Sick pay

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I’ve just started my sick leave after a full hysterectomy and I have been told by my employer that I won’t be getting sick pay as I only work 10 hours a week. I do claim universal credit due to only working part time and looking after my husband. How am I ment to pay all my bills while I’m off work recovering and what happens if I have to take longer off if I have to have chemo or other treatments. 

  • Hi

    Thank you for contacting us here at Macmillan.  My name is Rachel and I am a Work Support Advisor on Macmillan’s National Support Line.  My team provides guidance on your rights at work when you are affected by cancer and I would like to provide you with some information which I hope will help with your query and help you plan your next steps.

    Worrying about money is extremely tough, particularly at a time when your health is preventing you from working. I can see from your message that your employer has told you that you are not entitled to sick pay whilst you are off, because of the number of hours you work.

    In the first instance, it would be worthwhile double-checking with your employer to understand whether they have a sick pay policy and if they do, what the details of the policy are.  Some employers pay contractual sick pay which is over and above any statutory sick pay schemes.  It sounds in your instance, like your employer may not have such a policy but it is worth checking.

    When an employer does not have a specific sick pay policy and an employee is too ill to work, then sick pay entitlement will be the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) scheme.  To qualify for this, the employee will need to earn on average £123 per week and have been on sick leave for four days in a row.  There is some useful information on the scheme and eligibility for it on the Gov UK website.   If you do not earn this average amount or more in a week, this may be the reason why your employer has told you that you will not be entitled to sick pay.

    If this is the case, it will be important for you to explore what financial support may be available to you and your husband whilst you are not able to work. I would encourage you to contact our team of Welfare Rights Advisors here at Macmillan.   They can talk to you about your circumstances and explore any financial support or help towards costs that might be available to you. The team is not currently represented on the Ask an Expert forum but can be contacted on 0808 808 0000, options 1, 2 and 2.  They can also be contacted via LiveChat and by Email.  Their opening hours are 8am until 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday  It’s handy for them if you have ready when you make contact, details of your household income, main outgoings (such as council tax or rent/mortgage) and details of any savings and investments.

    We also have a Financial Guidance Team on our Support Line who typically support people affected by cancer who have mortgages, private pensions and insurances.  They can also help with estate planning.  It would be worthwhile thinking about whether a chat with this team might help you, particularly if you have a mortgage and making the payments worries you.  The team is represented on the Ask an Expert forum and can also be contacted on 0808 808 0000, options 1, 2 and 1.  They can also be contacted via LiveChat and by Email.  Their opening hours are 8am until 6pm Monday to Friday.  Both teams will be glad to support you. 

    I thought it might be useful at this stage of my response to make you aware that as long as your employer is aware of your cancer diagnosis, you are protected by a law called the Equality Act 2010 if you live in England, Scotland or Wales (Disability Discrimination Act 1995 in Northern Ireland) . The law says that due to your cancer diagnosis you are protected from any discrimination relating to it and also that your employer is duty-bound to make reasonable adjustments to help you either remain at or return to work if you have had a period of absence.  Our publication “Your Rights At Work” explains more about the Acts and how you are protected in the workplace following your diagnosis. 

    Reasonable adjustments remove or minimise disadvantages experienced by disabled people. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that disabled people are not disadvantaged in the workplace. They should also make sure policies and practices do not put disabled people at a disadvantage.  

    You can request a reasonable adjustment in the workplace, providing you can relate it back to your cancer. Your employer has a duty to consider all reasonable adjustments and a failure to do so could suggest disability discrimination. If your employer rejects a reasonable adjustment request, they need to be able to demonstrate why it is “unreasonable” for them to accommodate or it could suggest that you are being treated less favourably as a disabled person. If you feel this applies, it would be advisable to seek further advice. 

    It sounds from your enquiry, that you are not yet fully aware of any future treatment you may receive but once you are ready to think about returning to work, it would be useful to consider if there are any reasonable adjustments which might support you.  It might help you to make a request in writing for any reasonable adjustments to help you cope with your job.  If you have a union rep you could discuss this with them.  You could also make your request using the reasonable adjustment template letter available on the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS). You can include suggestions about the adjustments you need. It may help to support your request with medical evidence from your doctor, such as a Fit Note that lists the adjustments you need. Since you have an existing relationship with Occupational Health, you could discuss these with them when formalising your return to work plan. 

    I hope this has helped but please do contact us again if there is anything else we can help you with. You can either reply to this message, email us, or contact us on the Macmillan Support Line directly. We are available on webchat or via phone from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. To call us, our number is 0808 808 0000 option 1, then 2, then 3.

    Best Regards

    Rachel, Work Support Advisor 

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.