Can an Employer Refuse to pay Statutory Sick Pay if the Employee has not Complied with the Notification Requirements?

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 6 June 2023
Chris Fullerton
Arthur Cox NI
Issues covered: Sickness and Absence; Statutory Sick Pay

If an employee is unwell and unable to work, provided that they meet certain qualifying conditions, they are entitled to receive Statutory Sick Pay (‘SSP’). If these qualifying conditions are not met, or if an employer has good reason to believe that an employee is abusing the sickness procedure, then it can generally withhold SSP from the employee.

One of the qualifying conditions is notifying the employer of incapacity to work due to sickness within a prescribed time frame. If an employee has not been notified in advance of any time limits to adhere to through, for example, a company’s sickness and absence policy, then the default time limit is set as no later than seven days after the first day of sickness.

Therefore, where an employee notifies their employer of their incapacity to work more than the prescribed time limit and the employer does not accept there was good cause for delay the employer can withhold payment of SSP per Article 152(2)(a) of the Social Security Contributions and Benefits (Northern Ireland) Act 1992.

It is perhaps worth considering the wording of the following paragraph of this legislation, namely Article 156(3) that provides that any withheld SSP does not affect the employee’s 28-week maximum entitlement of SSP. The SSP is withheld until the point of notification of the employee’s incapacity of work and paid for the period thereafter.

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 06/06/2023

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Chris Fullerton
Arthur Cox NI

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