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If you are unable to work because you are sick, it is essential to know your legal rights regarding your entitlement to sick pay. Different employers will have different sick pay policies. However, there are some legal basics that all employers must adhere to.

Your two potential sick pay sources are: contractual sick pay and statutory sick pay. If your employer has already agreed to pay you sick pay, this should be detailed in your employment contract. The amount that you receive and the duration over which you should receive it should be listed in this contract. The amount that you receive through a contractual sick pay scheme must either meet or exceed the amount that you would receive under a statutory sick pay scheme. Your employment contract should specify the actions that you need to take to receive contractual sick pay. You may be required to provide your employer with a doctor’s certificate. If you fail to comply with any of the requirements detailed in your contract, you may forfeit your eligibility to contractual sick pay.

If your contract does not state that you are entitled to contractual sick pay, your employer is required to pay you statutory sick pay (SSP) if you have been unable to work for a minimum of four days in a row due to sickness. To qualify for SSP, you must notify your employer as soon as you realise that you are unable to work. You must usually complete a self-certificate during the first seven days of you experiencing sickness. If you are still sick after seven days, your employer can request medical evidence from your doctor.

To receive SSP, you must have average earnings of a minimum of £107 per week before National Insurance and tax are deducted. The standard rate of SSP is currently £85.85 per week. However, your employer will determine the daily rate that you will receive by dividing this rate by the number of days that you are contracted to work per week. Your SSP payment will be subject to tax and National Insurance deductions and is payable for a maximum of 28 weeks in any single period of sickness. You should expect to receive SSP at the time that you would be paid your usually wage. If you remain sick after 28 weeks, you will need to claim Employment and Support Allowance from Jobcentre Plus.

If you do not qualify for SSP, you should ask your employer for a completed SSP1 form. You can use this form to claim Employment and Support Allowance from Jobcentre Plus.

If your employer refuses to pay you sick pay, you must ensure that you have met any of the qualifying requirements for payment. You should ask your employer to provide an explanation as to why you have not received sick pay. If you are unable to resolve the matter, you may wish to consider taking legal action against your employer for Unlawful Deduction from Wages and/or breach of your employment contract.

You can take a claim for Unlawful Deduction from Wages to an Employment Tribunal. However, your claim must be presented a maximum of three months less one day of the date on which you should have been paid. You can take a claim for breach of contract to the Civil Court a maximum of six years of your employer’s failure to provide you with sick pay. You can also dispute your employer’s failure to pay you sick pay by registering your dispute with HMRC.

Written by James Sheehan, a passionate blogger with past legal experience