An Employer’s Guide to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Sick woman sitting on couch, wrapped in a blanket, and reaching for a tissue

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a legal requirement for employees, should they meet the eligibility criteria set out by the government, and their workplace.

The weekly rate for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is £116.75 for up to 28 weeks. It is paid for the days an employee normally works. These are called ‘qualifying days.’

SSP is paid to the employee in the same way as wages, for example on the normal payday, deducting tax and National insurance.

Some employment types like agency workers, directors and educational workers have different rules for entitlement so it is always important to check your contract before claiming SSP.

When does an employee qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

  • have an employment contract
  • have done some work under their contract
  • have been sick for more than 3 days in a row (including non-working days)
  • earn an average of at least £123 per week
  • give you notice and proof of illness when needed

Employees who have been paid less than 8 weeks of earnings still qualify for SSP.

When do I need to start paying SSP to my employee?

SSP is paid when the employee is sick for more than 3 days in a row (including non-working days).

You cannot count a day as a sick day if an employee has worked for a minute or more before they go home sick. If an employee becomes sick during the shift or after it has finished, the second day will count as a sick day.

SSP and Annual Leave

Sick leave is separate from annual leave, and you cannot force your employees to take annual leave if they’re eligible for sick leave. An employee’s period of incapacity for work is not interrupted if they take annual leave during that time.

What are the exceptions for SSP?

Employees do not qualify for SSP if they:

  • have received the maximum amount of SSP (28 weeks)
  • are getting Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance – there are different rules for pregnant women and new mothers who do not get these payments
  • are off work for a pregnancy-related illness in the 4 weeks before the week (Sunday to Saturday) that their baby is due
  • received Employment and Support Allowance within 12 weeks of returning to work

Do linked periods of sickness count for SSP?

If your employee has regular periods of sickness, they may count as ‘linked’. A linked period must last more than 3 days and be less than 8 weeks apart. If a linked period lasts more than 3  years then the employee is no longer eligible for SSP.

Employees may be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). They use form SSP1 to support their application. You must send An SSP1 form to your employee within in 7 days of their SSP ending.

Do I need to ask for a ‘sick note?’

You can only ask an employee to provide a fit note (also known as a sick note) if they are off for more than 7 days in a row.

A fit note must be issued by a healthcare professional such as GP or hospital doctor, registered nurse, pharmacist or physiotherapist.

Other proof of sickness

If you agree, the employee can give you a similar document from a podiatrist or occupational therapist instead of a fit note. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report.

SSP and long-term illness

You can complete form SSP1 before the end of SSP if you know an employee will be off sick for more than 28 weeks. This means they can apply for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) before their SSP comes to an end.

When do I stop paying SSP?

SSP stops when the employee comes back to work or no longer qualifies for it.

You can choose how you keep records of your employees’ sickness absence. HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.

You can offer more SSP if you have a company sick pay scheme but you cannot offer less. Company schemes must be included in an employment contract.


If you wish to calculate your SSP and the daily rates for your occupation there are online calculators for you to do so:

We hope this answered some of your questions about Statutory Sick Pay! For more in-depth advice visit

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