As of last week, a temporary amendment has been made to the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) guidelines. Employees can now self-certify sickness after 28 days of illness, an extension on the initial rule of seven days.

This extension aims to enable GPs to focus on the Covid-19 booster programme, taking effect from 17 December, but applying to absences beginning on or after 10 December 2021, up to and including absences which begin on or before 26 January 2022.

The self-certification period will revert to seven days for absences beginning on or after 27 January 2022.

Amidst this news, we have put together a quick guide on Statutory Sick Pay.

What is it?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) was introduced in 1983 to support employees having to take time off work for their health. This could be because of a health condition, an injury or to recover from surgery.

Employers are responsible for paying the weekly SSP rate of £96.35 for up to 28 weeks if the employee meets the criteria.

Who is entitled to it?

For employees to be eligible for sick pay, the following conditions must be met:

  • The person in question must be classed as an employee. This means they must not be self-employed as a sole trader or freelancer.
  • The employee will need to have done some work for their employer, meaning that they cannot receive Statutory Sick Pay before they have started working for the company.
  • Average weekly earnings will need to total at least £120 per week. This is calculated from gross pay, before tax and National Insurance contributions are deducted.
  • The employee will need to have been off work for at least four consecutive days. This includes non-working days.

Can an employee get SSP on a zero-hour contract?

The short answer is yes, but there are a few rules to take into consideration.

As their contracts differ from that of other employees, their income will be calculated based on a “relevant period”. This is achieved by counting back eight weeks from their last pay date.

It’s important to note, as mentioned in the points above, the average weekly pay for this period should be at least £120 for the worker to qualify for SSP.

Can an employer refuse to pay an employee SSP?

If an employee is eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, their employer is legally obliged to provide it.

This includes meeting the minimum earning requirements and having been off work for at least four consecutive days, including non-working days. SSP should be paid from the fourth day of sickness.

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