Employee sick leave entitlement

Understand how much time off work your staff can claim.

First published on Thursday, Jun 04, 2020

Last updated on Monday, Apr 08, 2024

It’s an inevitability of running a business—sooner or later one of your employees will need a sick day.

But what rights do your staff members have? Can they claim sick leave with pay? In this guide, we explain where your business stands on the matter.

Your business and sick leave

As an employer, you’ll need to carefully consider what your sickness policy should be.

There are legal requirements you have to meet, but you can also adapt it for your company culture and expectations.

You should make it clear what your sick leave policy is and update new starters and existing employees about your processes.

And it’s only nature your workforce will wonder if there’s sick leave with pay. Below, we detail what you need to consider about your policies.

How much is sick pay from work?

It’s a common question from staff members, “How much is statutory sick pay?” Under current employment law, sick pay is at the rate of £116.75 per week.

For employers, you can pay this out for up to 28 weeks.

Your organisation is responsible for paying statutory sick pay (SSP) to your employees.

Generally speaking, you don’t need to pay SSP for the first three consecutive days of any sick leave period (these are “waiting days”). Sometimes your business may also need to pay the first three days if it’s a linked period.

Your organisation can choose to offer an enhanced scheme of higher sick pay and offer a contractual sick pay scheme instead. Payments must always be more than those under SSP.

Employee SSP entitlement

As we mention above, a regular question from employees is, “How much do I get for sick pay?” Well, under British employment law, sick pay is available for some staff. Those who can claim this are employees, the self-employed, and workers.

Eligible employees include those with you for a day, although they must have started working for you.

This means almost every employee has sick pay entitlement.

But, remember, if they’re off ill for over seven calendar days they’ll need to provide you with proof—such as a doctor’s sick note.

That’ll provide you with the reason for sickness absence, which can help you to control absenteeism in the workplace.

How do employees claim sick leave pay?

There are a few more details to know when it comes to eligibility. The employee must have been off sick for four consecutive days, and give you notice of their sick leave according to your organisation’s absence policy.

All employees who are liable for Class 1 National Insurance contributions (NICs), or who would be if their income was high enough, are eligible.

As a business, it’s a good idea to understand that your employees will want to know how to claim sick pay.

Well, to claim it the employee should tell you by the official deadline you have—you can establish that in your employee handbook or employment contract.

If they want to dispute anything, then they should discuss with you their issues. They have the right to ask you for the reason why there’s an issue.

If they still feel the situation isn’t resolved, they can contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for further advice.

If you fail to provide this to eligible staff members, it can lead to grievance claims and potentially employment tribunals.

Taking holidays during sick leave

Employees continue to accrue annual leave while off sick. They can also choose to take annual leave during their sick leave.

As an employer, you can’t force an employee to take sick leave as annual leave.

Employees can request to take annual leave during a period of sickness and it’s up to you to decide whether or not to allow it.

You may struggle to decline it on the basis of too many people already being off; the employee is already off sick so wouldn’t be in work.

If your employee has two jobs staff members can legally qualify for paid sick leave from both.

They can take sick leave from one job, but not the other.

For example, a worker with a part-time manual job and another part-time office job may qualify as unfit for the former (and take sick leave) but not the latter.

What if an employee doesn’t qualify for SSP?

If this happens, you must send the form SSP1 within seven days of them going off sick.

Employees can use form SSP1 to apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from the state instead.

Long-term sick leave

SSP eligibility ends after 28 weeks of continuous sickness absence. Shorter periods may also be ‘linked’ if they last at least four days and are eight weeks apart or less.

Long-term sick employees who are absent longer than 28 weeks and stop receiving SSP can also use form SSP1 to apply for ESA.

How much is sickness benefit for disabled employees?

Remember, too, that if you have disabled employees they can claim some benefits off the British government. These include:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP): For people aged 16-64.
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA): For those under 16.
  • Attendance Allowance (AA): For those 65 or over.

If you have a disabled employee, you may want to make them aware these can provide additional support while they work for you.

In need of some help?

We can help you deal with workplace absences and employment sick pay, which can improve your business’ productivity. Call us today for immediate help: 0800 783 2806.

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