How Statutory Sick Pay affects Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises


Employees are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay of £89.35 per week, paid by employers, when they’re too ill to work. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) looking to support their workforce can gain a real business win by going beyond the minimum.

For SMEs, with fewer resources than large corporations, a happy and motivated workforce is vital. One way that can increase loyalty and productivity is by offering employees support when they need it most – during illness.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is there for exactly those moments. Employers pay £89.35 per week for up to 28 weeks if the worker has been off work sick for four or more days in a row.

But what does that actually equate to?

If almost £90 sounds somewhat feasible to live on, bear in mind what expenses are coming out of that pot – not just food and travel costs, but also all household bills and mortgage/rent payments. It’s a daunting challenge, especially if there are children to look after as well.


Unum, an income protection insurer, talked to 6 people at random about SSP. As this video  shows, workers in London don’t think it would be possible to live off SSP. Many aren’t even aware of how much they are entitled to receive*.

The pressure of living off reduced means is liable to create a lot of stress for employees at what is already a vulnerable time.

For an employer, offering more than the minimum through a sickness insurance scheme can reduce those worries. And with less stress comes a happier, more productive workforce, with reduced staff turnover1.


A The cost of sickness absence for companies can be highly unpredictable. It can be difficult to plan for how much sickness absence will cost the business – a particular issue for SMEs with fewer staff available to cover absent colleagues.

For example, if an employee is off sick for four weeks, the employer would pay out £357.40 in SSP. Plus, if a temporary worker is brought in for three of those weeks on an average of, say, £100 per day, that makes an extra £1,500. The total cost of the absence is therefore £1857.40.

By contrast, a basic income protection policy is a set monthly premium and can cost as little as £200 per employee, per year2 – a fixed amount that SMEs can budget for accordingly.

For employers, offering more than SSP can be a cost-saving device protecting both their people and their business. Employees who feel looked after by the business can feel more engaged at work when they are back healthy and happy.


1 HBR. (2015). Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive

2 Unum. (2017). Health insurance: a simple guide

Disclaimer: The video referenced in this article is made by Unum, an insurer who offer this type of income protection. Unum is one of Elect’s insurance providers. 

*In the video, one of the subjects states that that you don’t get SSP for the first 4 days – for clarification, you would get if at day 4.