Understanding statutory sick pay

Earnings-related qualification for statutory sick pay


COVID-19: Temporary change to SSP

In Northern Ireland, if the employee cannot work while self-isolating because of coronavirus they could get SSP for every day they are in isolation, from day one. They must self-isolate for at least four days to be eligible. This provision applies in Northern Ireland until 24 September 2022.

To qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP), an employee must have average weekly earnings (AWE) at or above the lower earnings limit (LEL) - £123 a week in the 2022-23 tax year - regardless of whether they are required to pay National Insurance contributions.

You should calculate AWE by using a set period of time (the relevant period) prior to the start of the employee's 'period of incapacity for work'. The period must be at least eight weeks long and is marked by two pay dates:

  • date one - the last normal pay date before the employee's first complete day of sickness
  • date two - the last normal pay date falling not less than eight weeks before the pay date above

The relevant period is calculated from the day after date two up to and including date one.

Calculating average earnings for weekly paid employees

If your employee is paid once a week or in multiples of a week, eg fortnightly or every four weeks:

  • add together the gross earnings in the relevant period, including any bonuses and commissions
  • divide the total by the number of weeks in the period

Calculating average earnings for monthly paid employees

The payment for monthly paid employees is calculated on the same basis as weekly paid employees:

  • Add together the gross earnings during the period.
  • Divide the total by the number of months in the period. If this is not a whole number of months, round to the nearest whole number.
  • Multiply by 12.
  • Divide by 52.

For details of how to calculate average earnings, read GOV.UK guidance on SSP.

Action if your employee is not entitled to SSP

If your employee is not entitled to SSP but has been incapable of work for at least four days in a row, you should advise them to claim employment and support allowance (ESA) from Jobs & Benefits office. You should also give them form SSP1 as soon as possible to help support a claim for ESA.