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Guide to Statutory Sick Pay in 2023

Here are all the key facts about how Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) works in 2023, how to check if you're eligible plus alternative options

A photo of Grace Lynch, the author

By Grace Lynch

Published on: 22 May 2023

7 min read

Guide to Statutory Sick Pay in 2023

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) can be useful if you ever need to take sick leave due to illness or injury. SSP is a form of government support to help you financially if you are too unwell to work as normal.

There have been adjustments to Statutory Sick Pay recently including an increased payment amount (upped to £109.40 per week from £99.35). These amounts are reviewed every year, so it is good idea to keep yourself up to date with any changes.

What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

Who is entitled to Statutory Sick Pay?

You might be asking ‘do I qualify for Statutory Sick Pay?’. Here we have all the main rules for Statutory Sick Pay eligibility:

  • You must be employed by an employer or agency on a full or part time contract (cannot claim if self employed)
  • You are paid for the days you normally work (qualifying days)
  • A day is not classed as a sick day if you have worked for one or more minutes (e.g. if you go home sick during a shift, sick days begin from the next day. This includes any non working days.)
  • You need to have earned a minimum of £123 per week (average)
  • You must be off sick for at least 4 days in a row before you can get SSP. Your employer cannot claim Statutory Sick Pay for single sick days. The first 3 days of illness/injury are known as ‘waiting days’.
  • You can only claim SSP for the first 3 days of sickness, if you have received SSP within the last 8 weeks. You can also claim for these days if you are off due to Covid-19 (sickness began before 25th March 2022).

Don’t worry if you are confused about how to access SSP, as you won’t need to arrange this yourself. You don’t need to apply as this will be taken care of by your employer. You will need to contact your employer to let them know you are unwell and unable to work. They will then contact HMRC regarding sick pay.

Most employers will have a sickness policy in place, stating a time frame for notifying them of sickness and what you are entitled to. You will receive sick pay in the same method as your normal wages e.g. weekly or monthly, PAYE etc.

How is Statutory Sick Pay calculated?

It isn’t quite as simple as asking ‘how much is Statutory Sick Pay per week?’ or ‘what is Statutory Sick Pay per day?’. The figure can vary from person to person.

The weekly rate will be the same for everyone as you cannot receive below £109.40 for a full week’s sickness. The daily rate on the other hand will need to be calculated by your employer.

Gov.uk has published a guide to help employers calculate statutory sick pay allowances as well as having an online calculator. How much sick pay you receive per day will vary depending on how many ‘qualifying days’ you work each week.

Daily rates (rounded)Qualifying working days per week
£15.607
£18.206
£21.805
£27.354
£36.463
£54.702
£109.401

This may seem confusing, as you get paid less per day the more days you work. This is because you legally cannot receive less than £109.40 per week. If the employee work less days, they will need to be paid more per day to hit this threshold.

How much is Statutory Sick Pay in Scotland?

Although there can be differences in government policy in Scotland, SSP should be the same. This means Scottish workers will also be able to receive the standard £109.40 per week.

Can you get Statutory Sick Pay for self-employed?

If you are self-employed, you won’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to support you. There is another form of support you may be able to access called Employment and Support Allowance or ‘ESA’.

Employment and Support Allowance works similarly to Statutory Sick Pay. You can apply for ESA if you have an illness or disability that prevents you from working. The money received is intended to help with living cost and support you in returning to work (if possible).

You are able to apply for ESA if you are unemployed, self-employed or employed. Every 2 weeks you will receive:

  • Up to £67.20 per week if under 25 (during the claim assessment period)
  • Up to £84.80 per week if over 25 (during the claim assessment period)
  • Up to £84.80 per week (if in the ‘work related activity’ group)
  • Up to £128.85 per week (if in the ‘support’ group)

You can still claim benefits such as Universal Credit whilst receiving ESA. Your benefits may be capped if you are in the work-related activity group so bear this in mind.

Statutory Sick Pay for apprentices

Apprentices will generally be on a lower wage, so are they entitled to Statutory Sick Pay? The answer to this is yes, as long as they meet the requirements for SSP.

The main hurdle to this will be the minimum average wage. You must be earning at least £123 per week on average to be eligible for SSP. The minimum an apprentice can earn is £5.28 an hour as of 2023. If this is enough to qualify for SSP will depend on the apprentice’s number of working hours per week.

Can I claim benefits while on Statutory Sick Pay?

Statutory Sick Pay will offer some financial support if you are too unwell to work. It is likely though that you will need additional help to pay all of your monthly bills. It is possible to receive both Statutory Sick Pay and Universal Credit at the same time. You can also claim Universal Credit when in receipt of the newer style ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).

This can be extremely useful in paying for bills such as mortgage or rent, as well as cost of living expenses. If your illness or injury prevents working long term, Universal Credit can pay out for longer periods of incapacity. Universal Credit has replaced the following benefits and credits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Working Tax Credit

Statutory Sick Pay will pay out for up to 28 weeks maximum. If you return to work before this or your employment ends, you won’t be eligible for SSP anymore.

Is Statutory Sick Pay taxable?

While Statutory Sick Pay is not a massive amount of money paid, it sadly is not tax-free. This means you will be liable to pay tax such as National Insurance contributions and Income Tax on these payments.

Why is Statutory Sick Pay so low?

The government will only fund a maximum level of support of £109.40 per week through Statutory Sick Pay payments. Though this figure is low, it has increased slightly from the previous figure of £99.35 per week. This increase came into effect on 6th April 2023.

Many employers do agree that the SSP funded by the government is too low. Around 62% in a survey of 1,000 businesses agreed the rate should be increased to better support workers.

Research by property website Zoopla states that on average UK homeowners will pay around £399 per month in bills. This includes:

  • Council tax (monthly average £167)
  • Water (monthly average £34)
  • Broadband (monthly average £44)

This does not include expenses such as rent or mortgage payments. SSP provides only £109.40 per week (£437.60 per month) and this alone will not be enough for most people to get by. Additional support such as savings, benefits or insurance policies (e.g. income protection) can be vital in these situations to avoid significant financial difficulty.

How can I boost my income when unable to work?

Claiming ESA or SSP can be useful when ill or injured and can work well if you already have considerable savings. However, there are some downsides to relying solely on ESA or SSP to get by if you cannot work:

  • Minimal payments may not be enough to cover basic bills and cost of living (£109.40 per week)
  • Runs out after 28 weeks (will not support you after this for longer term sickness)
  • You won’t be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you are self employed
  • ESA has long waiting times for claims (up to 13 weeks) and payments are minimal
  • You might end up with the wrong amount of pay if employer details are incorrect. You would need to get in touch with HMRC to correct this.

There are some alternative forms of protection that can be worth considering. Any of these policies would support you if you cannot work due to illness or injury:

  • Critical illness cover (pays out a cash lump sum on diagnosis of a serious medical condition)
  • Income protection insurance (pays a monthly income if you can’t work for 4 or more weeks. This will pay out for absences caused by accidents or illness)
  • Guaranteed sick pay (a cost-effective policy that pays out for up to 12 months)
  • Personal accident insurance (pays out a cash lump sum if you are injured in an accident. This policy does not pay out for illness related absences)

Note: It is best to do some research before committing to any insurance policy. There will pros and cons to each one that need to be considered. An insurance expert can explain the differences between policies. They will also help you choose the most appropriate one for the cover you need.

Resources

Gov.uk – Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): Overview

Gov.uk – Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): employer guide

Citizen’s Advice – Check if you can get sick pay

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