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Sick Pay

1. Am I Entitled To Be Paid While Off Sick From Work?

GMB negotiates sick pay schemes for its members, so check to see if your employer has a sick pay policy.

If not, the law sets minimum standards through Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Your employer has to pay you SSP when off sick from work.

You are entitled to SSP after three qualifying days of absence, provided:

  • You are absent for four or more (not necessarily working) consecutive days. This forms a Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW). Two PIWs can be ‘linked’ and treated as a single PIW if 8 weeks or less separates them.
  • Your absence also has to fall in a "period of entitlement". The period of entitlement begins with the PIW.

The employer’s liability to pay SSP ends if:

  • You are no longer sick,
  • You reach the maximum entitlement of 28 weeks, or three years have elapsed since you began your PIW.
  • Your contract ends, unless your employer is trying to avoid paying SSP; you are detained in legal custody; or
  • You become entitled to SMP or Maternity Allowance and are within the maternity pay period.

SSP can be paid for a maximum of 28 weeks.

You are not entitled to SSP if on the first day of capacity

  • You are on a fixed term contract of 3 months or less and you have worked less than 13 weeks. If you are on a series of contracts and no more than eight weeks separates these you can link them together for this purpose;
  • your average earnings are less than the lower earnings limit (£139.58 a week from April 2015);
  • in the previous 57 days you were entitled to Severe Disablement Allowance or Incapacity Benefit;
  • you have done no work at all under the contract. If you had worked for an employer under a previous contract which ended not less than eight weeks before, you are not excluded;
  • there is a trade dispute in which you have a direct interest;
  • you have exhausted the 28 weeks with a former employer and there is a gap of 56 days or less since you last received SSP;
  • you are or have been pregnant and are within the maternity pay period;
  • You are a ‘Welfare to Work’ beneficiary with a 52 week linking period; or you are detained in legal custody, or you are not in the European Union.

If you are excluded or have exhausted your entitlement, you may transfer to incapacity benefit (IB). Entitlement to IB depends on your national insurance record. Otherwise you may be able to claim income support (IS), a means tested benefit.

2. How Much Sick Pay Am I Entitled To? 

This depends on whether you are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Incapacity Benefit (IB) or your employer’s own scheme. Many employers improve upon the basic State scheme and provide full pay or half pay. Usually, the more service you have with the employer, the better the entitlement. Check your rights under your written particulars of employment and any collective agreement. 

SSP is paid at a weekly flat rate of £139.58. There is no increase for dependants for SSP. 

IB is paid at 3 weekly rates (higher rates for people over pension age). The rate you get depends on the length of time you have been entitled to IB. You may also get an age addition or dependants increase. 

Generally, IB is payable after four consecutive days of incapacity. The first three days are waiting days but if you fall sick again within 8 weeks, the two spells are added together. You do not have to wait another three days. 

From the 31 January 2011 people can no longer make a new claim for IB. You should claim Employment and Support Allowance instead.

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