Over 2.5 million UK workers are unaware of their employer’s policy on statutory sick pay and would face a significant salary shortfall if they were unwell and unable to work, claims new research from Direct Line. Just 4 percent of employees know how much they would be paid in statutory sick pay if they fell ill and many mistakenly believe that on average they would receive full salary for three and a half months if they were unable to work due to illness. In fact, 43 percent of firms reduce an employee’s wages to statutory sick pay after two weeks of an employee being off sick and one in six firms reduce wages to statutory sick pay after just four days. It is not only salaries people lose out on if they are off sick; one in five (21 percent) firms that pay bonuses withhold these if an employee has been off work on long term sick leave. More than a third of firms (33 percent) will pay bonuses based on pro-rata analysis of days worked and 14 per cent will pay a discretionary reduced rate.
Employees are entitled to statutory sick pay if they are too ill to work and have been off work more than four days in a row. They are eligible to receive it for up to 28 weeks, at a rate of £89.35 a week, less than a fifth of the average UK weekly wage of £5102. However, just one in twenty-five (4 percent) know how much they would receive in statutory sick pay, and eight per cent have never even heard of statutory sick pay.
According to the data almost a third (30 per cent) of HR professionals said the qualifying period for their company sick pay schemes is between 1 and 2 years. Additionally, 92 per cent of HR professionals say their company would require formal documentation to authorise any period of sickness, and 36 per cent said they would require additional paperwork if the absence is for more unusual reasons.
Trevor Bush, Head of Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “This research highlights a worrying disconnect between peoples’ expectations and what they would actually be entitled to if they were to unexpectedly fall ill. “Statutory sick pay is significantly lower than the national average salary and people are only eligible for 28 weeks, so those with long term conditions could find themselves in struggling financially if they are unable to work for a long period of time.”