Zero Hours Contracts and Sick Pay MSE

zero hours and contract sick pay

“Do you get Sick Pay on Zero Hours Contracts” 😓…Bills to Pay?


no sick pay zero hours contract uk worker
Zero Hours Contract Sick Pay UK | Got Money Issues If Sick & Off Work?

What is a Zero Contract Hours Worker?

In today’s busy world of work in the UK, many people are now being taken on via zero contract hours work.

But what’s ‘Zero Contract Hours meaning’, and how does it 💯 100% affect your ability to claim any Sick Pay benefits (even if this maybe a limited amount).

Zero hours contract work as the name implies, is neither constant work and not for any full set of hours but ad hoc. For some people, this is an ideal flexible solution for work & income in 2024.

In other words, no specific 5 or 6 days per week working from say 9-5. So it sounds totally flexible…but is also based around what that employer then requires from you.

Likewise, you also have the option of deciding whether to take up any work offered via that employer, or another as well.

Dependant upon what you maybe looking for workwise nowadays, it’s a sort of fine balance between being fully employed, agency working and the flexibility of self employed but also without those full employee benefits eg; company pension, healthcare, sick leave, death in service etc;

In this review, we will therefore look over Statutory Sick Pay SSP and Zero Hours Contracts and any SSP entitlements.

Then the importance of helping better protect your income to pay a mortgage, or rent & those monthly bills – if unable to work and earn a living due to accident, sickness or hospitalisation.

Note: Although you may not be employed legally first hand via the people you currently work alongside, you do still have workers rights as an employee & usually with no exceptions. But are they enough for full sick pay to help cover those bills?

According to Government website on zero hours contracts & casual contract workers pay rights, they say you are entitled to get the National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage plus some paid holiday.

The government also state that you cannot do anything to stop any zero-hours worker from also getting paid work elsewhere.

Only SSP on Zero Hours Contract? Get Income Insurance


SSP and Zero Hours Contracts | Get Income Protection Insurance

How do Zero Contract Hours work?


Often many companies workloads vary throughout the year eg; More for Xmas, less for Summer Holidays etc; and therefore many employers require to have enough staff flexible & available, at different work load times.

Or for example a regular staff member of staff is on holiday, pregnant, calls in sick etc; an employer can potentially call upon another workers availability & skills.

So a ‘zero hours contract’ can literally mean you must available for employment at any point within a standard working week ie; on stand by, but with no obligation from the employer to also provide you any set work hours.

In essence zero hours contracts are a legal agreement frame set up between employer & employee whereby one may be asked to work… but crucially there is no minimum set contractual hours

Their legal contract will then state what income, salary or pay that individual will get paid if they do work as requested, and then also what will happen if they also turn down any work offered to them.

On that point, the specifics of zero-hours contracts may also differ between companies eg; in some zero-hours contracts the individual will have to accept work if they are offered it, but in other contracts they won’t.

Let’s examine how various issues of the job role may also effect taking out “Zero Hour Contract Worker Sick Pay” Income Protection or Critical illness Life Insurance.

Zero Hours Contract Workers’ Rights

Do Zero Hours Contracts get Sick Pay?

Firstly to qualify, periods for which Statutory Sick Pay SSP are due will be different depending on whether or not an employee has had 3 months’ continuous employment.

*3 Months Continuous Employment Rules

This 3-month continuous period the Government website states doesn’t have to be immediately before a period of sickness. Neither is not broken by periods of sickness, annual leave or if an employee was not offered work.

If an employee hasn’t had 3 months’ continuous employment, then eligibility for SSP continues until the end of any period the employee had agreed to work.

Zero Hours Contracts and Benefits?

For Zero Contract Hours Workers’ Rights, if you mean full sickness paid cover for your full salaried work hours, the answer is usually No to any comprehensive ‘zero hours contract sick pay’ (other than maybe SSP, which only amounts to around £100pw anyway).

Note: The full salary arrangements & full work sick pay benefits provided for zero hour contract workers will differ from those provided to people doing exactly the same job role, but with a legally binding contract offering then guaranteed work hours. The onus is therefore on you to provide your own sick-pay back up plans.

So, if also asking is an equivalent worker on zero hours contracts and benefits entitled to similar to their fully employed colleagues… Then the answer is usually NO.

Re Zero Hours Contracts sick pay entitlement, this means usually just government statutory sick pay SSP only & not any full salary employee benefits cover. If claimed on, then is usually not paid for the first 3 days anyway that you are on sick leave.

