Feeling unwell and unable to work can be stressful, especially when you’re unsure about your rights and the procedures to follow to ensure you receive the support you’re entitled to. In Northern Ireland, understanding the process of self-certification for sickness, and how it relates to sick pay, is crucial for both employees and employers. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the process, ensuring you know exactly what steps to take when sickness strikes.

Introduction to Self-Cert Sick Line NI

When you’re unable to work due to illness, the first step is often to inform your employer about your condition. In Northern Ireland, if your illness lasts seven days or less, you can self-certify your sickness. This means you do not need a doctor’s note (also known as a “Fit Note”) for this initial period. However, if your illness extends beyond seven days, obtaining a Fit Note becomes necessary. Let’s delve into the specifics of self-certification and explore how it ties into your entitlement to sick pay.

Understanding Self-Certification

Self-certification is a straightforward process designed to simplify the initial stages of sickness absence. It involves filling out a form—provided by your employer or downloadable from the HMRC website—where you detail your illness and the days you were off work. This self-certification serves as your evidence of being unfit for work for the first seven days of sickness. You need to confirm your illness in writing – this is called ‘self-certification’. You’ll need to do this within 7 days of telling your employer you’re sick. You can use the employee’s statement of sickness form on GOV.UK.

How to Get Sick Pay

Sick pay entitlement can be a bit more complex. There are two main types of sick pay in the UK: Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and Company Sick Pay (also known as Occupational Sick Pay). SSP is the minimum amount employers must legally provide to qualifying employees. To qualify for SSP, you must:

  • Be employed and have done some work for your employer.
  • Earn an average of at least £120 per week (before tax).
  • Have been sick for at least four consecutive days (including non-working days).

SSP is payable for up to 28 weeks, offering financial support while you recover. The rate for SSP is subject to change, so it’s wise to check the current rate on the official government website or consult with Contend, your AI legal assistant, for the most up-to-date information.

For help with questions related to your issue, you can chat with one of Contend’s legal experts, and get immediate answers to your legal questions.

Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Certification

  1. Inform Your Employer: As soon as you realize you’re too ill to work, notify your employer. Each company has its own policy on how and when to do this, so it’s important to follow the specific guidelines provided by your workplace.
  2. Fill Out the Self-Certification Form: Complete the form accurately, detailing the dates of your absence and a brief description of your illness.
  3. Submit the Form to Your Employer: Return the completed form to your employer according to their submission guidelines, typically within seven days of your illness.
Employment: self cert sick line ni

When to Obtain a Fit Note

If your illness extends beyond seven days, you will need to visit your GP or healthcare provider to obtain a Fit Note. This document is essential for claiming SSP beyond the self-certification period and provides your employer with guidance on any adjustments that might help you return to work.

Navigating Longer-Term Sickness

For illnesses lasting longer than seven days, the process involves more than just self-certification. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Obtaining a Fit Note: Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition and receive a Fit Note if deemed necessary.
  • Communicating with Your Employer: Keep your employer updated on your status and provide them with the Fit Note to ensure your sick pay entitlement continues without interruption.

How Contend Can Help

At Contend, we understand that dealing with sickness and navigating the related legalities can be overwhelming. Our AI legal assistant is designed to provide you with personalized legal guidance, helping you understand your rights and obligations when it comes to sick leave and pay. Whether you’re an employee seeking advice on self-certification and sick pay or an employer looking to manage sickness absence effectively, Contend is here to support you every step of the way.


Sickness can strike at any time, and being prepared is key to managing its impact on your work and wellbeing. By understanding the process of self-certification and your entitlement to sick pay in Northern Ireland, you can ensure that you’re taking the right steps to support your recovery while safeguarding your financial stability. Remember, Contend is always here to help, offering expert guidance tailored to your unique situation.

Take the first step towards managing sickness absence with confidence by chatting with Contend’s AI legal expert today. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the legal assistance you need to navigate the complexities of sick leave and pay, ensuring you’re informed and supported every step of the way.

You can click here to chat with one of Contend’s legal experts today.

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