There are two types of sick pay that you could be entitled to – company or occupational sick pay, which will vary from job to job, and statutory. Let’s look at the legal entitlements of statutory sick pay first.
If you're working under an employment contract, even if you've just started, you're entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if:
- you're sick for at least four days in a row (including weekends and Bank Holidays and days that you do not normally work)
- you're earning at least £95 a week
If you have more than one job, you may get SSP from each employer.
How much do I get?
The standard rate for SSP is £79.15 a week. It’s paid by your employer and can be paid for up to 28 weeks.
Your employer will work out a daily rate of SSP if necessary by dividing the weekly rate by the number of days you’d normally work in that week.
SSP is usually paid on your normal payday in the same way as your normal earnings and is subject to the usual tax and National Insurance deductions. That said, if you only receive SSP you might find that your earnings aren’t high enough to be subject to tax.
How do I claim it?
To get SSP you must:
- tell your employer that you are sick
- if required by your employer, provide some form of medical evidence, from the eighth day of your illness
Company sick pay
If your employer has a sick pay scheme, which is equal to, or more than SSP, they don’t have to operate SSP. They can run any scheme they want so long as it doesn’t fall below the legal minimum. You should have been given details of your company sick pay scheme with your written statement of employment. And even if your company doesn't offer a scheme, this written statement should say so.
What’s the norm?
A typical sick pay scheme usually starts after a minimum period of service - eg, a three month probation – after which you receive normal pay when you’re off work due to illness, up to a specified number of weeks. After this, you might get half-pay for a further period of time.
Your employer may set out how you should inform them you’re sick - eg, ring in before a certain time of the day. Usually, you can self-certify for a week of illness, which means you don’t need a doctor’s note as proof you were ill, but after a week it’s commonplace to provide a doctor’s note.
Some sick pay schemes say that payments are at the employer's discretion so they may refuse payment if they think the absence is unjustified. However, in doing so they must ensure that their decision is free from discrimination.
And if your employer paid discretionary sick pay in the past it doesn’t mean they have to do so in the future. That said, it is possible for a discretionary arrangement to become a part of your contract through 'custom and practice'.
Illness due to work
Your employer may have a special scheme in place for workplace injuries. If your employer is responsible for your illness or incapacity you may have a legal right to make a personal injury claim. This applies to both physical or psychological injuries (eg, stress). If you think you are in this situation you should seek professional legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Find out more from the Department for Work and Pensions.
The information on these pages is provided for your information and reference only. Before making any important decisions regarding your employment or any legal matter, you should consult a qualified professional adviser who can provide specific advice based on your individual position. You can receive additional guidance from the government-run employment advice service Acas.