EMPLOYEES who are off sick for four days or more can still be paid even if they’re not working.
Sick pay is one of the rights employees are entitled to as part of their contracts, along with others such as maternity or paternity leave, rest breaks and time off.
But if you’re self-employed or a contract worker, the rules about what you’re entitled too are different.
Here’s your rights if you’re off sick, including if you’re self-employed or a contract worker.
What is Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?
If you’re too sick to work, you can get Statutory Sick Pay from your employer.
If you qualify, you’ll get £95.85 per week, for up to 28 weeks.
To get the payment, you need to be classed as an “employee” and have done some work for your employer.
Although agency workers are also entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.
While you’re off sick, you should get it as part of or instead of your normal salary each month.
If you’re unsure if your payments are correct, contact the HR and payroll departments at your workplace to discuss it with them.
Who qualifies for Statutory Sick Pay?
To be eligible, you’ll need to earn an average of at least £120 per week.
The minimum weekly income has to come from one employer. If you rely on multiple jobs to reach this wage, you might not be eligible for SSP.
You’ll need to inform your employer before the deadline in your contract – or within seven days if there is no deadline.
Usually you need to have been sick for at least four days in a row – including non-working days.
You won’t qualify if you’re already received the maximum amount of pay – which is 28 weeks.
You also won’t qualify if you’re getting Statutory Maternity Pay.
Unfortunately, self-employed people aren’t entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. However you could be eligible for a new scheme, which is called Employed and Support Allowance.
Rules for casual workers, agency workers and zero hours contracts
Casual and agency workers are treated as employees when it comes to paying tax and Class 1 National Insurance Contributions.
This means you are also entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.
You still need to meet qualification criteria for the benefit including the minimum income.
Zero hours workers can get £95.85 a week SSP for up to 28 weeks.
You’ll only get the pay for the days you’re scheduled to work.
The timescales for when you can receive it depend on whether you have had three months of continuous employment with your employer.
If you have, you’re entitled for the whole of your Period of Incapacity for Work (PIW) unless you have been given written notice that your contract is coming to an end.
If you haven’t had three weeks of continuous work, you’re entitled to SSP until the end of any assignments you have accepted.
What help is available for self-employed workers?
While self-employed workers can’t get sick pay, as they’re not on a company’s payroll, they can get some other support instead.
They could apply for Employment and Support Allowance instead, which gives you money to help with living costs if you’re unable to work and supports you with getting back into work if you’re able to.
You can apply for ESA if you’re employed, self-employed or unemployed.
You’ll normally get the ‘assessment rate’ for 13 weeks while your claim is being assessed. This will be:
- Up to £58.90 a week if you’re aged under 25
- Up to £74.35 a week if you’re aged 25 or over
After your assessment, you’ll be placed into one of two groups if you’re entitled to ESA. If you’re able to get back into work in the future, you’ll be put into the work-related activity group. Otherwise, you’ll be put into the support group.
You’ll then get:
- Up to £74.35 a week if you’re in the work-related activity group
- Up to £113.55 a week if you’re in the support group
You’ll then be paid every two weeks and the money will go straight into your bank account.
To apply for ESA, you need to apply directly with the government.
Previously, workers who were shielding during the coronavirus outbreak would get SSP. However, that ended back in August.
Meanwhile, Brits living in in Blackburn, Oldham and Pendal can now get up to £182 in a “quarantine payment”.
And we explain what the cold weather payment is, who is eligible and how it works here.