Whether you get self-employed sick pay depends on the structure of your business.
If you’re not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), there are other sickness benefits that you could be entitled to.
Does SSP Exist for the Self-Employed?
In most cases, self-employed parties are unable to claim many of the benefits available to employees, including statutory sick pay (SSP).
SSP is a payment to employees when they’re unable to work due to sickness for an extended period of time.
Self-employed eligibility for SSP depends on the legal structure of a business.
If you’re a limited company director you’re an employee of your limited company. This would make you entitled to SPP at the same rates as your employees.
If you’re a sole trader or in a partnership you can’t claim SSP, but there are other self-employed sickness benefits that you might be able to claim for.
Claiming SSP as a Limited Company Director
Limited company directors are employees, so they can claim SSP through their business.
The usual SSP rate applies. In 2020-21 the SSP rate is £95.85 a week for up to 28 weeks.
If you’re off work sick as a limited company director, you need to follow the SSP rules. These rules mean you have to have been off work for four or more days in a row, including non-working days. Days when you’re meant to be working but are off sick are known as ‘qualifying days’.
The first three days are known as ‘waiting days’. You’re entitled to SSP from the fourth day you’re unable to work.
You need to earn an average salary of at least £118 a week to qualify for SSP.
Sickness Benefit for Self-Employed Sole Traders and Partners?
While sole traders and partners can’t claim SSP, there are still a number of benefits the self-employed might be entitled to.
The one that could cover you if you were unwell would be the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). You might be entitled to weekly ESA payments if you have a long-term illness or disability meaning you’re unable to work.
You also need to be:
- 16 or over
- under the State Pension age
- live in England, Wales or Scotland
- not claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA)
- paying enough National Insurance contributions
While there are different types of ESA that people can claim for, most will claim ‘new style’ ESA. For this, you need to have been self-employed for the last two to three years. You also need to have two tax years of National Insurance contributions.
You can apply for ‘new style’ ESA online at gov.uk or over the phone. You need your:
- proof that you have limited capability for work (fit note)
- National Insurance number
- bank or building society account number and sort code
- GP’s details
- income details if you’re working
Citizens Advice says that if your claim is accepted you should expect your first payments a few weeks later. These will usually be backdated by up to three months, to cover time when you weren’t able to work.
When you first claim for ‘new style’ ESA or contribution-based ESA, you’ll usually get:
- £74.35 each week (aged 25 or over)
- £58.90 each week (aged under 25)
After three months, the DWP will assess you. Depending on your illness, you’ll be on one of the following rates:
- up to £73.10 a week (if you’re able to go back to work)
- up to £111.65 a week (if you’re not able to go back to work)
SSP and Coronavirus
The government has made changes to SSP for employees to reflect the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The changes mean that employees who are ill or are self-isolating from COVID-19 are entitled to SSP from the first day of being off work, rather than day four.
If you’re not eligible for SSP but you’re ill because of coronavirus, or the virus has affected your ability to work in other ways, you might be eligible for different government support – such as the Self‐Employment Income Support Scheme. Click here to check your eligibility.
There you have it, our full guide to claiming sick pay if you're self-employed.
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