What is statutory sick pay?

Statutory sick pay (SSP) is a U.K.-government mandated compensation that employers pay to employees who are too ill to work. SSP regulations require employers to pay a minimum of £95.85 per week for a maximum of 28 weeks. 

According to U.K. labor laws, to qualify for SSP, an employee must:

  • Have an employment contract 
  • Earn on average £120 per week
  • Show signs of illness for at least four consecutive non-working days
  • Be in coronavirus self-isolation or shielding due to high-risk health factors

The U.K. instituted statutory sick pay in 1982 to ensure that employees receive a standard minimum payment during a long-term illness. Over the decades, the U.K. has modified the SSP regulations, and in 2020 further altered them to encourage adherence to coronavirus restrictions.

Why should HR leaders care about statutory sick pay?

HR leaders should know the SSP regulations to properly implement them, communicate them to employees, clarify expectations, and promote a smoother transition for staff returning to work after sick leave. Providing SSP can relieve employee stress when recovering from an illness and nurture a healthy relationship between employer and employee.

What can HR leaders do to effectively administer statutory sick pay?

HR leaders can implement these practices to ensure that employer and employee adhere to the company sick leave policy and SSP: 

  • Communicate company sick leave and SSP policies to employees. The policy should be clearly outlined in the Employee Handbook, providing answers to questions such as: Who should employees notify regarding their illness? When should they reach out? When is a doctor’s note required?’ How does the policy and the SSP apply in the case of coronavirus? HR leaders can also collaborate with managers and employees to determine fair terms while still enforcing the official sick leave policy
  • Document employee sick time. Monitoring the amount of time and the frequency of employee illnesses ensures that each employee receives the appropriate SSP for their circumstances. Furthermore, collecting employee sick-time data allows HR professionals to analyze workforce patterns. An HRIS with a time and attendance feature can simplify and streamline this time-consuming task. 
  • Demonstrate consistency in policy enforcement. HR leaders must apply the same company rules to everyone. If one employee receives special treatment during sick leave, other employees will expect this treatment as well. To maintain equity and transparency, HR must provide all employees on sick leave the same conditions.
  • Maintain frequent communication with all employees. Keeping in touch with employees can reduce their ability to abuse the rules, while also demonstrating understanding and empathy towards people on sick leave.

How can enforcing statutory sick pay improve company culture?

Statutory sick pay offers a way for employers to support well-being and safety. Helping employees take care of themselves during an illness by providing financial assistance is crucial to promoting a healthy, motivated workforce, and a positive employee-employer relationship. SSP can contribute to a better company culture composed of a happier workforce.