Understanding Long-Term Sick Pay: Your Rights and Benefits

long term sickness, sick pay, sick leave

Long term sickness pay is a crucial component of employee benefits packages. It provides a financial cushion for those who need to take long-term medical leave due to long-term illness, injury or disability and helps ensure that long-term absences don't significantly impact their livelihoods.

Learn more in this article about long-term sick pay entitlements, sick payment periods and the benefits you can claim while on long-term sick pay.

What is long-term sick pay?

Long-term sick pay refers to the financial compensation provided to employees who cannot work due to illness or injury for an extended period.

Employees and employers must clearly understand their entitlements and options when dealing with long-term sick leave, as it can have significant financial and practical implications.

It is also essential for employees to be aware of their rights when it comes to sick pay, as a large number of employees may be unaware of the full extent of their entitlements.

Understanding these entitlements and working together can help to make the process of dealing with long-term sick leave as smooth as possible for all parties involved.

Long-term sick employee pay entitlements

In the UK, most long-term sick staff are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) if they cannot work due to illness or injury.

To be eligible for SSP, employees must earn a minimum of £120 per week and work for at least four days in a row, including non-working days. SSP is paid for up to 28 weeks and is currently £95.85 per week.

However, it is essential to note that SSP is not issued for the first three days of absence switching, known as "waiting days". Most employees may claim back pay for these waiting days if for more than 1than four days.

To SSP, some employers offer occupational sick pay, which may be more Employees need to check it essential for staff to check their company's sick pay policies to understand their entitlements.

Some companies may offer full pay for specific days, while others offer reduced or no pay. It is also worth noting that staff may be able to claim back pay if they do not receive the correct amount of sick pay per their contract or company policy.

Also, public sector organisations managing long-term sick leave should be aware of the legal implications and take appropriate steps to ensure compliance with regulations.

This includes keeping accurate records, providing a safe working environment for employees who have returned from sickness absence, and ensuring that reasonable adjustments are made where necessary.

Taking these steps can help to reduce disruption caused by long-term sick leave and ensure that absent employees can return to work as soon as possible.

What counts as long-term sickness?

Indisposed woman feeling her temperature while resting on the sofa at home-1

Long-term sickness is generally defined as an absence from work due to illness or injury that lasts four weeks or more. However, the time needed to qualify as long-term sickness may vary depending on the terms of an employee's contract and their company's sick pay policy.

Some specific conditions, such as pregnancy or a disability, may also be considered long-term sickness.

Employees need to understand what counts as long-term sickness, as this can impact their entitlements to sick pay and other benefits. For example, employees off work for more than seven days may be required to provide a sick note, also known as a fit note, from their doctor.

This can help to confirm the employee's illness and the expected duration of their absence. In some cases, employers may require staff to provide additional medical evidence to support their claim for sick pay or other benefits.

When it comes to company absence rules, several factors need to be taken into account. Firstly, employees should be aware of the time needed to qualify as long-term sickness, depending on the terms of their contract and their employer's sick pay policy.

This can range from four weeks or more for some illnesses or maybe longer for specific conditions such as pregnancy or a disability. Additionally, staff should check if their company has any additional requirements for long-term sickness absences.

Suppose an employee is unsure about anything related to the definition and entitlements associated with long-term sickness. In that case, they must seek advice from their employer or

Human Resources department. This will ensure that employees are fully aware of the terms and conditions around long-term sickness absence and any other information relevant to their situation.

By taking the time to understand what counts as long-term sickness absence and familiarising themselves with their company's policies on this issue, employees can ensure that they receive the benefits and support to which they are entitled.

Pregnancy and disability: special cases

Pregnant employees are entitled to statutory maternity leave and pay in the UK. This includes time off for antenatal care and up to 52 weeks of leave or annual leave, 39 of which may be paid.

Pregnant staff are also entitled to time off for appointments related to their pregnancy, and their employer cannot require them to work overtime or additional hours.

Disabled employees may also be entitled to additional leave and support, depending on their specific needs and the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

Employers have a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to support disabled employees and ensure that they are not disadvantaged. This may include providing additional leave or flexible working arrangements.

How long can you be on long-term sickness?

The maximum duration link period of long-term sick leave is generally 28 weeks, after which an employee may be eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

However, the length of time an employee can be on long-term sick leave may be annual or extended, depending on their specific circumstances and any additional support they may be entitled to. For example, sick staff off work due to pregnancy, health conditions or a disability may be entitled to additional leave.

Employees must keep in touch with their employer and provide regular updates on their health and expected return to work date.

This can help ensure that the employee's job is open for them and that they can return to work smoothly. In some cases, it may be possible for an employee to return to work on a phased basis, which can help them gradually adjust to working hours.

Other smaller companies may implement policies to support allowance for employees on long-term sick leave. This could include providing additional pay or flexible working arrangements to help them manage their health and recovery while continuing to work.

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What benefits can I claim on long-term sick?

In addition to statutory sick pay and statutory sick pay SSP, staff on long-term sickness absence leave may be eligible for ESA, a benefit the UK government provides to support individuals unable to work due to sickness or disability.

To be eligible for ESA, employees must have been off work for at least four days in a row, including non-working days, and must provide a fit note from their doctor. ESA is issued at an introductory rate of £96.35 per week but may be higher for those with additional care or mobility needs.

Other benefits to staff on long-term sickness absence leave include Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payment. These benefits are designed to support those with a disability or long-term health condition and can help with the additional costs associated with these conditions.

Employees need to understand their entitlements and seek advice if needed. This can help to ensure that they are receiving the correct amount of sick pay and other benefits like accruing annual leave, and holiday pay and can help to ease the financial burden for a further period.


Company sick pay policies can have significant financial and practical impacts on employees and employers. Both parties must understand their entitlements and options for dealing with long-term sick leave.

This includes understanding company sick pay policies and support available through benefits such as ESA. Staying informed and seeking support when needed can help to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible for all involved.

It is also essential for employees to understand their rights regarding sick pay and to ensure that they receive the correct amount. In some cases, employees may need to provide medical evidence or a work note to support their claim for sick pay or other benefits.

Employers also have a legal obligation to support employees' health in long term to make reasonable workplace adjustments, if necessary. By understanding their entitlements and working together, employees and employers can help to ensure that the process of dealing with long-term absence sick leave is as smooth as possible.

Employee Regulations
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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