Employers have an obligation and are responsible for operating the Statutory Sick Pay scheme (SSP). With certain limitations, employers can set up their own rules about how employees inform them of their sickness, usually outlined in their staff handbook.
You should only consider paying SSP when an employee has been sick for at least four (4) or more calendar days in a row. This period is known as a period of incapacity for work (PIW) and can include weekends and bank holidays. It is important to note the first three days in a PIW are called waiting days (WDs). SSP is not payable for WDs. If a PIW starts within eight weeks of the end of a previous PIW, the periods are linked and count as one period of sickness.
There is often confusion regarding when to start paying SSP and linking PIWs.
The key is to remember:
- SSP is not payable straight away
- The first 3 days are classed as ‘waiting days’ when SSP is not payable.
- SSP is payable from the first qualifying day after the three waiting days
- When a period of sick which lasted at least 4 days occurs and a further period of sickness starts within eight weeks of the first sickness, these become linked and are treated as a single PIW
- Sickness periods that last for less than four consecutive days can't count towards a linked PIW
- The weekly rate of SSP for days of sickness from 6 April 2012 is £85.85.
- Stop paying SSP if your employee is still sick after SSP has been paid for 28 weeks
- If you stop paying an employee SSP and they are still off sick, you should advise them to make a claim for employment and support allowance (ESA) from their local Jobcentre Plus office
- Form SSP1 is used to support a claim for ESA and it is the employer’s duty to complete it and send it to the employee.