In the UK, part-time workers are protected from being unfavourably treated in comparison to full-time workers.
Importantly, and no doubt the reason you are reading, part-time workers are eligible for sick pay.
We'll explain how it works and look at how much SSP part time workers get.
Because of COVID, SSP rules are changing faster than ever.
We try to keep this article up-to-date but you might want to check the latest SSP rates on the Gov.uk website, or at least bookmark this article and check back from time to time.
Latest update: 1st March 2021.
What counts as a part-time worker?
There’s no official definition of a part-time worker, but we're generally talking about someone working less than 35 hours per week. Any more than that would count as full-time.
Overtime doesn't affect the definition either, if they’re contracted for less than full-time hours, they’re a part-time worker.
If they're not contracted for any hours, they're categorised as a zero hours contract worker. We've included guidance for zero hours workers at the bottom of this article.
Sick pay for part-time workers
The most important thing to note is there is no difference in Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for full time and part time workers. SSP is the minimum amount you must pay anyone who qualifies.
There is no pro-rata of sick pay, no rounding down or other such way of reducing it along with contractual hours.
As long as they hit the qualifying criteria, regardless of being full or part-time, they get the full amount - which isn't huge anyway.
What are the sick pay criteria?
To qualify for sick pay they must meet 3 criteria:
- They must be an employee and have done some paid work.
- They have earned an average of at least £120 per week.
- They have been ill, self-isolating or shielding for 4 or more days in a row.
The amount of SSP they are entitled to is £95.85 per week, and they’ll get this for up to 28 weeks (we'll talk later about keeping track of this).
You should also check their employment contract and your company policies. You might have a scheme which pays more than SSP in some situations, this is called Occupational Sick Pay (OSP).
There are a some exemptions on eligibility, things like maternity pay and ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) can get in the way. Head over to the Citizens Advice Bureau to see the full list of exemptions.
What other benefits do part-time workers get?
Part-time workers should be treated the same as full-timers for all your other perks, things like:
- sick pay, maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, and the pay for that leave
- opportunities for promotions, transfers, career breaks and redundancy
You'd normally apply these proportionally, according to on how many hours they work each week.
So if someone works 4 days a week and everyone else works 5, the norm would be for them to get 80% of whatever everyone else gets.
Sick pay entitlements for zero hours contract workers
A zero hours contract is one where you don't guarantee any amount of work for someone.
They might not have any contracted hours but they do still have statutory employment rights.
This means that if they work enough to reach the £120 threshold, they're entitled to the same Statutory Sick Pay (£95.85 per week).
They have to meet the earnings threshold with the same employer. They can't for example, reach the threshold by combining hours from two different jobs.
Keeping track of sick leave
With their being limits on SSP it's sensible to keep track of sick leave.
The maximum anyone can be paid SSP is 28 weeks.
This can accumulate in one block or, if someone is off regularly it can build in blocks of linked absences that:
- last 4 or more days
- less than 8 weeks apart
Note: If you're currently tracking sick leave using spreadsheets, you might well be making things difficult for yourself. Take a look at Timetastic. You can try Timetastic free for 30 days here.
Use a specific leave type - 'sick leave'
In Timetastic the simpliest way to keep track of sick leave is using Leave Types to record each different type of absence. Of course it's not always practical for the person who's off sick to fire up Timetastic and make the booking, so their boss can also make the booking.
They make the booking using the 'sick leave' category.
If you want to see this in action here's a direct link to create a free 30 day trial of Timetastic. There's no commitment, and it'll only take a few minutes.
View a tally of their sick days
Having recorded all sick leave in Timetastic you'll now have a running total for each employee on their calendar view.
We're looking at the summary on the right hand side. You can see our employee has taken five and a half days sick leave so far this year.
See the days highlighted on the calendar
You can also see how often by looking at the colour coding on their calendar. Here you can see Mary has had a couple of days off each month.
The download option
Finally, if you want a deep-dive into the stats, you can download everything into excel - and filter, sort, and pivot to your heart's content.
Head to SETTINGS > REPORTING for the excel download options.
It's been a strange year, for obvious reasons we've seen a lot more sick leave than we'd like, and it's certainly worth keeping tabs on it so you can arrange any SSP accurately.
And hopefully you've seen the rules are the same for both full time and part time workers.