Last updated: April 2020
|Coronavirus Sick Pay: the UK government has announced that statutory sick pay will now also apply to he/she who is “isolating himself from other people in such a manner as to prevent infection or contamination with coronavirus disease . . . and by reason of that isolation is unable to work.”|
|Recent Update: For the 2020 – 2021 Tax Year, the following has changed:|
|Weekly sick pay: this is now £95.85 per week.|
|Minimum weekly pay to qualify for SSP: this is now £120 per week.|
Working out whether an employee is eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), how much they are entitled to, and how to record it can present itself as quite the challenge. That’s where IRIS FMP comes in. We are able to provide businesses and organisations with outsourced managed payroll solutions, undertaking the time-consuming paperwork and processes for you.
What is Statutory Sick Pay?
Statutory sick pay (SSP) is paid to employees who are too unwell and unable to work for a period of four days or more. Currently, the SSP rate for employees who are eligible is £95.85 per week, for up to 28 weeks. This statutory amount can be increased if an employer offers a sick pay scheme, however the SSP rate will never be any less that £95.85 per week.
Eligibility for Statutory Sick Pay
To be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, an employee needs to:
- First and foremost, be counted as an employee and have completed some work for their employer before being taken ill. See more on the government’s Employment status guidelines.
- Have been ill and unable to work for a minimum of four consecutive days. This period of four days or more is known as a ‘period of incapacity to work’ (PIW) and isn’t limited to just working days, it can include non-working days
- Make their employer aware that they are unwell within 1 week or prior to their employer’s own deadline
- Earn a minimum of £120 weekly
- If off work for more than 7 days, an employee must provide supporting proof that they are too unwell to work (sick note)
- Have not already received the maximum Statutory Sick Pay (28 weeks)
Employers must pay their employee for SSP if they qualify with the above. The days an employee is receiving SSP for must be qualifying days, in other words, days that they are contracted to work.
SSP is not paid immediately, there are three ‘waiting days’ (the first three days of a PIW), but once these are up, it’s payable to the employee. When there are two PIWs separated by a gap up to 8 weeks long, they become ‘Linked PIWs’.
Employers must record employees’ illness-related absences spanning four days or more, as well as all payments of SSP.
Who is not eligible for statutory sick pay?
SSP only applies to those who meet the above conditions, leaving a number of people who do not qualify. During the coronavirus outbreak, the UK government have advised that “anyone not eligible to receive sick pay . . . [can] claim Universal Credit and/or contributory Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)”. This includes:
- Those earning less than an average of £120 per week
- Some of those working in the gig economy (such as independent contractors and temporary workers)
- Self-employed people
Those who can apply for ‘New style’ ESA must have been employed or self-employed, and made enough National Insurance contributions in the last 2-3 years.
The current influx of people applying for SSP has highlighted the suitability of the UK government’s existing policy. There is much debate surrounding the current pay threshold that dictates who qualifies for sick pay. As the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has reported, there are a significant proportion of people who do not qualify:
Number and percentage of employees not eligible for SSP due to pay, by age
|Age Groups||Number of employees not eligible for sick pay||% of those not eligible for SSP||All Employees||% of all employees||% not eligible for SSP|
With each tax year a new threshold is announced, but until there is any significant governmental reform in this area, this is unlikely to change dramatically.
SSP Rates UK
The number of people who are now relying on statutory sick pay, due to self-isolation during the coronavirus outbreak, has also highlighted its monetary value. According to recent data collated by the UK Office for National Statistics, in March 2020 the average weekly earnings were £471. This means the sick pay rate at that time, of £94.25, SSP fell short by almost 80%.
Over recent years, both the National Minimum Wage and SSP have increased by a few pounds annually. We compare the rates over a ten year period, using an average worker, over the age of 25, who works a 40 hour week (before tax).
How to Work Out Statutory Sick Pay
Weekly paid example:
|Payday||Last payday before the first day of sickness||Payday at least 8 weeks before this (e.g. 1st November 2019)|
|Every Friday||1st November 2019||6th September 2019|
This means the relevant period is 6th September to 1st November 2019. Add up the total earnings within the relevant period and divide this by the total number of weeks in the period (8 weeks in this example.)
Note – figures should not be rounded up or down by whole pence
Monthly paid example:
|Payday||Last payday before the first day of sickness||Payday at least 8 weeks before this (31st October 2019)|
|Last day of the month||31st October 2019||29th August 2019|
This means the relevant period is 29th August to 31st October. With employees who are paid monthly, you would add up the earnings within the relevant period, then divide this by the total number of months in the period (2 months in this example), then multiply by 12 and divide by 52 to get the weekly amount.
