable to:
- Employees who have not yet commenced work;
- Employees who have already received their full 28 weeks’ entitlement to SSP or have been on linked periods of incapacity for more than 3 years; or
- Employees who earned on average less than the Lower Earnings Limit (based on the previous eight weeks).
If you are unsure about whether an employee is entitled to sick pay, you should seek legal advice.
How do you calculate SSP entitlement for part-time employees?
Entitlement to SSP is the same for full time employees as it is for part time employees, however if the employee is only absent for part of their working week the calculation for the daily rate of SSP is different.
If Jane works three days a week, say Monday to Wednesday and was sick from Friday 2 March until Tuesday 6 March she would be entitled to £59.57 SSP payment – £89.35 divided by the number of normal working days (3), times by the number of absence days (2).
Can an employer make deductions from SSP?
SSP is taxable and subject to National Insurance contributions. In addition, employers sometimes want to make deductions from SSP payments. Any other deductions which you lawfully make from pay can also be made from SSP, for example, pension contributions, Student Loan deductions and attachment of earnings orders.
Can an employer ask for evidence of sickness?
An employee can self-certify their sickness absence for the first 7 days, meaning they are not legally required to produce a sick note. After the first 7 days, an employer is entitled to ask an employee to evidence their sickness in the form of a statement of fitness for work (sick note) from their GP.
When does the employer’s liability to pay SSP end?
An employer’s legal obligation to pay SSP will cease if:
- The employee returns to work;
- The employees statement of fitness for work expires (unless a further is obtained);
- The employee has exhausted their SSP entitlement;
- The employee’s contract of employment comes to an end; or
- The employee commences maternity leave
If the employee provides late evidence of sickness, does the employer have to retrospectively pay SSP?
Yes, however the employee may be disciplined for failing to adhere to the sickness absence procedure. Whether disciplinary action is appropriate, or not, will be dependent on the facts of each case and we advise that you seek professional advice on such matters.
Can an employer recover SSP from HMRC?
Unfortunately, SSP is no longer recoverable from the HMRC.
Is an employee entitled to SSP if they are returning to work on phased return or reduced working times?
If Jane returns to work on a phased return, working mornings only, then she will not be entitled to SSP but in some circumstances may be entitled to full pay during the phased return period depending on the reason for the phased return.
Employers need to be mindful of their duty to make reasonable adjustments if the employee is disabled. These reasonable adjustments may include full pay during a phased return to work. We suggest that professional advice is sought regarding what the law expects of employers in these circumstances.