Statutory Sick Pay (SSP): employer guide

Notice and fit notes


The employee should tell you they’re sick within the time limit set by you, or 7 days if you do not have one. You cannot:

  • insist they tell you in person or on a special form
  • ask them for proof of their sickness until they have been off for 7 days (including non-working days)

You do not have to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for any days the employee was late in telling you (unless there’s a good reason for the delay).


An employee is sick from Monday 6 June. They usually work from Monday to Friday.

You’ve set your time limit at 5 days’ notice, but they only tell you they’re sick after 7 days (on Monday 13 June).

You do not have to pay them SSP for the 2 days they were late telling you.

You start paying SSP on Thursday 16 June - on the fourth ‘qualifying day’ (days an employee usually works on) after they told you they were sick.

If an employee is shielding because of coronavirus (COVID-19)

The time limit for an employee to tell you they are ‘shielding’ depends on when they got their letter from the NHS or a GP telling them they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

If your employee got a letter before 16 April, they should have told you they were shielding by 23 April 2020.

For any letters received on or after 16 April, they should tell you within the time limit set by you (or within 7 days if you have not set one).

Fit notes and asking for proof

After 7 days off sick (including non-working days) you can ask the employee for proof of their sickness. This could be:

  • an isolation note from NHS 111 - if they are self-isolating and cannot work because of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • the notification from the NHS or public health authorities if they are self-isolating because they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus
  • an NHS or GP letter telling them to shield
  • a fit note from their doctor or a hospital (sometimes called a sick note) - if they have any other illness

If you agree, they can give you a report from a physiotherapist, podiatrist or occupational therapist, (called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work report)

You cannot withhold SSP if the employee is late sending you a fit note or isolation note.

If your employee is off sick frequently or for a long time, HMRC has information about getting medical advice.