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.
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.
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)
Universal Credit is a monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income aged 16 to 64, and is being gradually rolled out across Great Britain. It may also be introduced from 2017 in Northern Ireland. Young people aged 18 or over, who are not in full-time education, are eligible to apply and extra funds are available for people with a disability or health condition, childcare costs or caring responsibilities.
UC has started to replace certain benefits: Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Employment Support Allowance and Income Support.
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.
Find out more about Universal Credit in our benefits section.
Updated January 2017, next review due December 2017.