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.
Who counts as an employee?
YOU can only get Statutory Sick Pay if you’re “employed”. Here’s how to tell if you meet the criteria.
If you work for a business you are probably employed.
The government says you are likely to count as in employment if several of the following critera apply.
- You’re required to work regularly unless you’re on leave, for example holiday, sick leave or maternity leave
- You’re required to do a minimum number of hours and expect to be paid for time worked
- A manager or supervisor is responsible for your workload, saying when a piece of work should be finished and how it should be done
- You can’t send someone else to cover your work
- You have tax and National Insurance contributions deducted from your wages.
- You get paid holiday
- You can join the business’ pension scheme
- Your employer’s disciplinary and grievance procedures apply to you
- You work at the business’ premises or at an address specified by the business
their contract sets out redundancy procedures
the business provides the materials, tools and equipment for their work
they only work for the business or if they do have another job, it’s completely different from their work for the business
their contract, statement of terms and conditions or offer letter (which can be described as an ‘employment contract’) uses terms like ‘employer’ and ‘employee’
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.