Statutory Sick Pay for Mental Health
By law, every employer must pay their employees statutory sick pay (SSP) if they can’t work because of a physical or a mental health illness.
The employee must also meet certain eligibility criteria. If you meet the requirements, you do not need to make a claim, as your employer must pay you SSP up to a maximum of 28 weeks.
You are entitled to statutory sick pay if you become ill and are an employee - this includes if your mental health condition makes you ill.
When can I receive Statutory Sick Pay?
You are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if:
- You are classed as an employee and have an employment contract.
- You have been ill and unable to work for at least four days in a row – including non-work days.
- You earn on average at least £120 a week before tax.
- You have informed your employer that you are too ill to work within the deadline they set. If you are too ill to work, many employers like you to tell them on your first day of sickness or the day before you're due to work. If your employer has not set a reporting deadline, you should let them know you cannot work within seven days.
How Mira reported her sickness to work
Mira suffers from anxiety and depression. She performs well at work and is a high achiever.
However, her depression has been growing due to stress. Mira is finding it harder and harder to focus and concentrate.
She feels exhausted and is having trouble sleeping. She wakes up one morning and cannot get out of bed no matter how hard she tries.
Mira wants to work, but she is too ill. So she contacts her line manager to let her know she will not be coming in today.
Mira has followed the statutory sick pay reporting procedure by informing her manager she is too ill to work on the first day her illness prevents her from working.
When am I not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay?
You cannot receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you receive:
- 28 weeks of SSP, and that 28 weeks of SSP ended within the last eight weeks.
- Employment Support Allowance (ESA) (received in the previous 12 weeks).
- Statutory Maternity Pay.
- Maternity Allowance.
- Statutory Paternity Pay.
- Statutory Shared Parental Pay.
- Statutory Adoption Pay.
- Incapacity Benefit.
- Severe Disability Allowance.
- Contribution-based Jobseeker's Allowance.
You will also not receive SSP if:
- You are pregnant, and your baby is due in four weeks or less, and your illness is related to your pregnancy.
- You have had a baby in the last three months.
- You are in the armed forces.
- You are being detained by the police or are in legal custody.
- You are an agricultural worker (different sick pay rules apply).
- You are self-employed (For example, you work for different clients/organisations and complete your self-assessment tax return).
Are there exceptions for mental health?
If you are an employee, and your mental health makes you too ill to work (For example, you experience an extended period of mania making you unable to work), you will be entitled to statutory sick pay. You are not entitled to any extra sick pay for a mental health condition, even if caused by work-related stress. Physical and mental illness both count as sickness.
How much is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?
You can receive a maximum of £96.35 per week as statutory sick pay (SSP 2021-2022 weekly rates), but some employers often pay more. This is called contractual sick pay (CSP) – you should check your employment contract to see what your employer will pay you if you get sick.
You can find out more about SSP rates here.
What happens if I use up all of my Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?
By law, your employer should send you a form called an SSP1 when your SSP is about to end. This form can help you claim another benefit like Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) if you are still too unwell to work when SSP stops.
If your employer does not send you an SSP1 form, you should ask for one from your line manager or a member of the HR or payroll team.
When do I receive my first payment of Statutory Sick Pay
By law, an employer does not have to start paying statutory sick pay (SSP) until the fourth day of sickness absence.
The first three days you are absent from work are called 'qualifying days', and you are not entitled to any SSP for those days.
If you are at work, even just for one minute, and your illness forces you to go home, that day will not be counted as a qualifying day. Your first qualifying day will be the next day you are scheduled to work.
Bill’s SSP qualifying day example
Bill wakes up and gets ready for work. Bill lives with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) but can live and work most of the time effectively.
That morning, Bill is struggling with strong emotions and is feeling very upset and angry.
He has self-harmed before and is familiar with the symptoms of his mental health condition. He also knows his company does not offer contractual sick pay (CSP).
Bill suspects he is too ill to work, but he is worried about money and feels like he should try, so he goes anyway.
After five minutes of being at work, Bill realises he should have stayed at home. He talks to his line manager, who agrees Bill is too sick to work that day.
So he goes home, but his first qualifying day of sickness for statutory sick pay will not be until the next day.
What is contractual sick pay (CSP)
Many organisations now offer contractual sick pay (CSP). CSP means you receive sick pay on your first day of sickness and at a higher rate than SSP.
You should check your contract of employment to see what sickness and benefit options your company offers. If you are unsure, you should talk to your line manager or a company HR or payroll team member.
Do I get statutory sick pay if I am on a zero-hours contract?
You are entitled to statutory sick pay if you are a casual worker or have a zero-hours contract. Still, you must meet the same eligibility conditions listed earlier.
Amil is a casual worker who meets the SSP eligibility
Amil lives with a generalised anxiety disorder. He works shifts in a cinema and can manage his condition 95% of the time through a combination of talking therapies and medication.
Amil has worked at the cinema for five months and receives a weekly rota detailing what days and times he is needed to work. He only works four days a week but earns an average of £130 a week before tax. This is over the £120 weekly minimum.
Amil is entitled to receive SSP on the fourth day of his sickness.
Can I take a holiday if I am off sick due to mental health?
Doctors will often prescribe rest as part of a treatment plan. If you have a mental health condition that might be helped by taking a holiday, you can take annual leave while off sick.
Your illness might mean you are too sick to work, but a holiday could help your recovery. When you take your annual leave, your SSP should stop whilst you are away. If you are still too sick to work when you return, your SSP should start again.
You should inform your line manager of any holiday you wish to book and check any paid annual leave you are entitled to. If your line manager does not know or is unhelpful, you should speak to a member of your organisation's HR or payroll teams.
- What you're entitled to
- Universal Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income Support
- Incapacity Benefit
- Severe Disablement Allowance
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Working Tax Credits
- Personal Independence Payment
- Housing Benefit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
- Council tax: Exemptions and discounts
- Social Fund
- Cold Weather Payment