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Sick pay

Written by: Fit for Work team | Posted in: Blog

If you’re off work because of ill health or an injury, it’s important to know what sick pay you are entitled to, and for how long.

What is sick pay?

Sick pay is money your employer must pay, either by law or by contractual agreement, to you if you’re off work.

You will either receive:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – an amount that your employer must pay you by law;
  • contractual (occupational) sick pay – an amount outlined in your contract or company’s sick pay scheme that cannot be less than SSP.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

If you’re too ill to work, your employer must pay you a minimum amount while you’re off work. This is called Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

How much am I entitled to?

You can get £89.35 per week for up to 28 weeks, payable by your employer in the same way as your normal wages and with tax and National Insurance deducted.

This amount is not payable for the first three days you’re off, unless you’ve been paid SSP within the last eight weeks and are eligible again.

Who can get it?

To qualify for SSP you must:

  • be classed as an employee (including agency and fixed-term workers) and have worked for your employer;
  • have been off work for at least four days in a row;
  • earn at least £113 per week;
  • have told your employer you’re sick.

How to claim

To claim SSP, talk to your employer or make a request in writing within seven days of being off work.

Your employer may have terms and conditions around sick pay, so always talk to your employer first so that you understand what is expected of you when making a claim.

Find out more about Statutory Sick Pay on GOV.UK.

Contractual sick pay

Your contract of employment, or employer’s sick pay scheme, might entitle you to more money over a greater length of time than SSP. This is called contractual sick pay.

Your employer can tell you:

  • if you’re covered by contractual sick pay;
  • how much you’re entitled to, and for how long;
  • what terms and conditions apply.

The amount you can claim might not be your normal rate of pay, but it cannot be less than what is offered by SSP.

Holiday pay while off work

While you’re off work, you continue to build up your holiday entitlement and can ask to take paid holidays while on sick leave. This means you will receive full pay for these days instead of any sick pay you would otherwise receive.

Employment and Support Allowance

If your illness or disability affects your ability to work and you don’t qualify for sick pay, you could be entitled to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

When claiming ESA, you must have a Work Capability Assessment to determine how your condition affects your ability to work.

Find out how much Employment Support Allowance you could be entitled to on GOV.UK.

What if my employer won’t give me sick pay?

As SSP must be paid by law, your employer has to give a good reason to refuse to pay you. Ask your employer to complete a SSP1 form explaining why they will not pay you, and use this form to:

  • apply for ESA;
  • ask your local National Insurance Contributions Office to consider your claim.

If your employer refuses to pay you contractual sick pay, this is a breach of contract and you should consider raising a grievance against them or make a claim for unlawful deduction of wages to an employment tribunal.

Find help

Citizens Advice has created a guide to help you deal with grievances at work, which can be viewed on the English and Welsh websites. This guide provides a list of organisations that can advise and support you through a grievance or employment tribunal.

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