Claiming benefits if you stop working

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

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

SSP is paid by your employer if you’re too sick to work. You’ll get £92.05  a week* as long as you are classed as an employee, earn at least £116 per week* and have been ill for at least four days in a row. This includes agency workers. You must give your employer a doctor's note if you've been off for more than seven calendar days.

*2018/19 rates

You can receive SSP for up to 28 weeks within a three-year period. SSP 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.

You can find more information about SSP at or 

If your employer 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 chance of a gap between your 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.

If you're looking for work or on a low income

Universal Credit is a monthly payment for people who are looking for work or on a low income. It has started replacing some of the existing income-related benefits for people aged 16 to 64. 

Extra funds are available for people with a disability or health condition, childcare costs or caring responsibilities. This means that parents supporting their child can apply, as well as young people aged 18 or over. 

Where next?

Updated January 2018, next review due 2019.