How is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) calculated?

Allison S Robinson | 26 February 2021 | 3 years ago

How is statutory sick pay (SSP) calculated?

Statutory Sick Pay, abbreviated to SSP, is the legal minimum payment that employers must pay their employees if they are signed off work sick. SSP is enforced when an employee is signed off work by a doctor for four or more days in a row, and this can include non-working days. The first three days an employee is off sick are referred to as “waiting days” and SSP is paid out from the fourth, or “qualifying”, day. You may be able to get SSP for waiting days, but only if you were receiving SSP within the last 8 weeks after already passing an initial three day waiting period.

Exactly how much an employee is entitled to depends on a number of factors, including their type of employment, their average salary and work hours, and contractual agreements such as notification policies. A sick day is also only counted if the employee is off for the full day. So if an employee comes in and works for 30 minutes before going off sick, that day cannot be counted towards their SSP.

Employers are only responsible for paying SSP if they pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions for the employee, or if they would were it not for the employee’s age or level of earnings. 

Employees are also only entitled to SSP if their average weekly earnings are over £120. For employees paid hourly on changing rotas, the average weekly earnings are based on the previous eight weeks’ earnings.

Understanding SSP is helpful for both employers and employees and knowing exactly what the law stipulates can save you a lot of trouble and additional headaches.

Calculating SSP is simple and is usually worked out at a daily rate. Employers should divide the weekly rate by the number of qualifying days and pay employees accordingly. SSP is paid in the same way as normal pay checks along with other company salaries. For the purposes of SSP, the first day of the week is Sunday.

Company policy and individual contractual agreements will inform a lot of sick pay calculations, for instance, if an employee’s contract stipulates that they are entitled to more than government mandated sick pay, then the employer will need to honour that agreement. However, employers who are responsible for paying SSP cannot pay less than the government stipulated amount.

For the purposes of calculations in this article, we will only be considering government SSP. Be sure to check your own contract though as sick pay agreements can differ vastly.

You can use the Statutory Sick Pay Calculator provided on the website to easily work out how much SSP you or your employee are entitled to.

What are the requirements for SSP?

For the employer:

  • You must be paying Class 1 National Insurance contributions for your employee, unless it is not required because of their age or level of earnings
For the employee:

  • You must have been sick for four or more continuous days, including non-working days
  • You must have informed your employee of your illness within the company’s required time frame, or within 7 days if there is not one in place
  • You must provide a fit note from a doctor if the illness keeps you from work for more than seven days.
  • You must be earning a minimum of £120 on average per week from the same employer. If you are working multiple jobs to work up to this amount then you might not be entitled to SSP
  • You must be employed at the place you are requesting SSP from. If you are self-employed then anyone you are providing work for is not an employer and is not responsible for handling or providing SSP
  • You must have already completed some work for the employer
  • You cannot claim SSP if you have already received 28 weeks of SSP
  • You cannot claim SSP if you are receiving maternity, paternity, or adoption pay
  • If you are off for more than 7 days in a row then you must provide a fit note from your doctor or Allied Health Professional (with the approval of your employer)

How much SSP do you get per day?

How much SSP you are entitled to per day depends on your contract and the number of days you would ordinarily work.

If you are only entitled to SSP and your contract does not stipulate that you will receive anything more, then the weekly pay is £95.85. Your daily SSP is calculated as a fraction of that, so if you worked a regular week of 5 days on, 2 days off, then your daily SSP rate would be £19.17 (£95.85 divided by five working days). However, if your regular week was 3 days on, 4 days off, then your daily SSP rate would be £31, 95 (£95.85 divided by three working days).

Your SSP will be calculated based on the number of qualifying days of missed work, so you won’t receive anything for the first three days of missed work. If you are off for 5 full days (including non-working days), then you will be entitled to 2 days of SSP. 

How much is SSP weekly?

If you have missed enough work to have full weeks of work owed to you then your employer will pay the weekly SSP instead of calculating the daily SSP.

Weekly SSP is £95.85.

Whether you are earning SSP for a few days or for weeks, your SSP will be calculated and added to your salary and you will receive it as you would receive normal pay from your employer.

Do part time workers get full SSP?

Part time workers are entitled to the same rights and compensation as full time workers, so as long as their average weekly earnings meet the minimum threshold of £120 per week, and as long as they meet the other employee requirements stated above, then they are entitled to full SSP. SSP is not calculated pro-rata and is based on average weekly earnings regardless of how many hours you work. 

