Statutory Sick Pay Guide for Employers (2011-2012)

Example - Weekly paid employee

This Sick Pay Guide is reference only. For the most up-to-date advice see the Statutory Sick Pay Guide for Employers (2012-2013)

Operating the SSP Scheme

Has your employee given you the right medical evidence?

Evidence of incapacity for work

You must tell your employees what you expect them to give you as evidence of incapacity for SSP purposes and when you expect them to give it.

Incapacity for four to seven days

For spells of sickness lasting four to seven days, you may accept self-certification verbally or by letter, or they can use form SC2 for self-certification, or your own equivalent form.

Incapacity lasts more than seven days

If your employee is sick for more than seven days, you can ask them to give you some form of medical evidence or a fit note from their doctor to support payment of SSP.

As an employer, the decision on whether or not evidence of illness is required, and if so, what evidence is acceptable, ultimately rests with you.

Remember a doctor’s fit note is strong evidence of incapacity and should usually be accepted as conclusive unless there is more compelling evidence to the contrary.

You can’t withhold SSP for late receipt of medical evidence. The late receipt of medical evidence could be, for example, because your employee is unable to get an appointment with their GP by the eighth day of incapacity or that their sickness has unexpectedly continued or recurred into the eighth day and an appointment with their GP has only just been arranged.

You may also find that your employee gives you certificates from someone who is not a registered medical practitioner, such as:

  • osteopaths
  • chiropractors
  • Christian Scientists
  • herbalists
  • acupuncturists.

You should consider such certificates on their own merits. It is for you to decide whether or not you accept this evidence. If you have any doubts you can still ask for a doctor’s fit note.

GP fit note statements on fitness for work

The fit notes allow GPs to advise whether an employee should refrain from work, and also advise whether it would be appropriate for them to do some work. This gives employers greater flexibility in managing sickness absence. If the GP states that the employee may be fit for work, the doctor will provide additional information which will help employers consider whether basic adjustments could be made to assist someone to return to work. (For example, allowing someone with back pain to take regular breaks away from their desk for exercise).

The employer is not bound to implement the doctor’s suggested changes which will be provided at the discretion of employers and with the agreement of the employee. Where no changes are made, the employee does not need to return to their GP for further medical evidence, the current medical statement should be considered as evidence of the individual being unfit for work for sick pay purposes.

For more information on the Statement of Fitness for Work see our item business advice article on the fit note.

Doubts about your employee’s sickness

If you have strong doubts about your employee’s sickness but don’t have access to your own ‘works’ doctor, you can ask HMRC to arrange for your employee to be medically examined by their medical services provider.

The Medical Services report will give an opinion on your employee’s fitness for work in their job with you. This will help you to decide if the employee is incapable of work in their job with you or not.

You can also use this service where the employee has been repeatedly off sick for four to seven days in a relatively short period.

There is an example of a letter you may wish to use to advise your employee that you consider they are not entitled to SSP for this reason, on page 22.

If you wish to get advice from Medical Services, you should write to;

HM Revenue and Customs National Insurance Contributions & Employer Office,
Statutory Payments Disputes Team,
Room BP2002,
Benton Park View,
Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE98 1ZZ

explaining that you are seeking Medical Services help about your employee.

Employee provides you with a non-UK medical certificate

If your employee provides you with a non-UK medical certificate for a period when they were abroad during sick absence that requires translation into English, HMRC can only arrange translation where you are in dispute with your employee on their SSP entitlement, otherwise you should refer the medical certificate to an outside translator.

Statutory Sick Pay Guide © Crown Copyright 2011

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