Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a payment that is paid to eligible employees by employers if  they are too ill to work. Currently, (as of 5th September 2018) SSP amounts to £92.05 per week for up to 28 weeks and employees cannot receive less that this statutory (by law) amount if they qualify. 

To qualify for SSP employees must:

  1. have an employment contract 
  2. have done some work under their contract
  3. have had a Period of Incapacity to Work (PIW) meaning they have been sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non working days, bank holidays and weekends) 
  4. earn at least £116 per week
  5. Provide their employer with the correct notice
  6. Give proof of their illness, only after 7 days off (depending upon company contractual rules)

SSP is not paid for the first three days absence – this is because the eligibility criteria states an employee must be off for four days or more see Period of Incapacity to work (PIW) above

In addition to this, some companies offer “Company sick pay schemes” or “Company sickness benefit” which make up the difference between the statutory amount from SSP and your salary, but it is wise to check with your contract of employment.


Phased return to work

Loss of confidence, loss of work routine, anticipatory concerns about colleagues and loss of physical fitness can all affect employees returning to work following a period of long term illness from work. It is well documented that the provision of good work is beneficial to employee health and this evidence was brought into force by the Department of Work and Pensions when they introduced the “Fit note” which replaced the sick note in 2010.

One of the options available to the General Practitioner to is the “phased return to work”, which allows employees to gradually return to their full working hours and duties over a defined period of time. As such, it offers the employee with the opportunity to settle into their usual working routine which as a result promotes confidence and increases physical capacity over time.

Key considerations for employers:

  • A person`s recovery may be slower than expected, which may cause setbacks and loss of confidence in the employer and employee relationship
  • Some jobs allow for an increased scope to prepare a phased return to work. However, some jobs are inherently difficult for employees to manage even on a gradual basis. As such, other workplace support- for example the provision of temporary adjustment of role, or temporary redeployment to another role may be more applicable.


Effect of a Phased return to work on SSP

If the employer agrees that the employee can do a phased return to work on fewer days, for example:

  • 2 usual shifts worked together (Monday and Tuesday) out of the usual 5, then the other full 3 days not worked (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) will be classed as sickness absence.

As a result, a period of incapacity for work (PIW) remains to allow for SSP payments to continue to apply for the days not worked within the phased return to work.


However, the way in which the working days are planned within the phased return to work may have an impact working days will affect the qualifying period of incapacity to work (PIW) which may result in the employee no longer being eligible to receive SSP for the days not worked. For example:

  • 2 usual shifts (Monday and Thursday) separated by a rest day (Wednesday) are the agreed working days, there will be insufficient days in between the Monday and the Thursday (Wednesday) to form a PIW, and so no SSP will be due on other days.


In the event that the organisation does not have an Management of Absence (Sickness absence) Policy, it is important to consider what the organisation has done previously with regards to other employees during their sickness absence so that the company can treat all employees in an equitable and consistent manner during their phased return to work.

For companies who have access to company sick pay benefit or schemes, this allows the payment of full pay to the employee even though they are only working reduced hours as that is only a temporary arrangement for a short period of time but this can vary depending on whether the employee is hourly paid or on a salary.

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