Few employees aware of statutory sick pay entitlement

Only 4% of employees know how much statutory sick pay they are entitled to, according to a health insurer, leaving many people at risk of struggling financially if they had a long-term condition.

A survey by Direct Line Life Insurance found that many workers mistakenly believed they would receive their full salary if they fell ill.

Despite almost half (43%) of companies reducing wages to statutory sick pay after a person has been off sick for two weeks, 8% of employees claimed that they had never heard of statutory sick pay. Employees are eligible to receive it at a rate of £89.35 per week for up to 28 weeks.

The survey of 112 HR professionals also discovered that 21% of firms that pay bonuses will withhold these if an employee has been on long-term sick leave. A third will pay bonuses on a pro-rata basis if an employee is unwell.

Trevor Bush, head of Direct Line Life Insurance, said: "This research highlights a worrying disconnect between people's 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 struggling financially if they are unable to work for a long period of time."

Around 92% of HR professionals said they would require some form of formal documentation from a GP to authorise sick leave, whilst 36% required more paperwork if the absence was for a more unusual reason.

Last week the European Committee of Social Rights found that statutory sick pay arrangements in the UK are in breach of its legal obligations under the European Social Charter. It said that, in many cases, sick people were receiving less than 40% of the UK's median income - a situation it described as "manifestly inadequate".