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Statutory Sick, Statutory Maternity And Statutory Paternity Pay

Statutory Sick, Statutory Maternity and Statutory Paternity Pay

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Statutory  Maternity Pay (SMP),  Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP) and  Shared Parental Pay (ShPP) are important regulations to understand  as they enforce minimum legal requirements on employers. Each operates in a  different way.

This factsheet sets out the main principles of the regulations and what an employer needs to consider.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

SSP applies to all employers, regardless of size and represents the minimum payments which should be paid by law.

It is possible to opt out of the scheme but only if an employer's occupational sick pay scheme is equal to or more than SSP. There would still be a requirement to keep appropriate records, etc.

We have outlined the general principles below but first we need to explain some of the special terms used.

Glossary of terms

Period of incapacity for work (PIW)

A PIW consists of four or more calendar days of sickness in a row. These do not have to be normal working days.


Where one PIW starts within eight weeks of the end of a previous PIW the periods can be linked.

Qualifying days (QDs)

These are usually the employee's normal working days unless other days have been agreed.

SSP is paid for each qualifying day once the waiting days have passed.

Waiting days (WDs)

The first three QDs in a PIW are called WDs. SSP is not payable for WDs.

Where PIWs are linked it is only the first three days of the first PIW which are WDs.

Who qualifies for SSP?

All employees who, at the beginning of a  PIW or linked PIWs, have had average weekly earnings above the Lower Earnings  Limit (LEL) of £113 for 2017/18.

Employees must have notified you about their sickness - either within your own time limit or within seven days.

They must give evidence of their incapacity. Employees can self-certify their absence for the first consecutive seven days; thereafter, form Med3 (Fit Note) is required from their General Practitioner.

How much SSP is payable?

The weekly rate of SSP is £89.35 for  2017/18 but it is computed at a daily rate.

The daily rate

The daily rate may vary for different  employees. It is calculated by dividing the weekly rate by the number of  qualifying days in a week. For example an employee with a five day working week  would have a daily rate of £17.87 for 2017/18.

Only QDs qualify for SSP and remember the first three days (WDs) do not qualify.

Maximum SSP

The maximum entitlement is 28 weeks in each period of sickness or linked PIW.

Employers  are not able to recover SSP paid for sickness absences.

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and records

SSP is included in gross pay and PAYE is operated as normal.

Employers should  monitor sickness absence and maintain detailed records as these will be  required for PAYE purposes.

Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)

SMP is paid to female employees or former employees who have had or are about to have a baby.

The payment of SMP is compulsory where the employee fulfils certain requirements.

The requirements

SMP is payable provided the employee has:

  • started her maternity leave
  • given 28 days notice of her maternity leave (unless with good reason)
  • provided medical evidence with a form (MATB1)
  • been employed continuously for 26 weeks up to and including her qualifying week
  • had average weekly earnings (AWE) above the LEL in the relevant period.

It is important to note that mothers have a legal entitlement to take up to 52 weeks off around the time of the birth of their baby, whether or not they qualify for SMP. This means that mothers can choose to take up to one year off in total.

The amount payable

The rates of SMP, SPP, statutory shared parental pay and statutory adoption  pay are at £140.98 per  week (or 90% of the person's average weekly earnings if that is less than £140.98 for 2017/18).

SMP is payable for a maximum of 39 weeks. The date the baby is due, as shown on the MATB1 certificate, determines the maternity pay period entitlement and not the date the baby is born. The rates of SMP are as follows:

  • first six weeks at 90% of AWE (see below)
  • up to a further 33 weeks at the lower of:


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