Sick pay for zero hours contracts

Should you give Statutory Sick Pay to zero hours contract workers?

You might be under the impression that zero hours workers don't have any workplace rights. But that's not true.

As workers, they're entitled to annual leave and the National Minimum Wage. Depending on how they're treated, they could even be an employee entitled to employee rights.

What's less straightforward is whether or not zero hours contract staff get sick pay.

Sick pay criteria for zero hours contract workers

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is available to zero hours contract workers as long as:

  • They've done some work for you.
  • They're ill for four days or more in a row (including days off).
  • They follow your rules about reporting sickness—or tell you within seven days.
  • They earned on average at least £123 per week (before tax) in the past 8 weeks.

The minimum weekly income has to come from one employer. If a worker relies on multiple jobs to reach this wage, they might not be eligible for SSP.

How much Statutory Sick Pay do zero hours contract workers get?

Zero hours workers can get £99.35 a week SSP for up to 28 weeks. However, this depends on a number of factoers.

You have a responsbility to pay your zero hours workers correctly, so seek advice on this issue to avoid getting it wrong.

You'll pay your staff in the same way you do their normal wages. For example, if you pay them weekly, you'll pay their SSP weekly.

When would a zero hours contract worker not get sick pay?

You don't have to pay zero hours workers SSP if:

  • They've received the maximum amount of SSP (over 28 weeks).
  • They're getting Statutory Maternity Pay.
  • They're self-employed.

Your staff might be self-employed if they get paid for every "gig" they do, have a right to substitute, a right to choose how to do work, and no obligation to perform work. For example, delivering food or driving people.

But that's not always the case. In 2016, Uber drivers won an employment case after arguing they're workers rather than self-employed.

What happens if I don't pay zero hours workers sick pay?

It's your responsibility to give zero hours contract workers sick pay and you shouldn't try to trick them out of their SSP allowance either.

For example, if a contract worker calls in sick, you shouldn't cancel their upcoming shifts to make it look like they were never due in work.

We advise that all leave and absences be recorded accurately using HR software.

If you owe your staff sick pay, but don't pay up, they could take you to an employment tribunal and you could be out of pocket.

And not by a few hundred pounds.

Research by our parent company, Peninsula, found that the average tribunal claim costs £11,546 to defend—win or lose. So, even though you might think you're saving money by not paying SSP, you could end up losing thousands... or even your business.

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