free small business advice & information

Article Index
Employer Handbook for Statutory Sick Pay
Forms you may need to use
Flowchart - operating the SSP Scheme
Terms used in this guide
SSP daily rates tables
Frequently Asked Questions
New from 6 April 2010
General Information
Time limits for notification of SSP
Has your employee given you the right medical evidence?
Periods of Incapacity for Work (PIW)
Employer Handbook for Statutory Sick Pay
How to work out the relevant period
Paying SSP
When does payment stop?
Recovering SSP
Keeping records
Specific employments
Exceptions to normal conditions for SSP
Are you liable to pay employer's Class 1 NICs on your employee’s earnings?
How to work out Average Weekly Earnings (AWE)
Your employee disagrees with your decision on their SSP entitlement
Incapacity and deemed incapacity
Managing sick absence
Other information that may be useful
Control periods, common illnesses and abbreviations
Tables for linking Periods of Incapacity for Work for SSP
Further help and guidance

Employer Handbook for Statutory Sick Pay

Exceptions to normal conditions for SSP

Employees who can’t get SSP from you

Some employees can't get SSP from you when they are sick. You must give them form SSP1 explaining why the yare not entitled to SSP. They may be able to claim a Social Security benefit instead.

Remember, if your employee cannot get SSP at the start of a PIW they will not be entitled to it in any later linking PIW.

They cannot get SSP if they are not sick for four or more days in a row as this does not form a PIW. Your employee cannot get SSP if, on the first day of the PIW they:

  • had Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) in the ‘relevant period’ below the LEL for National Insurance purposes. If they had any earnings in their relevant period that were included in a PAYE Settlement Agreement.
  • are within the 18/39 week disqualifying period due to pregnancy or recently having had a baby. See Employee pregnant - the disqualifying period for more details
  • have already had 28 weeks’ worth of SSP from you and this new spell of sickness links to their last one
  • were not entitled to SSP the last time they were sick, for any reason, and this spell of sickness links to that one
  • started or returned to work for you after getting IB/ESA from Jobcentre Plus/SSA and are a 'benefit recipient 'who is sick within the first 104 weeks of starting, or returning to work for you. See Linking with Social Security benefits.
  • are outside the UK and you are not liable to pay employer’s Class 1 NICs, and would not be liable even if their earnings were high enough
  • are a new employee and have not yet done any work for you
  • had a contract of employment with you which has ended or been brought to an end
  • had been sick on and off for more than three years
  • had been away from work because of a trade dispute which started before the first day of sickness
  • were in legal custody.

If your employee is not entitled to SSP you must give them form SSP1:

  • no later than the seventh day after the sickness has been notified, or
  • by the next normal payday in the tax month after sickness has been notified.

If you know your employee will still be sick when their entitlement to SSP will be exhausted, give them form SSP1 at the 23rd week of SSP to ensure that a claim to IB/ESA is made on time.

SSP1 issued by mistake

If you realise later that you have made a mistake and SSP is due, you should:

  • pay the SSP, and
  • tell your employee and contact the nearest Benefit Delivery Centre whose number is in The Phone Book under Jobcentre Plus or in Northern Ireland the Jobs and Benefits Office so that benefit isn’t wrongly paid.

Other reasons for not paying your employee SSP

If you consider that your employee is not entitled to SSP for any reason not included on form SSP1, there is an example letter below that you may wish to use to advise your employee.

This letter can be used when you consider that your employee is not entitled to SSP because:

  • they have not told you of their sickness within a fixed time, or within seven days of the first day of incapacity, and you do not accept that they had a good reason, or
  • they have not provided acceptable medical evidence, (but you cannot withhold payment of SSP for late receipt of medical evidence), or
  • they have refused to cooperate with seeking further medical advice.

This letter can also be used when:

  • you have evidence that the employee is fit for work
  • you have another reason why you consider that SSP is not payable that is not an exclusion on form SSP1.

