Sick Pay entitlement for part-time workers

Updated: May 17


Part-time workers enjoy the same benefits of statuary sick pay (SSP) as do full-time workers. Therefore, managing employee absence for part-time staff is essentially no different from standard absence management for full-time staff, but there are some provisos. For instance, you need to understand the difference between part-time workers, workers on zero-hours contracts, and agricultural workers.


Government regulations on SSP


To qualify for SSP, employees must satisfy various criteria, namely:

· They must be employed under an employment contract

· Earn a minimum of £123 a week on average

· Have been absent due to illness for at least four consecutive normal working days

These rules apply to both full-time and part-time workers. They all enjoy the same SSP benefits of a minimum of £95.35 a week, which is paid for up to 28 weeks. Payment is not adjusted pro-rata for the number of hours employees’ work. Everybody on a contract receives the same statutory amount, subject to tax and national insurance.


SSP for workers and zero-hours contracts


With a zero-hours contract, the employer is not obliged to provide the employee with any minimum number of working hours. According to the UK Office for National Statistics, approximately 900,000 workers are on such contracts.

However, zero-hour contract workers are entitled to SSP as long as they have carried out some paid work for the employer and have earned on average £123 a week over the previous eight weeks. If they fulfil these criteria, they are entitled to the same benefits as any other contracted worker, £95.35 a week for 28 weeks.

According to the TUC, around a third of zero-hours contract workers don’t qualify for SSP because they don’t earn the minimum required average wage of £123 a week.


SSP (ASP) for agricultural workers


Agricultural workers receive significantly different sick pay than non-agricultural workers. Rather than receiving SSP, they receive ASP, which is equivalent to the minimum agricultural pay rate for their contracted hours for the days they are off sick after the first three days. This applies equally to full and part-time workers. ASP includes their SSP entitlement. However, to qualify for ASP, workers must have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months. The number of weeks over which workers can claim ASP depends on the number of years the individual has worked. It is based on a sliding scale of 13 weeks for one to two years of employment up to 26 weeks for five years and more.


A brief history of sick pay


Although £95.35 a week of sick pay is unlikely to pay all your bills, workers were lucky to receive sick pay at all in the past. The government introduced SSP in April 1983 as part of the Social Security Act. SSP replaced contributory sickness benefit funded by National Insurance. Initially, SSP was paid for the first eight weeks of sickness only.

Although the Social Security Act meant that employers rather than the government must pay SSP, employers could reclaim the money from the government. However, that changed in 1991 with the Statutory Sick Pay Act, reducing the amount employers could recover, though small employers could claim it all.

In April 2014, the government changed the rules – from that date, the Percentage Threshold Scheme (PTS), which stated the amount of SSP employers could recover, was abolished. As a result, employers with more than 250 employees can no longer reclaim SSP.


Keeping track of sick leave with Leave-Wizard


While you can record and track sick pay using a spreadsheet, this method is too time-consuming and subject to human error for most employers. A far better solution is to use a staff holiday planner such as Leave-Wizard, which incorporates an advanced management system.


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