Am I eligible for statutory sick pay?

Last updated: 22 Feb 2024

The government has brought forward emergency legislation to change the rules on SSP. Previously, SSP was only payable from the fourth day of sickness to eligible employees; this has now been changed and SSP will be payable from day one during the Covid-19 pandemic. This will be applied retrospectively from 13 March.

Additionally, the changes make clear that anyone who is unable to work because they are following Public Health England guidance and self-isolating with possible Covid-19 symptoms are also eligible for SSP. The government is also encouraging employers to relax requirements to provide evidence of illness.

Businesses with fewer than 250 employees will be reimbursed by the government for the costs of providing up to two weeks of SSP for employees who are off sick because of Covid-19 (including those who are not sick but required to self-isolate).

To be eligible for SSP, it is still necessary to be an employee and earning more than £118 per week. The definition of employee in this case incorporates anyone paying Class 1 National Insurance Contributions, and would include agency workers. Most self-employed people would not qualify for it, but changes have been announced to Universal Credit (UC) for the self-employed to make it easier for them to claim UC if they are impacted by coronavirus (see below). Also note that people who are receiving Statutory Maternity Pay are not eligible for SSP.

SSP is paid at a rate of £94.25 a week for the number of normal working days an employee is off sick. The maximum entitlement is for 28 weeks of SSP, after which employees would have to apply for Universal Credit.

There has been widespread criticism, including from Prospect, of the measures that have been introduced. SSP is too low to support individuals and families who have lost other sources of income, and too many low paid workers are ineligible to receive it. We urgently need to see eligibility for SSP extended to cover those earning below £118 per week, and a substantial increase in the size of payments.

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