Note: only issue this letter if form SSP1 is not appropriate or does not apply.

Example letter to notify your employee that you will not be paying them SSP


Dear [name of employee]

I am writing to tell you why I cannot pay you Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for the period from..… to……[insert dates].

You cannot get SSP for these days because………...[insert one of the reasons listed above here].

If you have any questions about why I am not paying you SSP please contact me.

If you do not agree with my decision not to pay you SSP, you can ask HMRC to make a formal decision. You should contact the SP Disputes Team on 0191 2255221

Yours sincerely.

Employee pregnant – the disqualifying period

Women who are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA) are not entitled to SSP during their Maternity Pay Period (MPP) or Maternity Allowance Period (MAP). The MPP or MAP is a period of 39 weeks during which SMP or MA is payable.

If your employee is not entitled to either SMP or MA and is not already receiving SSP, she cannot get SSP for:

  • 18 weeks starting with the earlier of the beginning of the week in which her baby is born, or
  • the beginning of the week she is first off sick, either wholly or partly because of her pregnancy, if this is on or after the start of the fourth week before her baby is due.

If your employee is receiving SSP her entitlement will end on the earlier of:

  • the date on which her baby is born, or
  • the day she is first off sick, either wholly or partly because of her pregnancy, if this is on or after the fourth week before her baby is due

Where a PIW doesn’t start until after the end of the disqualifying period, that is the 39 week Maternity Pay period, SSP should be considered under the normal rules for that PIW.

Where a PIW started before, or during the disqualifying period, SSP will not become payable until there has been a break of at least eight weeks after the end of that PIW, hat is, until a new, unlinked, PIW is formed. For example,if your employee phones in on the day she is due to start work after her MPP or MAP has finished, she could be entitled to SSP if she meets the other qualifying conditions. However, if your employee phoned in during the last week of her MPP or MAP and said that she would not be able to return to work because she was ill, she would be disqualified from SSP throughout that PIW.

For more information about SMP and conditions of entitlement, see E15 Employer Helpbook for Statutory Maternity Pay.

28 weeks SSP reached in a PIW

Each time your employee begins a new PIW that doesn’t link, that is, it is separated from the previous PIW by a gap of more than 56 consecutive days, your maximum liability to pay SSP is 28 weeks at the appropriate weekly rate. If SSP is stopping because your employee:

  • has been, or will be, paid 28 weeks SSP in the PIW, and
  • is still sick

you must issue form SSP1.

If you know in advance that your employee will continue to be sick after 28 weeks SSP, you should give them form SSP1 at the 23rd week of SSP to ensure that a claim to IB/ESA is made on time.

Sick employee leaves

If a sick employee leaves your employment you must stop paying SSP and give them form SSP1 without delay.

Employee in legal custody

An employee who is in legal custody at any time on the first day of the PIW cannot get SSP. Entitlement will stop for an employee who is already receiving SSP if they are taken into legal custody.

Legal custody means:

  • being kept in custody by the police
  • being in prison.

Legal custody does not include helping the police voluntarily with their enquiries.

Remember linked PIWs count as one. It is the situation at the start of the first PIW with you that counts when you are deciding whether you can pay SSP.

Employee involved in a trade dispute with you

If your employee is off work because of a trade dispute on the first day of the PIW they cannot get SSP unless:

  • they have no direct involvement in the dispute, and
  • they did not take part in it at any time up to and including the first day of the PIW.

If they go sick again, for four or more days in a row, within 56 days of their return to work after the dispute, you will need to give form SSP1 to them so they can claim IB/ESA.

If they are off sick when the trade dispute starts, they will continue to be entitled to SSP only if they take no active part in the dispute.

Employee dies

If your employee dies, SSP is due up to and including the day of death and stops from the day following their death.

Employee goes abroad during incapacity

If an employee leaves the UK while they are off work sick, for example, to go on holiday or visit relatives living abroad, you are still liable to pay SSP during their absence providing you consider their incapacity is genuine.

