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Statutory Sick Pay consultation – what’s on the table?

Colin Gunnell, MD, Liquid Friday.
September 9, 2019

The consultation, entitled “Health is everyone’s business”, was launched in July and puts forward a package of initiatives to encourage positive and early action by employers to support their employees with health conditions.

Among the measures under consideration are changes to the threshold for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) eligibility, the flexibility of phased returns to work and offering a rebate to employers who help employees get back to work after a period of illness.

SSP for more workers

Currently, employees must earn at least an average of £118 per week to qualify for SSP and the Government is consulting on whether eligibility should be extended to those earning below this threshold.

The proposal means that more lower paid workers would qualify for SSP, including those on freelance or short-term contracts as long as certain criteria are met. It would also make sick pay accessible for the estimated 1.1milion gig workers in the UK.

Phased returns to work

In a bid to reduce the number of people dropping out of work after a period of ill-health, the Government is looking at making SSP more flexible.

Currently SSP is not payable on any day an employee does any work at all. The Government is exploring phased returns to work, in which workers would continue to receive SSP, as well as offering a rebate to small businesses who help employees return to work.

Other proposals outlined in the consultation include:

  • Making changes to the legal framework to encourage employers to support employees with health issues, and to intervene early during a period of sickness absence.
  • Improving occupational health provision, by reducing costs, increasing market capacity and enhancing the value and quality of services, especially for small businesses and the self-employed.
  • Better access to advice and support to ensure that all employers understand their responsibilities and are able to act on them.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We need to remove the barriers that stop people with disabilities or health conditions from reaching their full potential – these steps will help us achieve that.”

You can read the consultation, which closes on 7th October 2019, here

Statutory Sick Pay – what are my rights?

While the Government chews over proposed changes to SSP, here’s a quick refresher on how things stand under the current system:

  • To qualify for SSP you must be classed as an employee
  • That includes agency workers on PAYE and umbrella company employees
  • You need to earn at least £118 to be eligible
  • You need to have been unwell for at least 4 days in a row before you can claim SSP, including non-working days
  • SSP is currently £94.25 per week
  • The maximum time you can be paid SSP for is 28 weeks.


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