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Check if you can get sick pay

This advice applies to Scotland

You might be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) when you're off work sick. It depends on your earnings and your situation.

You can't get SSP for the first 3 days you're off sick but after that you can get £109.40 a week for up to 28 weeks.

Your employer might also pay you their own sick pay - usually called ‘contractual sick pay’ (CSP). You get CSP and SSP at the same time.

Check the main eligibility rules

If you work for an employer, you can usually get SSP if you:

  • have started work with your employer

  • are sick for 4 full days or more in a row, including your non-working days

  • earn at least £123 a week on average, before tax

You’ll also need to follow your employer’s rules for getting SSP - check your contract or staff handbook.

You can read about agricultural sick pay on GOV.UK.

If you’re on maternity leave

You can’t get paid SSP if you’re getting Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) or Maternity Allowance (MA).

Even if you’re not getting SMP and MA you can’t get SSP for the first 18 weeks of your maternity leave.

Your first 18 weeks starts when, either:

  • you give birth

  • you’re off sick for a pregnancy-related reason in the 4 weeks before your due date

If you’re part-time or an agency worker

If your employer takes off tax and National Insurance from your pay or you earn at least £123 a week on average, you can get SSP. This includes if you:

  • work part-time

  • are on a zero-hours contract

  • are on a fixed-term contract 

If you get sick when you’re temping and can’t go to work, you might be able to get SSP until your job ends.

If you agreed to do another job, you might get SSP until the end of that job as well.

If you don’t have a job when you get sick, you can’t get SSP.

You’re on a zero-hours contract

You can still get SSP - you should ask your employer for it. If they say no, ask them to explain why. They might say you don’t have any ‘qualifying days’ - these are your shifts that are on the same day from week to week.

Check how to work out your qualifying days to get SSP

You should make a list of when you have recently worked. Write down any days in your weekly shifts that have been the same from week to week - your qualifying days.

For example, you might have worked on Tuesday and Thursday every week for the past 8 weeks - so Tuesday and Thursday will be your qualifying days. You can look back more than 8 weeks if you think it will help your case - there are no rules on how far back you can look.

If you and your employer can't agree on your qualifying days, you can check what to do if your employer refuses to pay you sick pay.

Check if you can get contractual sick pay CSP

Your contract might say you can get (CSP) - this is sick pay your employer might pay as well as SSP. 

How much CSP you get and how long you get it for will depend on what your contract says. You might get CSP from your first day off sick. CSP can’t be less than £109.40 a week.

If your contract doesn't mention sick pay or you don't have a contract, you should ask your employer. You might also find details about CSP in your staff handbook or intranet.

If your employer doesn’t pay CSP then you should get SSP from day 4 of being off sick.

Check if you can get SSP in your situation

The SSP rules can change depending on your situation.

You’re self-isolating because of coronavirus

If you’re able to work, you don’t have the right to get SSP just because you’re self-isolating or you’ve got coronavirus. It’s worth speaking to your employer - they might agree to let you take paid sick leave.

If you’re too ill to work, the normal rules about getting SSP apply.

You want to work fewer hours after illness or surgery

If you’ve been off work for surgery or a long illness, you might want to work fewer hours for a while - for example, working 3 days a week instead of your normal 5 days a week. This is called a ‘phased return’ to work.

Your doctor can write a fit note that recommends you work fewer hours a week, while you recover. 

Work out your pay and sick pay while working fewer hours

You should get your normal pay on the days you work and SSP on the days you don’t work. You have to have 4 days in a row off sick to get SSP - this includes Saturday and Sunday. So you might want to take Monday and Tuesday as your sick leave days. 

If you only take 1 day as your sick leave day, you won’t get SSP for that day. For example, you take Monday as your sick leave day and work Tuesday to Friday.

Your pay might be less while you work fewer hours. You might also get less SSP and CSP. You should discuss with your employer what your pay, SSP and CSP will be during your phased return - it’s a good idea to get this in writing.

You're pregnant 

If you can get sick pay depends on if your illness is related to your pregnancy or not.

You can read more on getting sick pay when you’re pregnant.

You're returning to work after getting maternity pay

If you become sick before or during your maternity pay period you won't get SSP until 8 weeks after your maternity pay ends.

If you become sick after your maternity pay period ends you can get statutory sick pay if you're entitled.

You're in hospital

If you’re eligible for SSP you should get it during any time you have to stay in hospital.

