In the spring budget, The Chancellor of the Exchequer made changes to the provision for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which included a £3 weekly increase to the minimum amount that employees are legally entitled to.
What has changed?
From the 6th of April, the £3 per week increase takes statutory sick pay from £96.35 per week to £99.35 per week.
If you are self-employed then you are normally unable to claim statutory sick pay but may be eligible for other benefits. You can find more information about SSP in our article "What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?"
How will the changes to statutory sick pay affect you?
Employees working under a contract, earning a minimum of £123 per week on average who have been unable to work for at least 4 consecutive days (including non-work days) are legally entitled to statutory sick pay of £99.35 per week, an increase of £3 per week. Statutory sick pay is payable for up to 28 weeks of absence due to incapacity to work. All sick pay, statutory and otherwise, is paid by the employer and is subject to national insurance and income tax applied to earnings. Whether the £3 per week increase will do much to alleviate the financial strain caused by illness remains to be seen. Critics state that the £3 weekly increase falls way short of the current rate of inflation, currently sitting at 6.2%.
The rate of statutory sick pay in the UK has been historically low in comparison to neighbouring countries. England currently sits third from the bottom in the rankings for sick pay in Europe with countries such as Iceland, Norway and Denmark paying a statutory amount equivalent to 100%, with some countries opting to pay it for up to 89 weeks.
Changes to SSP and Covid-19
The recent increase in statutory sick pay follows announcements in March that absence from work due to Covid would fall back in line with the normal qualifying period for statutory sick pay. From the 24th of March this year, those unable to work due to Covid must complete a qualifying period of 4 days, having previously been reduced to 1 day in March 2020 due to the pandemic. Read our article "Statutory sick pay changes - what do they mean for you?" for more information.
Ways to enhance the sick pay you are entitled to
Understanding what sick pay you are entitled to can allow you to work out where you may face shortfalls in the event that you became ill. For many people, savings may not last long enough and statutory sick pay provisions could fall short of what is needed to meet a household's essential costs. Sick pay insurance can plug the gap and you can read more about it in our "Sick pay insurance guide".