A Short Guide to Sick Leave and Sick Pay

Perfect HR offers help to employers and business owners handling issues of sick leave and sick pay.
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We provide up-to-date advice on employment law for Business Owners, Directors and Employers.  From talking to our clients we know that issues of Sick Leave and Statutory Sick Pay can be a problem in business.

Common Questions from Employers about Sick Leave

  • How many waiting days are there?
  • What is the rate of pay for Statutory Sick Pay (also known as SSP)?
  • What about SSP for Part Timers?
  • How should I deal with an employee off sick? How much Statutory Sick Pay leave are they entitled to?
  • How much SSP do I have to pay per week?
  • When do I start paying Statutory Sick Pay (SSP sick pay)?
  • What happens if I am withholding SSP payments?

What you need to know

The first thing you need to know is that you may have to pay an employee their full wages while off on Sick Leave. It depends what you have written in your policies regarding Statutory Sick Leave.

If you have stated you are paying Statutory Sick Pay then here are some of your questions answered.

For an employee to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) they must: be classed as an employee and have done some work under their employment contract for you the employer. They must earn an average of at least £116 per week.

You start to pay SSP after the first 3 days of any sick leave. These are called waiting days and are also known as a ‘period of incapacity for work’. The employee, to be a legible to claim Statutory Sick Pay, must earn an average of at least £116 per week. From day 4 – day 7 of Statutory Sick Leave an employee can receive £92.05 a week for up to 28 weeks. You as the employer cannot claim this SSP pay back and you cannot withhold SSP Payments.

If you are withholding SSP Payments you will be in serious trouble should an employee take it further, unless you reasonably believe your employee is not genuinely ill, or if your employee has not complied with the notification requirements that you have set out in your policies within their employment contract.

As far as Statutory Sick Pay for part time workers, they are entitled to SSP as long as their earning go over the income threshold of £116 per week.

Long Term Sickness

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance defines: Short-term sickness absence as lasting up to four weeks. … Long-term sickness absence (including recurring long-term sickness absence) as absences from work lasting four or more weeks.

What are your rights regarding an employee on Long-Term Sick Leave?

This depends on how you handle the situation and on having the correct policies in place as part of the employee’s employment contract. You must always handle long term sick delicately as it can be a serious matter for the employee as well as you the employer.

There are two parts to dealing and managing long term sickness and SSP. The first part is to manage the employee’s absence from work and the second part is to manage their return to work. This is crucial as getting it wrong could lead to a tribunal.

Managing the Long-Term Sickness of an employee should be carried out proactively with the aim of supporting the employee to return to work as soon as possible. This is done through regular reviews of the state of their health etc.

If you have a complete Capability Clause within your employment contract, this will help to determine whether the employee is able to come back to work at all. If they are unable to return to work for good, then you can start the process of dismissing your employee under the grounds of capability.

This should be done in discussion and in writing with the relevant Director, Owner, Employer Manager or their team leader, Occupational Health and, where appropriate, the absent employee.

Contractual Sick Pay

Some employers may offer contractual sick pay. It cannot be less than SSP. If an employer offers contractual sick pay, it must include the rate of sick pay and how long it is payable for, in the terms and conditions of employment.

Perfect HR can help further

Perfect HR offer advice free of charge, giving you peace of mind that you can cope with any issue an employee puts in front of you.

We are here and ready to help. Call now on 0111******** or email info@perfecthr.co.uk.

We also offer a full set of policies for your small business to download and adopt. 



Access to our document library with template letters, example documents and guidance.


An email helpline and support for HR questions and issues;


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Employment legislation and document updates as and when they occur;


Download further Employment Contracts as and when you hire more staff;


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