Work-related benefits

If you have had to stop work because of your cancer or treatment, you may be eligible to receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA) or a sick pay scheme from your employer.

For more information on how the benefits changes will affect you, speak to a welfare adviser at your hospital, or contact CLIC Sargent on 0300 330 0803.

Applying for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

You should tell your employer that you're ill as soon as possible. Your employer may have their own rules for how and when you need to tell them, so it's best to check this with them.

You must also give them a doctor's note if you've been off for more than seven calendar days, so they can claim SSP on your behalf.

You may be able to receive SSP for up to 28 weeks within a three-year period. The standard SSP rate is £88.45 a week*. This should be paid by your employer on your normal payday, in the usual way you receive your wages or salary.

*2015/16 rate

If you have to go into hospital, you can still receive SSP, and if you work for more than one employer, you may be entitled to SSP from each of them.

You can find further information about SSP entitlement on or (Northern Ireland).

If your employer also has their own sick pay scheme

Your employer may pay contractual sick pay. In other words, your normal salary or a proportion of it for a specified period. Ask your manager or HR department what the sickness pay entitlements are for your organisation.

Reaching the end of your entitlement to sick pay

If you still can't work after reaching the end of your entitlement to sick pay,  your employer is likely to consider if it is possible to keep your job open for you. Your employer may be able to both hold your job open for you and agree to extend your sick pay for a bit longer, allow you to take unpaid leave or let you take the extra time off as part of your annual holiday allowance.

If you have Permanent Health Insurance (PHI), you may be entitled to benefits under the policy. Check the terms and speak to your manager or HR department and the provider to make sure.

If you are not sure whether you have PHI, check with your manager or HR department.

Applying for Employment Support Allowance (ESA)

If you still can't work after 28 weeks, you can apply for ESA. If you know you aren't going to be able to return to work after this period, it's a good idea to apply for ESA as early as possible to reduce the likelihood of a gap between sick pay ending and benefit payments starting.

Your employer should notify you in week 23 of the date from which they will no longer pay you SSP. They should also give you a form to take to the Jobcentre Plus so you can claim ESA.

Universal Credit (UC)

UC was introduced in October 2013 (earlier in some pilot areas) and will be introduced in Northern Ireland subject to approval as part of the new Welfare Reform Bill. UC has started to replace certain benefits: Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Employment Support Allowance and Income Support.

There are two types of Employment Support Allowance (ESA): contributory ESA (non-means tested) and income-related ESA (means-tested for people on low incomes). UC will replace income-related ESA.

Following a Work Capability Assessment, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will decide if you fall into one of two groups:

  • The Support Group - the changes to ESA will not affect you and you will continue to receive ESA indefinitely. You will be in this group if your illness or disability severely limits what you can do
  • The Work Related Activity Group - the length of time that you can receive ESA will be limited to a year

Last reviewed: November 2015
Next planned review: December 2016