Note – figures should not be rounded up or down by whole pence
SSP Rates for Sickness – 6th April 2020 – 5th April 2021
Once average weekly earnings have been worked out, the below table can be used to calculate SSP. If the period of sickness works out to less than a full week, pay SSP for a part week, using a daily rate of SSP below (weekly rate divided by the number of agreed QDs in that week).
Daily SSP Rates 2020/21
|Unrounded daily rates||Number of Qualifying Days in a week||1 day to pay||2 days to pay||3 days to pay||4 days to pay||5 days to pay||6 days to pay||7 days to pay|
For example, if an employee usually works 5 days a week, is sick for 5 days, they will be eligible for 2 days’ SSP at £38.34 with the first 3 WDs subtracted.
You can also calculate an employee’s statutory sick pay using the following SSP Calculator.
PIW – Period of Incapacity for Work
This is a period of sickness lasting four days+ in a row. This includes bank holidays, weekends and non-working days.
QDs – Qualifying Days
These are the days that your employee normally works. These days can be counted as waiting days and can be paid with SSP.
WDs – Waiting Days
Waiting days are the first three qualifying days in a PIW. However, these may not always be the first three actual days of sickness, as sickness may begin on a non-qualifying day – e.g. a weekend day
How We Can Help
Find out more information about IRIS FMP’s Outsourced Payroll Solutions and let us do the work. With over 40 years’ experience, we have the expertise to ensure your employees’ Statutory Sick Pay is distributed accurately and reliably.
For the complete, in-depth guidelines on Statutory Sick Pay entitlement, eligibility and exceptions, please visit the Gov website.
Quick Reference FAQs
Q. How much is Statutory Sick Pay?
A. Employees that are eligible can receive £95.85 a week for up to 28 weeks, paid by their employer. Use the following SSP Calculator to work out what your employee is eligible for.
Q. How do I calculate sick pay for part time employees?
A. This is worked out by dividing an employee’s weekly pay by the number of days they work in a week.
Q. How many waiting days are there for SSP
A. There are three waiting days; these are the first three days of an employee’s period of incapacity to work. After this time is up, an employee is paid SSP.
Q. Is statutory sick pay taxable?
A. Yes, SSP is taxable – tax and national insurance are deducted.
Q. In what circumstances would an employee not qualify for SSP?
A. If the employee has been sick for less than 4 days in a row (including non-working days), fails to provide you with proof of their illness (after 7 days off), does not give you the correct notice, or earns less than £120 a week, they will not qualify for SSP. Additionally, they would not be eligible if they had not yet performed work under their contract, or did not have an employment contract in the first place.
Statutory Sick Pay during the Coronavirus Outbreak
The government has made changes to the way SSP works, while the UK is combating the current outbreak of COVID-19. Statutory Sick Pay will be extended to anyone who has symptoms of the virus, and anyone who lives in the same household as someone with symptoms. Those who fit either of these descriptions will qualify for SSP from the first day of their absence.
Coronavirus SSP – FAQs
Who is eligible for SSP due to coronavirus?
The UK government advises that “those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP), even if they are not themselves sick.” Having said this, only those who meet the specified eligibility criteria for normal SSP, will be given SSP. You must also self-isolate for at least four days to be eligible.
How much SSP will I be paid if I am off work due to coronavirus?
Those who qualify for SSP can receive up to £95.85 per week while they are off work due to coronavirus.
How long can I get SSP for if I am off work due to coronavirus?
SSP can be paid for up to a maximum of 28 weeks, by your employer.
From which day of sickness does SSP due to coronavirus begin?
The UK government has changed the SSP policy slightly, so that those who are off work due to the coronavirus will be eligible for SSP from day one (instead of day four). You must self-isolate for at least four days, however.
Do I need proof of COVID-19 related sickness or symptoms to receive SSP?
The government recommends that employers use their discretion regarding asking employee’s for evidence of need to self-isolate. If an employer determines that a sick note is required, “those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online, and those who live with someone who has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.”
What happens if I was self-isolating before March 13th, when the policy was retrospectively applied?
Those who were self-isolating before the UK government policy began being honoured, on March 13th, will still be eligible for SSP if they were experiencing symptoms, however this will be paid from the fourth day of absence instead of the first. Anyone who was self-isolating because a member of their household was experiencing symptoms, will not be eligible for SSP if they were self-isolating before March 13th.
Do I qualify for SSP if I need to be off work to look after someone with coronavirus, or a vulnerable person?
No. While employees are entitled to time off work to look after vulnerable people, such as children or another dependant, there is currently no statutory pay afforded to these people at this time. This includes if children need to be at home because schools are closed, or if children/dependants need to hospital, or fall ill – apart from in the case of coronavirus.
What can I do if I am off work due to coronavirus, and I am not eligible for SSP?
Anyone who is off work due to the coronavirus, who is not eligible for SSP, can apply for Universal Credit and/or Employment and Support Allowance. Instructions and more information about applying for these can be found on the gov.uk website.