What is statutory sick pay (and what can be financially beneficial after it has run out)?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is what your employer is required to pay you if you are too sick to work. You can claim SSP after you have been ill for more than three days – it is important to note that you will not be paid for the first three days unless your employer offers sick pay.

SSP is paid to you just like your wages would be, so the frequency of payments depends on how often you typically receive pay cheques.

If you are eligible for SSP, you can receive £99.35 a week, for up to 28 weeks. There is a legal minimum that you have to be paid in SSP – you cannot be paid less than you are entitled to.

That said, you can, however, be paid more than the legal minimum. This typically depends on whether your employer offers paid sick leave.

SSP is still subject to tax and National Insurance.

Who can get it?

In order to be eligible for SSP, you must meet certain criteria. You must:

  • Have an employment contract, and thus be classified as an employee.
  • Earn at least £123 a week, on average.
  • Have been too ill to work for four days in a row (minimum). This also includes days you wouldn’t normally work, such as weekends.
  • Notify your employer within 7 days, or the deadline set out in your contract.
  • Provide a sick note if off for more than 7 days in a row (including non-working days).
  • Have not already received 28 weeks of SSP.
  • Must not be receiving Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).

Please note that there are different rules and requirements for agricultural works – you will be entitled to Agricultural Sick Pay (ASP) instead.

What to do if you still cannot work after 28 weeks?

  • Income protection insurance

Some employers offer group income protection, which protects employees financially in cases where they cannot work. Income protection insurance will pay out monthly payments to your employer when you are not receiving your normal income (such as in times of sickness, illness, or injury), allowing them to continue paying you a proportion of your salary, even after SSP has ended.

  • Dip into your savings

 Many people have a little bit of money put away for a rainy day. Perhaps it has been earmarked for future children or a holiday. Though it can be disappointing to use it for something so mundane, it’s safe to say that prolonged illness is a necessary and urgent cost that needs to be covered.

  • Take holiday leave

Even if you are off on sick leave, you will still continue to accrue holiday leave. Thus, you can use any holiday days that you are entitled to to cover some of the days you are off that aren’t covered by SSP. That said, it is likely that you will need to use a combination of paid and unpaid vacation days during this time.

Final thoughts

SSP is crucial in ensuring that employees are covered in times of ill health. However, it is only legally mandated for a period of 28 weeks – which is not always enough time to fully recover and rehabilitate. Luckily, there are a few ways you can supplement SSP, including income protection insurance, emergency savings, and taking advantage of paid holiday days.