Most practices do not operate Company Sick Pay Schemes; unfortunately in this day and age it is a costly benefit to give and is, therefore, becoming a lot less common. There is no legal obligation for the employer to offer company sick pay – their only obligation is to follow the legal guidelines below.

You should also check carefully your contract and handbook. This will usually have clear guidelines about sickness and how to adhere to the practice’s policy. In some policies, you will need to contact your practice to keep it up to date with how you are – if it is a requirement of the policy to keep in touch and you don’t, it can then turn into a disciplinary matter for failure to follow a procedure.

So our advice is to read your contract and handbook carefully to make sure you are aware of your commitments to the practice, but also so you are aware of its commitments to you.

Sickness & Sick Pay

If you are an employee and unable to work because you are ill, you may be able to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). It is paid by your employer and can be paid for up to 28 weeks.

If you’re working for an employer under a contract of service (even if you’ve only just started and you have done some work), you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if the following apply:

•  you are sick for at least four days in a row (including weekends and bank holidays and days that you do not normally work)

•  you have average weekly earnings of at least £109 (before tax) a week.

To receive SSP you must:

•  tell your employer that you are sick

•  if asked by your employer, provide some form of medical evidence, from the eighth day of your illness.

How much will you receive?

From 6 April 2013, the standard weekly rate for SSP has been £86.70 a week – your employer will work out a daily rate of SSP, if necessary. They will do this by dividing the weekly rate by the number of days you’d normally work in that week.

For calculating SSP, a week runs from Sunday to Saturday.

SSP is usually paid on your normal pay day in the same way as your normal earnings.

SSP is subject to tax and National Insurance contributions. If you only receive SSP, your earnings may not be high enough to pay tax unless you receive other payments on top of your SSP.

What happens if you are not eligible for SSP or it ends?

If you not entitled to SSP, or SSP has ended, your employer must fill in Form SSP1 and give this to you. On the form, your employer must say why SSP has not been paid or why it is ending and the last date of payment.

Form SSP1 is used to support a claim for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). It is important that your employer gives this form to you as soon as possible. Without the information on the form a decision on your entitlement to ESA cannot be made, which may delay payment.

Company Sick Pay Schemes

If your employer has a sick pay scheme, which is equal to, or more than SSP, they do not have to operate the SSP scheme. They may also have different rules for payment, which you must keep to receive payment.

If you are sick after 28 weeks of company sick pay, or if this ends earlier and you are not entitled to SSP, your employer must give you Form SSP1 for you to claim Employment and Support Allowance. They should do this as soon as possible.

If you disagree with your employer’s decision about SSP, ask your employer for a reason if you think:

•  their decision not to pay you SSP is wrong

•  you’re not getting the right amount of SSP. 

If you still disagree, you can telephone the BVNA legal helpline on 01822 870270, where the team will be able to provide you with practical advice and support. 

For further support with this or any other HR issue, BVNA members can call the BVNA IRS Helpline on 01822 870270 or e-mail


Nicky Ackerley BA(Hons)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA's Industrial Relations Service since it began in 2002.

• VOL 28 • November 2013 • Veterinary Nursing Journal