skip to main content

HR Newsletter #116 February 2018

Employment Update

Statutory Sick Pay

SSP rates are a changing in April 2018. Here is a reminder of the key principles that govern eligibility and rates that will come into force from April. Who is entitled to receive SSP? All employees who pay Class 1 National Insurance Contributions may be entitled to SSP. This may be full time or part time employees or casual employees provided they meet all 3 of the qualifying criteria listed below. Eligibility Criteria #1 (Earnings): To be eligible for SSP employee must be earning more than the lower earnings limit (LEL). The LEL is currently set at £113/ week. They must have earned this rate of pay for the 8 weeks previous to their first day of sickness. To qualify for SSP the average earnings for the 8 previous weeks must be greater than £113/ week. Eligibility Criteria #2 (Working days): Staff will only be eligible for SSP on days that they WOULD have worked if they had not been sick. For most staff this will be their standard rota of days or shifts for each week. For casual staff this means shifts that you have been offered and had agreed to work.  This will usually be only shifts in the next few weeks.  These days are termed “qualifying days”. Staff must wait for 3 “qualifying days” before SSP starts. These days are unpaid and are termed “waiting days”. A period of sickness must last 4 days or more to qualify for SSP and any SSP payments will start on the 4th qualifying day. Eligibility Criteria #3 (Communication requirements): Staff must communicate their absence to their line manager by phone of their first day of absence from work. They must complete a Self-Certificate Sickness Form if their absence lasts 7 calendar days or less.  If their absence lasts 8 calendar days or longer they must also produce a Doctor's Fit Note covering all the days of absence thereafter. How much sick pay do staff get? From April 2018, any member of staff meeting all the criteria above are entitled to SSP paid at £92.05 / week (or £18.41/ day if they work 5 days per week). If staff earn less than this amount normally during the week they will not be eligible for SSP. Part time staff or staff working odd days will earn SSP based on the ratio of hours that they work. For more information about this and other variations, see the employer guidance available at The first 3 days are unpaid. SSP is only payable from the 4th qualifying day. Employees who are sick must “wait” for 3 qualifying days before the SSP commences. Second (or further) spells of absence If an employee is sick and then returns to work but is sick again for a second time, then so long as the second spell of sickness is within 8 weeks of the first spell the employee will receive their SSP from day 1 of the second spell of sickness and will not need to wait for the 3 waiting days. These two spells of absence are termed “linked spells of absence” How long will SSP be paid for? Staff will receive 28 weeks of SSP. After that time, they must request sickness payment directly from the Benefits Agency (termed “Incapacity benefit”) and the company has no longer any responsibility for SSP.

Government Response to the “Gig” Economy

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts, published a report (July 2017) recommending changes to the Government that were intended to modernise the way the UK employment practices and employment status are understood and defined (e.g. employees, workers, zero-hours contracts, umbrella companies, rolled-up holiday pay etc.)  and how they might operate in the “gig” economy. A copy of the report can be found below but, in summary, the government has said it will start consultation over many of the proposals, so we won’t expect a great deal of change in the very near future.  

Working Time Directive: Breaks

Under the Working Time Directive employees/ workers are entitled to take a 20-minute break if they work longer than 6 hours. In special cases (e.g.  people working alone called “special case workers”) they can take rest breaks at a later time in their shift when it is allowed (called “compensatory rest”). In a recent case, a signal worker at Network Rail was allowed (as a “special case worker”) to take his 20-minute mandatory break made up of a series of shorter breaks (e.g. 6 x 5 minutes and actually totalled more than 20 minutes). The tribunal found that splitting the breaks up in this way (6 x 5 minutes) did not meet the WTD requirements (even for special cases) because there was no period of 20 minutes’ compensatory rest at some later point. Consequently, lone workers who are not currently permitted to take their 20 minutes’ break in the usual way, must be allowed a full 20-minute rest period (“compensatory rest”) at some point later in their shift.

Redundancy Payments: Weekly Cap Increases

The Government has announced that the current cap on the maximum weekly pay (£489) is rising to £508 with effective from 6th April 2018. This means that any redundancies that take effect on or after 6th April 2018 will be subject to the higher cap.  Note: the weekly pay calculation should be made at the point redundancy comes into effect – so even if the process started before 6th April the new rate should be used if the actual termination of employment date falls on or after 6th April.