Statutory Sick Pay- How does it work for Agency Workers and your internal staff?

One factor that no Recruitment Agency can anticipate is staff sickness. Certainly, there are ways that sickness absences can be minimised; for example policies to reduce stress, but very few are able to avoid periods of staff sickness entirely. As such, all businesses employing people should be prepared for what to do in the event of a sickness absence.

In the UK, employees who are off work sick are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which currently stands at £88.45 per week. This will be paid up to a maximum of 28 weeks (excluding the first three days which are “waiting days”) and must be paid to all eligible employees.  Some businesses also offer company sick pay in addition to SSP which can be included as an additional staff benefit for example once a probation period is passed.

Who is eligible for SSP?

In order to qualify for SSP, the following criteria must be met:

  • Work for the employer has started
  • Their sickness lasts for 4 full days or more in a row
  • Their earnings average more than £113 per week (for Agency workers whose pay is variable, the average is calculated upon the previous eight weeks)

In addition to permanent employees, agency workers, casual workers, those who are part-time and on fixed term contracts are all eligible for SSP.

However, workers who are self-employed are the exception to the rule as they are not entitled to SSP. Any workers who are self-employed should make provisions themselves in the event of a sickness absence.

What about company sick pay?

Many companies also have a company sick pay scheme in place whereby employees will receive money in addition to SSP (sometimes up to their usual full pay) for a certain number of weeks or months. The NHS for example operates a very generous 6 months full pay when employees are off sick.

According to the Agency Worker Regulations (AWRs), Agency workers are entitled to equal treatment on the same basis as if he or she had been hired directly by an employer. Whilst this covers annual leave, pay, night work, rest periods, working hours, and rest breaks; this does not include any company sick pay schemes. Thus, whilst a company sick pay scheme is a great added benefit for your staff, agency workers may not be entitled to the same.

Where can we go to ask questions about sick pay?

If you are ever not sure about making an SSP payment to a worker you should seek advice immediately as failure to pay SSP when it is owed can result in a penalty. You can speak with someone at TBOS on 0845 881 1112 for further information.