Cancer and sick pay entitlement
If you work for an employer and take time off sick because of cancer, you may be able to get sick pay.
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – money most workers can get if they are too sick to work.
- Occupational or company sick pay – this is a company’s own sick pay scheme. If your employer has one, it will be written into your contract. The scheme may give you more money by adding an extra amount to SSP. Some employers pay staff in full for a certain number of sick days.
You can claim if you:
- are off work sick for 4 days in a row or more, including non-working days
- earn at least the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) a week on average
- tell your employer you are sick before their deadline, or within 7 days if they do not have one.
Your employer will pay you SSP for up to 28 weeks.
Before your SSP is due to end, your employer should give you a form called SSP1. This form tells you when your last payment will be. You need this form if you want to apply for a benefit called Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). It can also support an application for Universal Credit (UC). You should still receive an SSP1 form even if you did not qualify for SSP.
Speak to your manager or HR department, if you have one, to find out what sick pay they offer and how to claim.
There is more information about how to claim for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on the GOV.UK website.
To qualify for sick pay, you will need to tell your employer you are sick. Your company may have rules or policies about when and how you tell your manager.
If there are no rules of policies, you will need to tell your employer within a week of the first day you are sick, to qualify for SSP. Your employer does not have to pay SSP for any days before this.
After a week, your employer can ask you to provide medical evidence (such as a fit note). They may need this to give you company sick pay or SSP.
You do not have to tell your employer you have cancer if you do not want to. Call our Work Support Service on 0808 808 00 00 to find out how we can support you.
If you are self-employed, you will not get sick pay. But you can still apply for other benefits if you cannot work or your income decreases. For example, if you lose some of your income, you may be able to get:
If you already get certain benefits such as Housing Benefit or tax credits, you should get advice before applying for UC. These benefits will stop, and you may get less money if you apply. You can speak to our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our financial help and benefits information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
GOV.UK www.gov.uk (accessed January 2022).
Benefits and pension rates 2021 to 2022. www.gov.uk/government/publications/benefit-and-pension-rates-2021-to-2022/benefit-and-pension-rates-2021-to-2022 (accessed January 2022).
nidirect.gov.uk www.nidirect.gov.uk (accessed January 2022).
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by Macmillan professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Macmillan’s Welfare Rights team.
Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.