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Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and self-isolation

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

This post has advice for employers, employees and the self employed. At times like this, we can’t be sure that we aren’t going to need to self isolate so I would encourage you to read it to understand what you are entitled to provide and what you are entitled to receive.

“What do I have to do if I employ people and they need to go off sick, self-isolate or live with someone who is sick or vulnerable?”

I’ve had this question asked many times over the past few weeks and the answer is -

You need to pay sick pay immediately, no three days waiting.

At some point in the future up to two weeks SSP can be claimed back from the government. HMRC don’t have the ability to do this just yet nor do the payroll systems have the ability to do so. It’s great the government will give two weeks SSP back but employers can claim up to 28 weeks SSP in total per employee. Make sure you check your employees contracts in case you need to pay them more than the SSP rate of £94.25 per week (this will be £95.85 from 6th April).

Employees don’t need to have sick notes but if your contracts state they do, then they can get an isolation note from NHS111 online and for those who have had to self-isolate because (e.g.) they live with others that are sick due then they can get a note from the NHS website.

If you need to pay people before any updates to the payroll system have been made, then I would date the sickness three days earlier than it has occured to ensure they are paid correctly however please get in touch with your payroll software team first as this may vary between systems.

But isn’t there a threshold to claim sick pay back?

HMRC brought in the Employers Allowance a while ago to stop people from claiming it pay in order to help small businesses. Originally it was £3,000 but it’s increasing to £4,000 from 6th April (rules have changed slightly so check with your payroll provider). This was not given as a loan, the employers national insurance was not paids until the allowance was used up.

Paying ALL your staff sick pay could give you a serious cash flow problem, so please do see the post, Help for those with a Cash Flow problem for more advice.

£94.25 isn’t going to help your staff if they were used to more. Remember for them to be able to claim it themselves they will have had to have been paid more than £118 a week.

I’m an employee

As an employee £94.25 is not going to cut it. If you were earning minimum wage for 37.5hrs a week that's approximately £307 you’d normally be expecting. You will need to claim the Employment and Support Allowance as you are deemed to be sick.

Can the self-employed claim sick pay

Unfortunately, the blunt answer is no. You too will need to claim the Employment and Support Allowance. If you are not sick, it’s Universal Credit.

I have a limited company and I’ve been paying the directors under the NI threshold?

Some good news there, you can pay directors sick pay, but you would need to speak to HMRC first. It’s been a few years since I did this, but I had to call a specialist at HMRC who sorted it out for me and then I had to override the payroll system.

Again £94.25 is not a lot so I would advise you to look at Universal Credit and the Employment and Support Allowance. Remember they have relaxed their rules for obtaining both of these.

Pregnant women and other vulnerable people

Pregnant women and vulnerable people have been told to self-isolate for 12 weeks, as far as I can tell they should be given sick pay, pregnant ladies claim sick pay until Maternity Pay kicks in.



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