Article by Sam Griffin - 19th March 2020

Statutory Sick Pay: What You Can Get

Recent health concerns in the UK are starting to worry workers – and that’s putting it mildly. Pandemics and tumbling stock prices are rarely good for business and, where businesses struggle, often so to do the personal finances of workers. But what happens if you fall ill in the middle of all this?

Many are understandably worrying about how they’ll pay their rent or mortgage if they’re unable to work – either through illness or forced closure. Pressure breeds stress, which in turn can make you even more susceptible to illness. It’s a nasty cycle that could very easily spiral out of control.

Thankfully, some of the concern can be put to bed. The UK has a fairly robust sick pay system that entitles employees to funds when unable to work due to illness. A bit of clarity goes a long way in gaining some peace of mind, so it’s best to check whether you’re eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, how much you can get, and how to get it.

What is Statutory Sick Pay?

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a legal right in the UK for any employees who meet the eligibility criteria. SSP ensures that employers provide workers with a baseline level of sick pay, which is currently up to £94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks.

SSP is paid by employers (rather than the government) to employees, directly to their bank accounts just like wages.

Some employers offer Occupational Sick Pay (OSP), which is sickness benefit decided by the company’s own policy. Your employer’s Occupational Sick Pay might offer benefits that exceed the minimum SSP but cannot be anything less. OSP is essentially a little bit extra offered by your employer, in addition to your Statutory Sick Pay.

The Statutory Sick Pay safety net is especially welcome during times of financial hardship, where pressing bills – such as a mortgage or rent – can be an additional source of worry to someone already suffering from an illness.

Who is eligible for Statutory Sick Pay?

To benefit from Statutory Sick Pay, you’ll need to meet the following:

  • Have a formal employment contract with your employer. This document outlines the terms of your employment, including your duties, responsibilities, and pay. If you don’t have a copy, you can request one from your line manager
  • Have been unable to work at least four days in a row due to illness – including non-working days
  • Earn at least £118 per week from your job
  • Have notified your employer of your illness within their time limit (or seven days if they don’t have one). If you fail to tell your employer that you’re sick, they won’t have to start paying SSP until you do
  • After seven days, you only become eligible for further Statutory Sick Pay by giving your employer proof of illness (such as a doctor’s note)
  • Must work within the EU
  • Haven’t yet received your maximum 28 weeks’ worth of SSP

If you can tick these boxes, you’ll be eligible for SSP. This means your employer is obliged to provide SSP if you’re unable to work due to illness.

Even workers on zero-hour contracts can benefit from Statutory Sick Pay, as long as they meet the criteria set out above.

Your employer’s Occupational Sick Pay may have different (maybe even more lenient) criteria before they start helping you, but you’ll need to check with them directly. Their individual business policies will be unique to them as a company and may vary.

Can self-employed workers get Statutory Sick Pay?

Help for the self-employed is especially important during an illness, as they’re entirely dependent on their own labour to support themselves. Unfortunately, self-employed workers are not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, as it is a benefit an employer provides to their employees.

Instead, self-employed workers often take out some form of sickness insurance to cover a portion of lost income if they’re unable to work. A form of income insurance can help the self-employed, but it’s worth noting that sickness insurance usually pays out less than Statutory Sick Pay, so it’s not an exact comparison, but it is a small safety measure.

To sum up:

  • If you’re employed and eligible for SSP, you can get up to £94.25 each week for 28 weeks – a major source of financial help when you’re unable to work
  • Your employer can ask for a doctor’s note as proof of illness before paying sick pay after the initial seven days
  • Self-employed workers cannot benefit from Statutory Sick Pay, but might take out sickness insurance instead

What else can I do?

If you’re taken ill while qualifying for Statutory Sick Pay, the benefits can hopefully provide some relief.

You can also get a thorough understanding of your finances by keeping an eye on your Credit Report, which details the status of your credit accounts, balances, and outgoings. You’ll be able to see how much you owe on your reported accounts, to which creditors, and keep track of your money even easier.

The health of your Credit Report can influence how expensive your credit cards, loans, and even your mortgage might be, now and in the future. It’s also vital in deciding whether you’ll be accepted or declined credit in the first place.

You’ll have a different Credit Report at each of the four Credit Reference Agencies: Equifax, Experian, TransUnion, and Crediva. Because each one holds a different set of information, you’ll need to check them all to ensure you leave no stone unturned.

checkmyfile helps make this process hassle-free by collating your complete information from all Credit Reference Agencies into the UK’s most detailed Credit Report. You can check your Multi Agency Credit Report free for 30 days. It’s then just £14.99 per month and you can easily cancel at any time online, or by freephone or email.

The peace of mind offered by monitoring your Credit Report and Statutory Sick Pay should help put excessive worry to rest.

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