The cost of illness

Illness and work

Illness and work

The information in this guide was last updated on 26/02/2014

It’s important to let your employer know as soon as possible if you’re too sick to work. Not doing so can affect your right to sick pay and it could also sour your relationship with your employer. While you’re off sick, it’s a good idea to keep in touch with your employer so you don’t become too removed from what’s going on in your workplace.

Sick leave

If you’re off work for more than seven calendar days, you’ll need to get a note from your doctor. This will either say:

  • you're unfit for work or,
  • you may be fit for work. In this case your employer needs to consider things that could help you return to work, for example, changing your hours.

Sick pay

If you’re an employee you’re likely to continue to receive some money if you’re too ill to work, at least initially. You can get this in one of two ways.

  • Company schemes

If your company has a sick pay scheme, they will pay you as outlined in your contract of employment. This might be less than you’d normally be paid, but it can’t be less than Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

  • Statutory Sick Pay

If you’re earning at least £109 a week, you can claim SSP after you’ve been off work for more than four days.

SSP is currently £86.70 a week (based on current data from the Department of work and pensions.) It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks. Once this stops, you may be able to qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This replaces Incapacity Benefit and is paid by the Department of Work and Pensions. Those who are employed and don't earn enough to receive SSP and the self employed can apply for ESA after three weeks.

Protecting your finances