Definition of Terms - Statutory Sick Pay

Statutory Sick Pay - What is SSP?

Statutory Sick Pay is a certain amount of pay that you can choose to make to employees who are absent due to illness.

There are certain things you need to check before you consider paying SSP. Your employee has to:

  • Have done some work for you under their contract.
  • Be off sick for 4 or more calendar days in a row.
  • Have Average Weekly Earnings of no less than the Lower Earnings Limit in the relevant period prior to being off work.
    The employee does not have to pay National Insurance to qualify.

For weekly paid employees the relevant period is the 8 weeks ending on the last payday before your employee went sick. Add together all their earnings in this period and divide by 8 to find their average earnings. If your employee’s average weekly earnings are below the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) then SSP is not payable.

Employees who are sick for 3 calendar days in a row, or less, are not covered by the SSP scheme.

Usually your liability to pay SSP ends because your employee’s incapacity for work under their contract ends, for example they return to work or stop sending doctor’s statements. But there are other reasons for your liability to end. You do not have to pay SSP for any day after your:

  • employee’s contract of service ends;
  • employee has been due 28 weeks’ SSP in a PIW;
  • employee’s linked PIW with you has run for 3 years;
  • employee’s disqualifying period related to her pregnancy begins;
  • employee is taken into legal custody;
  • employee goes outside the United Kingdom and you do not have a liability for Class 1 NICs, or would not if the employee’s earnings were high enough;
  • employee dies.

Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW)

This is a period of sickness of 4 or more calendar days in a row. All days of incapacity, or deemed incapacity, count towards these 4 days, including weekends, holidays and any other days which the employee would not normally be expected to work.

For example, your employee normally works Monday to Friday. If they are sick on Monday and Tuesday you will need to know if they were sick over the weekend before you can consider paying SSP.

  • If the sickness began on Saturday, they will have been sick for 4 calendar days, a PIW will have been formed, and you can consider paying SSP.
  • If the sickness began on Sunday, they will have been sick for only 3 days and you need not consider paying SSP.

If there are less than 4 consecutive days of sickness in a row, there is no PIW and SSP is not payable.

Linked PIWs

Any two PIWs with you which are separated by 8 weeks, that is 56 days, or less ‘link’ and are treated as one PIW.

An employee can have any number of PIWs which can link together and form one PIW, providing the gap between each one is 8 weeks, that is 56 days, or less. A PIW must always be formed before there can be a link, that is your employee must be sick for at least another 4 days in a row. Odd days of sickness do not form a PIW and so cannot link.

Qualifying Days (QDs)

Qualifying days are the only days for which SSP can be paid. They are also the only days which count as Waiting Days (WDs). QDs are usually the days of the week your employee normally works but you can have other days as QDs if your employee agrees. There must be at least one QD in each week running from Sunday to Saturday. Bank holidays do not alter the normal pattern of working days.

Waiting Days (WDs)

SSP is not payable for the first 3 QDs in a PIW. These are called waiting days (WDs). They are not always the same as the first 3 days of sickness. If PIWs are linked there are no waiting days in the second (or later) spells of sickness.

Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC)

This is the week in which the child is expected to be born. This is also referred to as 'week baby due'. Your SSP programs refer to Expected Week of Confinement. The terms childbirth and confinement are interchangeable.


An employee is disqualified from receiving SSP if that employee has a pregnancy-related illness within 4 weeks of the EWC.


Maternity Pay Period (MPP)

The period of 39 weeks spanning the week in which the baby is expected to be born for which you do not pay SSP. These 39 weeks are known as the 'disqualifying period’.

If the start of the first PIW is within the 39 week disqualifying period, your employee will not be entitled to SSP in any linked PIW.