05 May

What to do if an employee is sick?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a measure of earnings replacement for employees who are off work sick.

Employers are liable to pay this to all their employees who satisfy all the qualifying conditions when they are off work sick.  The level that employee's average weekly earnings must reach in a specific period for them to get SSP is £90.00 per week for 2008-09. 

SSP is not payable for the first three qualifying days (qualifying days are the days of the week that the employee is contracted to work) in a period of incapacity to work. These are called Waiting Days (WDs).

They are not always the first three days of sickness as the employee may have been sick on non qualifying days

The weekly rate of SSP for days of sickness from 6 April 2008 is £75.40.

The daily rate of SSP is the weekly rate divided by the number of agreed Qualifying Days (QDs) in that week. For SSP purposes the week always begins with a Sunday. The amount payable that week is the daily rate multiplied by the number of QDs the employee is sick in that week, not including Waiting Days (WDs).

You must tell your employees what you expect them to give you as evidence of incapacity for SSP purposes and when you expect them to give it. You can't withhold SSP for late receipt of medical evidence but you can for late notification of sickness.

They can use form SC2 for self-certification, or your own equivalent form, for spells of sickness lasting four to seven days.

After that you can ask for reasonable medical evidence but can only ask for a doctor's statement after the first seven days in a spell of sickness. You can then ask for regular doctor's statements to cover the balance of the sick absence.

Remember a doctor's statement is strong evidence of incapacity and should usually be accepted as conclusive unless there is more compelling evidence to the contrary

You treat SSP just like pay, so you must make deductions for PAYE and NICs. Any other deductions which you lawfully make from pay can also be made from SSP, for example pension contributions, student loan deductions and attachment of earnings orders.

If your employee is still off when you have paid SSP for 28 weeks, fill in form SSP1 and send it to your employee without delay. Your employee will need to use form SSP1 to claim Incapacity Benefit (IB).   You can no longer pay them SSP once they have reached 28 weeks.

If you know in advance that your employee will continue to get SSP for the full 28 weeks, you should issue form SSP1 at the 23rd week to ensure there is a smooth change over to IB. If you don't know that far in advance, issue it as soon as you know 28 weeks will be reached.

To work out if you can get back any of the SSP paid you need to:

  1. Add together the SSP you have paid to all your employees in all your PAYE schemes in the tax month;
  2. Add together your gross Class 1 NIC liability in all your PAYE schemes for the same tax month and calculate 13% of this sum.  Round down any fractions of a penny;
  3. If the amount for step 1 is more than the amount calculated for step 2, you can recover the difference;
  4. Deduct any amount you can recover from HMRC for that tax month.  If it is more than you have to pay, you can carry it over to the next month.

If in doubt call the HMRC Employer Helpline on 0845 7 143 143 or click here for HMRC's official Employer's Guidebook (E14).

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