What is Statutory Sick Pay?

We’ve had a number of conversations with clients on the phone recently who haven’t really understood what Statutory Sick Pay is. I’m just going to take a moment to explain it. Statutory Sick Pay is money that is paid by the company on behalf of the government. So depending on the size of your payroll, very often you can claim back your Statutory Sick Pay, but not always. – and the rules are changing, so always check with HMRC or your accountant. But SSP is an amount of money that an employee is entitled to if they are absent from work due to sickness, and where either there is no company sick pay, or where company sick pay has run out.

The key to Statutory Sick Pay is that you have to have it in your contract of employment, and what it means is that you don’t pay anything to the employee for the first three days of their absence before their Statutory Sick Pay kicks in. In those first three days, a lot of business owners don’t realise that they don’t have to pay their employee. That’s quite a useful way of getting people back to work on a regular basis who actually aren’t really sick, they just fancy a day off work. If you continue to pay them for that day off work on a Friday, or that day off work on a Monday, then they are going to continue to take odd days off here and there.

If you’ve got Statutory Sick Pay in your contracts of employment, then actually make sure that you enforce it. Stop pay as soon as somebody is off for day one, because they’ll only not have their pay once, before they realise that they’re being penalised for taking a sickie. If they’re genuinely sick and they are off for a week or two weeks, then their Statutory Sick Pay will come in. But you can’t discriminate, you can’t expose your business to the risk of discrimination. So if your policy is SSP, even if it’s SSP within the first year, or within the first two years, and then a company’s sick pay policy kicks in, if your policy is SSP, do not pay people for the single days that they’re off here, there, and everywhere throughout the year. Duvet days aren’t sick days.