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Shielding and Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)


To qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) you must:

  • be classed as an employee and have done some work for your employer
  • earn an average of at least £120 per week
  • have been ill, self-isolating or ‘shielding’ for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days)

How many days you can get SSP for depends on why you’re off work.

Agency workers are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.

Telling your employer

You must usually tell your employer you’re unable to work before the deadline they set (or within 7 days if they have not set one).

There is a different deadline if you’re at high risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) and got your NHS or GP letter before 16 April. You must tell your employer by 23 April.

You could lose some of your SSP if you do not tell your employer in time.


You will not qualify if you:

You can still qualify if you started your job recently and you have not received 8 weeks’ pay yet. Ask your employer to find out more.

Linked periods of sickness

If you have regular periods of sickness, they may count as ‘linked’. To be linked, the periods must:

  • last 4 or more days each
  • be 8 weeks or less apart

You’re no longer eligible for SSP if you have a continuous series of linked periods that lasts more than 3 years.

Fit notes and asking for proof

You only have to give your employer a fit note (sometimes called a sick note) if you’re off sick for more than 7 days in a row (including non-working days).

You can get a fit note from your GP or hospital doctor. If your employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist instead. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report.

Proof if you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus

If you’re self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus, you can get an ‘isolation note’ online from NHS 111 if you’re off work for 7 or more days. You do not have to go to your GP or a hospital.

If you have a letter from the NHS or a GP telling you to take extra precautions because you’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (known as ‘shielding’), it will include the period you should shield for. The letter is proof of your eligibility for SSP for days away from work in that period.

You may get more than one letter covering more than one shielding period. Contact your GP if you do not have a letter but think you should have one.

If you’ve been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus, your notification is proof.

You cannot get SSP if you’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.

If you’re not eligible or your SSP ends

You may be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). You can use form SSP1 to support your application.

If your SSP is ending your employer must send you form SSP1 either:

  • within 7 days of your SSP ending, if it ends unexpectedly while you’re still sick
  • on or before the beginning of the 23rd week, if your SSP is expected to end before your sickness does

If you do not qualify for SSP your employer must send you form SSP1 within 7 days of you going off sick.

Published: 18th August 2020

Source: GOV UK

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