Those who are self-employed (and pay Class 2 National Insurance Contributions) have no entitlement to Statutory Sick Pay, but may be able to claim Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance (which was introduced to replace Incapacity Benefit in January 2011). The Direct Gov page here gives more details of this change.
The standard rate of SSP is £87.55 from 6th April 2014. You are entitled to SSP from your employer if you meet the qualifying conditions:
- You must be sick for at least 4 days in a row (including weekends and bank holidays)
- You must earn before tax and national insurance deductions an average of £111 per week (from 6th April 2014)
- There is no minimum period you need to have worked for your employer to qualify for SSP
- There are no age limits to receiving SSP
- You must notify your Employer that you are sick as soon as possible.
SSP is not paid for the first 3 days of your sickness, but after that you are paid SSP for the days that you normally work.
SSP is paid for a maximum of 28 weeks and when it ends (or if you can no longer claim it) you may be able to claim Incapacity Benefit/Employment and Support Allowance from your local Job Centre; your employer needs to give you an SSP1 form which they complete and you send to your local Job Centre.
If your employer does not pay you SSP or you believe they are paying you an incorrect amount, and if you cannot sort this out with your employer, you can contact your local HM Revenue and Customs office who will help – find your local office here – you may also be able to make a claim for an ‘unlawful deduction of wages‘ through an Employment Tribunal.
Many employers may offer more generous payments to employees if they are off sick, under their own schemes (which may have different ‘reporting’ your sickness requirements).
If you are off sick you should let your employer know as soon as possible. If your sickness is caused by an accident at work, then your Employer should follow their accident reporting requirements under RIDDOR regulations – details are here. See our new article on accidents and injuries at work here.
Holiday entitlement during sick leave and sick leave during holidays! Since 2012 we have been getting closer to some clarity on what happens in these situations – see our August 2012 Guide to holiday entitlement and sick leave here for full details.
If you return from sickness within 7 days you should be required to fill in a self-certificate form explaining the nature of your sickness absence.
If you are ill for 7 days or more you need to get a certificate from your Doctor giving the reason why you could not go to work. Your Employer cannot withhold SSP if you are late in sending in a fit note, although they can withhold SSP if you are late in notifying them that you are sick.
As of 6th April 2010 these certificates are known as a ‘fit note’.
The purpose of the new fit-note is to encourage the gradual reintroduction of employees to work, as they recover from their illness, which the Government believed would help both employees and employers.
The new ‘fit’ note will only have 2 options. GP’s will indicate that sick individuals:
- Are totally “unfit for work”
- “May be fit for some work” (with GP’s advice)
They will not have an option to state you are fit for work.
The Government issued guidance and help for GP’s on completing the new fit notes (called Statement of Fitness for Work) and guidance for Employers on how to help employees return to work after periods of sickness.
Important information about fit notes:
- The new ‘fit’ note can only be issued by GP’s for a maximum period of 3 months in the first 6 months of sickness.
- The new statement is not required to be given to your employer until after the 7th calendar day of sickness.
- The new system has no effect on how SSP functions or on Employers obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act.
- The old white sick note (called Med 3) or pink sick note (called Med 5) are both replaced by the one new form (Statement of Fitness for Work). The yellow (Med 10) form that is issued when an individual has been a hospital in-patient will not change and will continue to be issued.
- GP’s are asked to choose ‘may be fit for work’ where they think the person may be able to return to work, even if not completely well, if they get suitable support from their Employers.
- GP’s will then list whether an employee would benefit from a phased return to work, altered hours or duties or workplace adaptions, but they do not need to go into detail regarding what activities an employee can carry out.
- The fit note will state whether you need to see your GP again (at the end of the duration of the fit note), before you return to normal or ‘supported’ work. If your GP does not need to see you again you would be expected to return to work at the end of the Statement period. If your GP needs to see you before this date, and during this consultation they feel you can return to normal work (without support, which is being called ‘functional limitations’) you will not be issued with a new statement.
- If circumstances change during the period of the fit note duration and employees feel they are ready to return to work (with or without support), they need to return to their GP for an amended fit note.
More information on what the Employers guidance notes on fit-notes say:
- Employers should discuss the GP’s ‘may be fit for some work’ comments with the employee to see if the GP’s suggestions can be accommodated.
- If the matter cannot be resolved with the employee, Employers are asked to consider taking advice from an Occupational Health (OH) professional and/or contact the GP to discuss the comments.
- If an Employer cannot provide the necessary support or cannot agree with the Employee about the type of support suggested by the GP, then the Government have advised that the GP’s comments are advisory only and so are not binding on the Employer. Where there is no agreement and the employee cannot return to work then the ‘fit note’ will be treated as a ‘not fit for work’ note, until the situation changes.
For information about dismissals due to ill-health see our Guide to how your Employment can come to an End here.
For information about disability and discrimination and more about reasonable adjustments see our Guide here.
If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues, or a Contractor/Freelancer/Employee with a complicated employment related problem then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk - a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.
Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.
Photo by Adrian Clark