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Sick pay if you’re in work

If you work for an employer and you’re too ill to work, you may be able to get sick pay. This could be either occupational sick pay, Statutory Sick Pay, or both. 

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Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Statutory Sick Pay is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks if you’re too ill to work. You must meet the following conditions:

  • you’re classed as an employee (this includes agency workers and part-time workers)
  • you earn £116 a week or more (before tax)
  • you’ve been ill for four days in a row.

People without an employer, such as the unemployed and self-employed, don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay and may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance instead.

Statutory Sick Pay is currently £92.05 a week. 

You won’t be paid for the first three days that you’re off sick, unless you’ve been paid SSP within the last eight weeks and are eligible for it again. SSP can be paid for up to 28 weeks – either in one period of sickness, or in several periods, each one separated by eight weeks or less. To count, each period of sickness must be at least four days in a row to count. 

After SSP runs out, you may be able to claim Employment and Support Allowance instead.

You cannot get SSP on top of your occupational sick pay. So, if your employer provides occupational sick pay, the SSP you get will count towards your occupational sick pay entitlement for any day that you’re off sick. You cannot receive SSP if you are getting Statutory Maternity Pay.

What is occupational sick pay?

Whether you get occupational sick pay depends on what your employment contract says. An example of an occupational sick pay scheme is one that gives you full pay for a number of days sickness each year, after which it ends. You would need to check your contract or contact your manager or human resources department to find out if this is something your employer provides.  

If your employer doesn’t provide occupational sick pay, they must still pay you Statutory Sick Pay if you qualify.

How do I claim sick pay?

If you’ve told your employer that you’re off sick or going to be off sick, your occupational sick pay and SSP should be paid automatically to you in the same way as your normal wages.

It’s unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you because of your illness or another disability. Your rights are protected under the Equality Act or the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland. We have more information about making decisions about work.

Do I need a fit note?

If you’ve been off sick from work for more than seven days in a row (including non-working days) then you must give your employer a doctor’s ‘fit note’.  You can ask your GP or a hospital doctor for one, however you may be charged a fee if you ask for the note before the seventh day. The note will either say you ‘may be fit for work’ or you’re ‘not fit for work’. If it says you ‘may be fit for work’ then your employer should talk to you about any changes or adjustments that will make it easier for you to return to work.  This could be changes like allowing you to work different hours, or giving you tasks that you may find easier to manage.  

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About this information

Marie Curie's Information and Support team has produced this information with help from:

  • Director of Corporate Services, Marie Curie
  • Disability Rights UK
  • Our Readers Panel volunteers.

This information is not intended to replace any advice from health or social care professionals. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. Read more about how our information is created and how it's used.

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