Do fixed term contract workers get SSP?

Anyone on a fixed term contract should be able to claim SSP if they meet the same employment requirements as other employees. This is specific to individuals on a fixed term contract with set hours as fixed term, zero hour contracts work slightly differently. 

Casual staff, agency workers, and temps are all entitled to SSP provided they make an average of £120 per week. The amount they are due does not change based on the type of contract, so daily and weekly SSP are still calculated in the same way as they are for full time, permanent employees.

Some contracts will stipulate that you need to be out of an initial probation phase before you can claim SSP, or if you are on probation following disciplinary action then you may not be able to claim SSP. Check your contract for these details as they are legally acceptable and may change what you are entitled to if you get sick.

Do you get sick pay on zero hours?

Zero hour contract workers are still entitled to SSP provided they meet the requirements above. However, there are some other rules and stipulations that come into play with zero hour contracts that you should be aware of.

Because zero hour contracts don’t offer regular work, employers will need to calculate average weekly earnings based on a “relevant period”. To do this, they need to find the starting date for the relevant period by working backwards from the most recent pay day and selecting a date no less than 8 weeks before that date. The starting date must allow for the relevant period to have at least one full pay period – this may be weekly, monthly, or termly depending how often the employee is paid.

For example, if an employee called in sick on 21 January 2017 the relevant period would be calculated as follows:


Frequency of pay Last payday before first full day of sickness Relevant period start date Relevant period Calculation for average weekly earnings (AWE)
Weekly (Paid Every Friday) 13 January 2017 18 November 2016 19 November 2016 – 13 January 2017 Total earnings in the relevant period divided by 8 weeks
Monthly (Paid the last day of each month) 31 December 2016 31 October 2016 1 November 2016 to 31 December 2016 Total earnings in the relevant period divided by the number of months in the period, multiplied by 12 (months in the year) and divided by 52 (weeks in the year)
Once the employer has calculated the average weekly earnings they know if the employee reaches the threshold to receive SSP.

If you have not yet worked a full 8 weeks on a zero hour contract there are still ways that average weekly earnings can be calculated. If there is an exact number of weeks, then the total earnings of the employee can be divided by the number of weeks worked to find their average weekly earnings. If they have worked an incomplete number of weeks, then their total earnings can be divided by the number of days worked and then multiplied by 7 (days in the week).

The only time the employer does not need to do these calculations is if the employee is in a probation phase, has already received maximum SSP (over a period of 28 weeks), or if they have already received notice that the contract has come to an end.

How much you are entitled to per day is also sometimes tricky and some employers have tried to remove scheduled shifts to avoid paying SSP to zero hour workers. However, average days worked in the relevant period must be taken into consideration and can be calculated easily with average weekly earnings. Even if an employee is only employed 2 days a week on average, if they meet the minimum threshold and have missed work due to illness, then they are entitled to SSP.

How long do you get full pay when off sick?

The maximum SSP you can get is 28 weeks in a period, or within linked periods. Each period is the stretch of time that you are incapable of doing work. Linked periods are periods of sick leave where there has been a gap of less than eight weeks between the two periods. This helps to protect employees from losing out on SSP because they may not have worked as many hours in the time in between to still qualify for SSP. For this purpose, the relevant period for calculating average weekly earnings is the relevant period used for the first period of sick leave and a second relevant period is not calculated.

SSP can also stop if you start receiving statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance (this also extends to paternity and adoption pay).

Generally, you will stop getting SSP as soon as you return to work, however, SSP can also stop if you have multiple linked periods separated by less than eight weeks that have lasted for longer than three years. If this is the case, then your employer must give you an SSP1 form explaining why your SSP is stopping. The SSP1 form is also what you will use to start claiming benefits.

If you have had three years of SSP caused by the same condition then you may be able to get work benefits through Universal Credit.

Can Self-employed workers claim SSP?

Unfortunately, self employed individuals are not able to claim SSP even if they are paying National Insurance contributions. If you are self employed and concerned about illness preventing you from working and continuing to receive an income, then you should take out work insurance to make sure you are covered for this eventuality. 

Even if you have been self-employed, if you find yourself unable to work due to disability or a chronic condition, then you may be entitled to certain benefits through Universal Credit. You should be aware, however, that if you start receiving benefits because you are no longer able to work, your income may decrease significantly.







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