Get invite to our events

    Law employment

    Who is entitled to sick pay in the UK?

    Picture of Kate Boguslawska
    Kate Boguslawska 21, May 2024

    Employee illnesses and the resultant work absences are challenges that many entrepreneurs grapple with. When running a business in the United Kingdom, it is essential to understand how the law regulates such situations.

    SSP UK


    What should an employee do when they fall ill?

    The employee should inform the employer of their inability to work due to illness. Employers may implement internal procedures regulating this matter. If the employee is absent due to illness for less than five days, a medical certificate is not required. However, the employer may ask the employee for a self-certification of their health condition. If the illness lasts longer than a week, the employee should provide a medical certificate issued by a doctor. Additionally, the employee should inform the employer of their absence according to the employment contract arrangements, or if not specified, on the first day of absence.

    When is statutory sick pay (SSP) due?

    An employee who is absent from work due to illness for four or more consecutive days,
    including non-working days (called a Period of Incapacity for Work, or PIW), may be entitled
    to statutory sick pay (SSP). This statutory benefit is not paid for the first three days of illness,
    known as waiting days. This means that single sick days are usually unpaid.

    How much is the sick pay?

    The amount of sick pay is determined annually and announced on April 6. At the time of
    writing this article, it is £116.75 per week, but it is calculated into daily rates. Of course, this
    amount may be higher if the employment contract provides a more favourable benefit
    system. The employer is obliged to pay sick pay for up to a maximum of 28 weeks.

    Who qualifies for sick pay?

    To qualify for SSP, the employee must earn at least £123 per week before tax and must be
    employed by a given employer. Additionally, they must meet certain criteria related to their
    inability to work due to sickness.

    SSP UK information


    Additional information about sick pay

    SSP is paid just like wages, usually on a normal payday, and is subject to taxation and
    national insurance contributions. Employees on maternity leave who receive pay on this
    basis are not entitled to SSP during a period of sickness. There are also situations where an
    employee does not qualify for SSP, such as after exhausting the maximum benefit period (28
    weeks) in related periods of sickness, or if they receive certain types of social benefits. Some employers offer their own sick pay schemes, known as 'contractual sick pay which may be more beneficial than statutory sick pay. Employees should check their employment contract or company handbook to learn about the specific rules regarding their sick pay entitlements.


    New call-to-action

    Can self-employed individuals receive sick pay?

    Self-employed individuals are not eligible to receive SSP, as it is a benefit reserved solely for
    employees on a contract of employment. Instead, self-employed individuals can take
    advantage of other forms of financial support in case of illness, such as Universal Credit or

    Employment and Support Allowance. It is also worth considering sickness insurance for self-
    employed individuals, which can provide some form of financial security in case of inability to
    work due to sickness. Regardless of whether the inability to work due to sickness affects an employee or a self-employed person, the loss of income can be a significant financial burden, especially when they do not have additional financial security in the form of savings or insurance. Therefore, understanding one's rights and available support options in the event of illness can facilitate better preparation for potential financial difficulties that may arise.

    For employers, employee illness can pose challenges both in organizational and financial
    contexts. Ensuring work continuity, managing employee absences, and finding ways to
    minimize the impact of absences on business operations are key issues that employers must

    In conclusion, understanding the rights and support options in case of illness is essential for
    both employees and employers. Knowledge of SSP, its conditions, and qualifications, as well
    as appropriate risk management strategies, can help better handle situations related to the
    inability to work due to illness and minimize the negative financial and organizational effects.



    Kate-Boguslawska-square-finalArticle prepared by Katarzyna Bogusławska, a commercial lawyer and partner at Carter Lemon Camerons LLP.

    Katarzyna specializes in advising companies in England.
    Contact Kate 

    tel: 07769 308498

    PBLINK Stories