You cease to trade

When an employer ceases to trade, entitlement to SSP only ends when the employee’s contract ends.

Remember an employee who is still sick when their contract ends cannot continue to get SSP after that date.You must issue form SSP1 so that the employee can contact their local Jobcentre Plus or in Northern Ireland the Jobs and Benefits Office to claim IB/ESA

If you cease to trade, you remain liable to pay any outstanding SSP payments until your employee has received their full entitlement or their entitlement ends for one of the reasons outlined elsewhere in the helpbook.

You become insolvent

If you become insolvent within the terms of the SSP (General) Regulations 1982, as amended, and the employees’ contracts are not terminated on insolvency,any SSP due in that employment from the date of insolvency becomes the liability of HMRC. You should contact the Employer Helpline for advice.

If the employees’ contracts are terminated, entitlement to SSP ends when the contracts end. It remains the employer’s liability to pay any SSP due for the period before the date of insolvency.

Effect of entitlement on payment of Statutory Adoption Pay and Statutory Paternity Pay

An employee cannot get Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) or Statutory Adoption Pay (SAP) for any week in which the yare entitled to be paid SSP. If an employee is sick and qualifies for SSP before the start of their SAP or SPP leave they must delay the start of their SAP or SPP until the yare well. If this is not possible within the time limits for taking their SAP or SPP, their entitlement to SAP or SPP will be reduced by each week in which they have been paid SSP. If they become sick during their SAP or SPP pay period and are entitled to be paid SSP, you cannot pay them SAP or SPP for any week in which they qualify to get any SSP.

For more information about SAP see E16 Employer Helpbook for Statutory Adoption Pay and E19 Employer Helpbook for Statutory Paternity Pay.

Working out maximum liability when QDs change in a PIW

If your employee’s QDs changed after the first day of sickness in a series of linked PIWs you will need to workout when you reach your maximum liability to SSP.

For example, your employee has five QDs, Monday to Friday for the first linked spells of sickness and you paid five weeks, and four days’ SSP. They then change to three QDs, Tuesday to Thursday and you pay four weeks, an done day’s SSP.

To work out how many weeks have been paid:

  • take each PIW where the QDs are the same and work out how many days’ SSP you paid, then
  • divide this by the number of QDs in the week.
  1. (5 x 5) + 4 = 29 ÷ 5 = 5.8 weeks
  2. (3 x 4) + 1 = 13 ÷ 3 = 4.3 weeks

Total number of weeks paid = 10.1

So your remaining liability in that PIW is 17.9 weeks’ SSP.

Why you need to work out the number of odd days in a fraction of a week

Because not all the possible numbers of QDs in a week convert to exact decimal fractions, you must use these decimal fractions in all cases.

Qualifying days in a week Decimal fraction for one day
7 0.143
6 0.167
5 0.2
4 0.25
3 0.334
2 0.5
1 1.0

To work out the number of odd days needed to makeup a fraction of a week:

  1. Express one QD as a decimal fraction of a week using the table above.
  2. Divide into the fraction of the week’s liability that is left and round up.

There are three QDs in a week in the earlier example.

In the example you need to convert 17.9 weeks to weeks and days

One QD = 0.334

0.9 ÷ 0.334 = 2.69 rounded up to three days.

17 weeks + three days = 18 weeks.

You have a possible maximum liability of 18 weeks left.

Linked PIWs with you that have lasted for three years

If your employee has a series of linked PIWs with you that run for longer than three years after the first day of incapacity, your liability to pay SSP stops at the end of the third year even if you have not paid 28 weeks’ SSP.

You must issue form SSP1 to your employee without delay so they can claim IB/ESA. The ending of liability after three years applies only to a PIW that has run entirely with you. A PIW with a former employer doesn’t count towards the three years.

© Crown Copyright 2009-2013