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.
If you work for an employer and take time off sick, you may be able to get sick pay. This could be 1 of the following:
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) – this is money most employees 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.
Your employer will pay you SSP for up to 28 weeks.
You can claim SSP 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.
The government sets the LEL each tax year. To see the current amount, visit gov.uk.
Getting a SSP1 form
Before your SSP ends, your employer should give you a form called SSP1. This form tells you when your last payment will be.
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.
If you are off sick for more than 7 days, you will need a fit note to cover your illness. This is also called a sick note or a Statement of Fitness for Work. This explains how your health affects what you can do at work.
You can get a fit note from any healthcare professional who has been treating you. For example, this could be your:
- specialist nurse
- occupational therapist
You need a fit note to get sick pay and to claim benefits. It also allows your cancer doctor or other healthcare professionals to say how your condition affects your ability to work. This helps your employer understand how they might help you keep working or return to work.
For more information, visit the UK Government website gov.uk.
Check whether your employer has rules or policies about when and how you tell them you are taking time off sick.
If there are none, to qualify for sick pay, you will need to tell your employer within a week of the first day you are sick.
Your employer does not have to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for any days before this.
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 for free on 0808 808 00 00.
You may be unable to work during your cancer treatment. There are different benefits that you may be able to get.
Dealing with money and benefits can be stressful at any time. But it can be particularly hard when you are already coping with cancer.
- Macmillan Grants
- government benefits
- debt advice through our charity partner StepChange Debt Charity.
Below is a sample of the sources used in our work and cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Citizens Advice www.citizensadvice.org.uk (accessed May 2022).
GOV.UK www.gov.uk (accessed May 2022).
NI Direct www.nidirect.gov.uk (accessed May 2022).
This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been approved by Michelle Rouse Griffiths, Professional Development and Knowledge Lead, Macmillan Cancer Support and Liz Egan, formerly with Macmillan’s Work and cancer 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.
How we can help
Chat online anonymously to others who understand what you are going through. Our community is available 24/7 and has dedicated forums where you can get advice and ask our experts.