If you’re in hospital to have planned surgery, you should still get SSP for your time in hospital and your recovery time at home. Planned surgery is also called ‘elective surgery’. 

You should check your contract and staff handbook to see if you can also get Contractual Sick Pay (CSP) for elective surgery.

You have more than 1 employer

If you have more than 1 employer you can get SSP from each one. Treat each employer as if they were your only employer to see if they should pay you SSP. 

If your illness means you can do 1 of your jobs but not the other, you could get SSP from 1 while getting your normal wages from the other. You should ask your doctor to explain this on your fit note.

You're getting your pension

If you work and get your State Pension or a workplace pension, you can still get SSP.

If you can’t get SSP you might be able to get Pension Credit. You can check if you can get Pension Credit.

If you have a disability or illness that makes it hard for you to look after yourself, you might also be able to get Attendance Allowance. You can check if you can get Attendance Allowance.

You're on strike

You can get SSP if your sickness started before the industrial action trade dispute began.

You can't get SSP if your illness started when you were already off work because of a trade dispute. You might be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) instead - check if you can claim ESA.

If your employer says you can’t get SSP

Ask your employer to give you a written explanation of their reasons. They should give you this on a form called ‘statutory sick pay and an employee's claim for benefit (SSP1)’. You should be given the form within 7 days of you going off sick. You’ll need the SSP1 form to claim benefits.

If your employer hasn’t given you form SSP1, you should first ask them for a written statement explaining why you can’t get SSP. You could also give them a copy of the form to fill in - you can get the SSP1 form on GOV.UK.

If you can’t get form SSP1 or a written statement from your employer

Contact HMRC’s Statutory Payment Dispute Team. They’ll ask your employer why they think you’re not entitled to SSP.

You’ll need to have this information ready when you to talk to HMRC:

  • your name, address and national insurance number
  • your employer's name and contact details
  • your payroll number
  • details of when you were off sick
  • what your employer said when you asked for SSP and the SSP1 form

HMRC Statutory Payment Dispute Team

Telephone: 0300 322 9422
Textphone: 0300 200 3212

Monday to Thursday, 8.30am to 5pm
Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm

Relay UK - if you can't hear or speak on the phone, you can type what you want to say: 18001 then 0300 322 9422

You can use Relay UK with an app or a textphone. There’s no extra charge to use it. Find out how to use Relay UK on the Relay UK website.

Your call is likely to be free of charge if you have a phone deal that includes free calls to landlines - find out more about calling 030 numbers.

If you’re sure you can’t get SSP, you’ll still need an SSP1 form to claim any benefits you might be eligible for - check what benefits you can get.

If you think your employer is wrong 

You can challenge your employer on this - check what to do if your employer refuses to pay you sick pay.

If you think you’ve been treated unfairly

You shouldn’t be made to feel bad about asking for sick pay. If you think you’ve been treated unfairly, disciplined or dismissed, you might be able to take action.

It’s usually better if you have an informal chat with your employer first. If this doesn’t resolve your issue, you can check how to deal with a grievance at work.

If your employer has disciplined you because you asked for sick pay, you can check how to deal with disciplinary action at work.

You can also check if your dismissal is unfair.

Check what extra money you could get

If your income is reduced while you’re off sick, you might be able to claim benefits. You should first check if you can get Universal Credit.

If you’re not eligible for Universal Credit, you can check what other benefits you can get.

If you need long-term help doing everyday tasks or getting around, you might also be able to get Adult Disability Payment.

You’ll need an SSP1 form to claim any benefit. You can ask your employer for it or you can get an SSP1 form on GOV.UK.

If you already get benefits and tax credits

You’ll still get your working or child tax credits when you’re getting SSP.

Some benefits might increase while your pay is less than usual. You should tell your DWP office about your illness to see if you’re eligible to get more.

Check if you can get a tax refund

You might be able to get a tax refund if you've been off sick.

You still pay tax and National Insurance when you get sick pay, so if your pay is less  than usual you might find you’re paying too much tax and can get some back. You’ll usually get a letter from HMRC saying you’ve paid too much tax and NI - but this might take a while to arrive.

If you think you have paid too much tax while off sick, you can check how to claim a tax refund on GOV.UK.

If you're struggling with living costs

If you’re struggling with money, there are things you can do to save on your regular living costs. Check what to do if you need help with living costs.

If you’re finding it hard to pay your bills, you can get help. Find out more about getting help with your bills.

You can also get help with debts.

If you're struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank.

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