Long-Term Sick Pay UK: The Entitlements Guide for Employers

employee at home on long term sick leave

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

What is long-term sick pay?

Long-term sick pay ( LTSP) 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.

What counts as long-term sickness?

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

In the UK, long-term sickness is generally defined as an absence from work due to illness or injury that lasts four weeks or more. However, there is no one-size-fits-all definition, and the specific criteria may vary depending on the employer's sick pay scheme or the employee's circumstances.

Here are some general guidelines for what counts as long-term sickness:

  • The absence must be due to illness or injury. This can include physical or mental health conditions, as well as chronic or recurring illnesses.

  • The absence must be continuous. This means that the employee must be unable to work for the entire period of their absence. If they are able to return to work for even a short period of time, their absence will not be considered continuous.

  • The absence must be for a period of four weeks or more. However, some employers may have a shorter qualifying period for long-term sick pay.

Here are some examples of conditions that may be considered long-term sickness:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety
  • Musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis and back pain

If you are unsure whether or not you meet the criteria for long-term sickness, you should speak to your employer or your doctor.

Long term sick pay and Statutory sick pay

Despite their similarities, long-term pay and statutory sick pay (SSP) are not the same.

What is Statutory Sick pay ( SSP)?

Statutory sick pay is a legal entitlement that all employees in the UK are entitled to if they are unable to work due to illness or injury. It is paid by the employer and is for a maximum of 28 weeks. 

The current rate of statutory sick pay (SSP) in the UK is £109.40 per week. This rate is effective from April 6, 2023, and will remain in effect until the next scheduled increase in April 2024.

 To be eligible for SSP, employees must:

  • Be classed as an employee and have done some work for their employer.
  • Earn an average of at least £123 per week (before tax).
  • Be sick for at least four days in a row (including weekends and non-working days).

Employees may start claiming SSP from the fourth day of your absence, and will be paid for all the days they are off sick that they normally would have worked, except for the first three days.

Long-term sick pay

Long-term pay is a voluntary payment that employers may make to employees who are absent from work due to illness or injury for a longer period of time. There is no legal requirement for employers to pay long-term pay, and the amount and duration of payments will vary depending on the employer's scheme.

In some cases, employers may choose to pay long-term pay after the employee has exhausted their SSP entitlement. In other cases, employers may have a separate long-term pay scheme that provides additional benefits to employees who are absent from work for a longer period of time.

Here is a table summarizing the key differences between SSP and long-term pay:

Feature Long term sick pay Statutory sick pay
Legal entitlement No Yes
Paid by Employer Employer
Maximum duration May vary 28 weeks
Amount May vary £109.40 per week
Voluntary or mandatory Voluntary Mandatory


How much is long-term sick pay?

The rate of long-term sick pay (LTSP) varies depending on the employer's sick pay scheme. However, it must be at least the statutory minimum rate, which is £99.35 per week for employees who have been with their employer for less than six months, and £118.15 per week for employees who have been with their employer for six months or more.

Employment period Long-term sick pay
Less than 6 months £99.35 per week
6 months or more £118.15 per week


How long can an employee receive long-term sick pay?

Employees can receive LTSP for up to six months. However, employer may be able to extend this period if you are still unable to work after six months.

What happens after  long-term sick pay ends?

If an employee is still unable to work after your LTSP ends, you can claim Employment Support Allowance ( ESA) from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). ESA is a benefit paid to people who are unable to work due to a long-term illness or disability.

Long-term sick pay Universal Credit

Employees on LTSP and who are also eligible for Universal Credit, can claim both benefits at the same time. The Universal Credit payment will be reduced by the amount of LTSP received.

To claim Universal Credit, employees must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be living in the UK
  • You must be aged 16 or over
  • You must be a British citizen, an Irish citizen, or have settled or pre-settled status in the UK
  • You must be seeking work or have limited capability for work

The Universal Credit can be claimed online, by phone, or by post.

Long-term sick pay after 28 weeks

After 28 weeks of being sick, employers are no longer legally obliged to pay statutory sick pay (SSP). However, they may still choose to pay LTSP, depending on their own sick pay scheme.

If an employer does not LTSP, employees may claim ESA from the DWP. ESA is a benefit paid to people who are unable to work due to a long-term illness or disability.

How much ESA can employees receive?

The amount of ESA employees receive will depend on the circumstances. Employees can check how much they will receive by using the ESA calculator on the GOV.UK website.

What happens if an employee doesn't qualify for ESA?

If an employee does not qualify for ESA, they may still be able to get help from the DWP. The DWP can provide employees with advice and support on how to manage their finances and find work.

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Long-term sick holiday pay entitlement

Employees on long-term sick leave, may still be entitled to accrued holiday pay. This is holiday pay that you have earned but have not yet taken.

The amount of accrued holiday pay employees are entitled to will depend on the employer's holiday pay scheme. However, employees are legally entitled to at least 28 days of paid holiday per year.

How can employees claim accrued holiday pay?

Employees should speak to their employer about their accrued holiday pay entitlement. The employer should be able to tell how much holiday pay has been accrued and how to claim it.

What if an employer refuses to pay accrued holiday pay?

If an employer refuses to pay accrued holiday pay, employees may take legal action. Employees can also contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) for advice and support.


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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