Having to take a day off work due to sickness is the worst. Being stuck at home with nothing to do other than watch daytime TV while you recover is nightmare fuel for most of us. But at least you’ll still get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)! That is, unless you’re self-employed.
Unfortunately for those of you who run your own business, you won’t be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay. SSP exists to help those of us who can’t make it to work due to illnesses out of our control – this prevents you from being punished simply for being unwell. SSP can help you earn money even if you’re not able to provide your employer with the skills they hired you for! SSP helps employees avoid financial difficulties for something out of their control.
It might not seem fair, but SSP doesn’t cover the self-employed and there are few ways to ensure you get paid if you’re sick and run your own business. Think of it this way: if you’ve been hired to plaster a wall and you can’t complete the job as you’re unwell, the customer won’t just pay you regardless.
SSP exists to protect those under contracted employment for a business – but where’s the protection for the self-employed? Whilst there may not be a clear-cut way to get paid when you’re sick, there are plenty of preventative measures you can put in place to help protect yourself in the event you’re unable to work.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can ensure you still get paid even if you’re unwell!
The Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit
In order to protect your financial stability from sick days, you need to have access to some stimulus fund. One form this could come in, is the Employment Support Allowance (ESA). The ESA tends to be for more significant forms of illness – for instance, if you have a disability or healthy condition, as these may affect how much you’re able to work. The ESA, however, if somewhat financially limiting – payments start at £73 per week and cap at around £112. The ESA is not an ideal solution, but can help bridge the gap.
In order to be eligible for ESA, you must have been self-employed and made sufficient contributions to National Insurance for the previous two to three years. Opting for ESA should only really be considered by those who have long-term illnesses and evidence from your medical practitioner. It can be a difficult process and you can’t apply if you have another form of employment that provides you with sick pay. Unless you must, you should consider another option.
One of the more common options may be Universal Credit. This is a payment designed to help you with living costs. Unlike ESA, you don’t have to have a long-term illness to claim Universal Credit. Universal Credit is to designed to aid anyone on low-income or out of work. So, if you miss bringing in business due to illness and, as a consequence of the missed business opportunities, fall below the income threshold, you could be eligible for a Universal Credit payment that helps bridge the gap.
Self-Employed Sick Pay Insurance
Another popular way to ensure you still get paid on sick days is to obtain self-employed sick pay insurance. This is also known as Income Protection Insurance and can be an extremely valuable method of securing your salary in the event of illness.
Like any other insurance, you’d make monthly contributions to a scheme which, in the event of your illness, would pay out in order to protect you from financial difficulty. In the event of a long-term or sudden illness, these schemes can help prevent serious repercussions and ensure you still get paid. Compared to ESA and Universal Credit, Income Protection Insurance will cost you money, but it might be worth it to prevent any unexpected pitfalls.
Invest In a Sick Day Fund
According to CIPD’s 2020 survey, the average rate of employee absence is 5.8 per year. That means the average person in the UK takes 6 days off per calendar year due to illness – that’s 6 days of lost income for the self-employed! Those six days equate to 1/40th of your entire yearly earnings – so if you were earning the average wage for the self-employed, £36,678 according to totaljobs.com, you’d miss out on just under £920! For a lot of people, that’s not an amount you can afford to miss out on.
One method to nullify this amount could be to save £920 of your salary from other expenditures under the assumption that you may lose this amount due to illness over the year. Alternatively, you could increase your hourly wage to cover this potential loss. If you worked the average number of days in 2021 (255) and the average number of hours (8 per day), you’d be earning £17.98 per hour. If you were to add £0.45 onto that hourly wage, you’d bridge that £920 sickness gap and ensure you’re getting paid for your sick days!
The Bottom Line
Missing out on almost £1000 a year through sickness could be really damaging to your lifestyle and may even cause financial instability. By claiming ESA or Universal Credit, and contributing to an Income Protection Scheme or increasing your hourly wage, you can help protect yourself against any lost earnings due to sickness.
If you still have concerns about your financial instability or self-employed sick pay, chat to one of our financial experts today to see how they could help you save money!