Sick pay entitlement for part-time workers

Managing sickness absence for part-time employees can be a tough balance to strike. While on the one hand you want – and need – to be sympathetic, on the other hand, regular sickness can soon start to have a negative impact on your business, even if they’re a part-time employee.

Sick lady

What does ‘part-time worker’ mean?

Part-time employment means an individual is required to work fewer hours compared to a full-time one. Part-time employees may work in rotational shifts and they usually work fewer than 30 hours per week. Although part-time employees work fewer hours, they still have employee rights and are entitled to pension opportunities, training, maternity pay, holidays, etc.

Working out Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for part-time workers

To be eligible for SSP, the average threshold is calculated over an eight-week period before the employee fell ill.

Current legislation states that an employee is entitled to a minimum of £95.85 SSP per week and it’s illegal to not offer SSP to employees because they’re part-time workers, providing they meet the qualifying criteria.

If you make deductions to an employee’s salary because they haven’t received SSP, you could be taken to an employment tribunal.  To calculate sick pay entitlement for part-time workers, you should look at the ‘qualifying days’ which are the days your employee has taken off sick and should have been in work (not including the first three days).

Are part-time workers entitled to Occupational Sick Pay?

Occupational Sick Pay, sometimes referred to as ‘company sick pay’, is when the employer chooses to pay the employee for sickness absence.

If your contract with part-time workers includes the offering of Occupational Sick Pay (OSP), you must honour it, so you must carefully consider this when writing up your policy on sickness absence.

It’s important to note that the OSP payment must be equal to or more than what the employee would receive on SSP. You can choose to only offer OSP to employees with a minimum service period (e.g., after 3 years’ service) and how long you plan to offer OSP for, e.g., you could offer employees full pay for absences up to a month, and payment could be reduced as time goes on. When adding this to your employment contracts, you will need to consider the following:

  • Does an employee need to provide a sick note from a doctor to qualify for OSP?
  • If an employee is on annual leave when they fall ill – does OSP kick in at that point?
  • What happens when an employee reaches the maximum time you are offering OSP for? Can they be put on SSP afterwards, or would they need to be put on Employment & Support Allowance?
  • Are there any occasions when you will not offer OSP? If the employee injured themselves conducting work for another business for example.

Need Advice?

If your business needs support with absence and sickness policies for part-time employees, then Citation can help. We offer all our clients access to our 24/7 advice line which gives you access to employment law experts and solicitors.

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