These are called ‘waiting days’ these rules on this were changed temporarily for some contract staff duration of the Pandemic.

Is Zero Hours Contract Statutory Sick Pay Enough?

Is 'sick pay zero hours contract' enough?

Contracts Zero Hours Workers Regulation

How to claim Statutory Sick Pay Zero Hours Contracts?

How to best claim ‘statutory sick pay for zero hours contract’ terms as a worker, probably your first point of contact will be speak to your employers personnel department for help. Then following their current rules for getting SSP & view the staff handbook rules.

If you work for an employer with a legal 0 hours contract uk terms, if you are off work through illness or accident, then they must usually offer SSP Statutory Sick pay if you:

  • Have already now started working with your employer
  • Been off sick for 4 full days or more now in a row (include any non-working days)
  • Earn minimum £123 a week on average, before UK tax

Zero Hours Contracts v Agency Worker Hours

Since 10/2011, temporary agency workers are entitled to equal treatment on working time with as a comparable direct hire employed by the hirer to do the same job.

As an agency worker (like zero hours contract workers) you have the legal right not to work more than 48 hours a week. This working rights can be changed should you choose to sign an agreement with the agency saying that you are willing to work longer hours. However, this time limit is averaged over a 17-week period for agency workers.

Regular nightworkers shouldn’t work more than 8 hours in each 24-hour period as good business practise. 

Statutory Sick Pay Zero Hours Contracts Workers?

Agency Worker Sick Pay Insurance Quotes 15 secs. Broker help.

If you’re an agency or casual worker, and you’re working on a temporary assignment when you get ill, you might only be entitled to Government SSP until that assignment, or an agreed future one ends.

Most Zero Hours Contract or Agency Workers cannot get by on any limited Government benefits…these figures will just not add up. Many people overestimate what SSP is worth

Even if you are student, their average outgoings are £1,000pm. So if your outgoings are the same (OR likely more) but you are only getting less than 1/2 of that from Government SSP, then it won’t take you long to either eat into your savings, or run up debts.

So, if you perhaps think can casual workers get sick pay on 0 hours contract, and then still pay all your normal monthly bills…in reality think again.

Sick Pay on 0 hours Contract UK?

zero hours working & sickpay illness insurance

If you are off with any longer term illness & then checking up on ‘sick pay zero hour contract’ terms you will find you probably need to make insurance arrangements for yourself, or rely on your savings and investments.

So for most sick pay agency workers uk benefits are limited here….so for some people it won’t happen to me attitude in life could cause you financial woes if off work sick longer term.

You may need to consider having your own sickness insurance back up plan instead, rather than rely on any basic SSP statutory sick pay entitlement.

Zero Hours Contract Statutory Sick Pay SSP?

Do zero hours contract get sick pay if off work through an accident, illness or hospitalisation? 💯 100% you may not have access to any employer sponsored sick pay arrangements, other than SSP.

Being a 0 Hours Contract Worker can be both a mentally challenging choice, as well as sometimes physical.

For example during the Pandemic, many zero hours staff probably worked in the care sector looking after patients with serious long term Covid.

However if they got Covid themselves (and were off work ill), then unfortunately unless they had made their own provisions then government SSP zero hours contract money was all they would get.

As such, for help keeping the country safe as key workers during that difficult time period goes a big thank you review

So, nobody wants to be negative and think about being off work sick or having an accident say injuring your feet or hands. Unfortunately, many casual workers themselves do suffer from some form of injury or illness during their working life and therefore insurers may risk their occupations accordingly. 

In conclusion here re zero hours contract and ssp rights, if you are off sick for any longer term, the financial buck will usually stop with you!

Can you get SSP on a Zero Hours Contract?

SSP and Sick pay 0 hours contracts
* source thesaurus plus

Zero Hours Contract Sick Pay Calculator

If you are the employer or employee here, then the Government website confirms that entitlement to statutory sick pay SSP if:

  • Pay Class 1 National Insurance contributions for that employee (or would do if not for their ages or their overall level of earnings)
  • Employee was sick for 4 or more days in a row (including non-working days)
  • Employee has told you they are off sick within your own time limit contract periods (or 7 days if you do not have one)
  • Earnings are more than £123 per week (on average, before tax) from one employer

Their website provides a useful Zero Hours Contract Sick Pay Calculator to help you work the figures out here

You can combine periods of sick leave if the gap between them is 8 weeks or less. These are called ‘linked Periods of Incapacity for Work (PIW)’.

If there’s more than one linked PIW, they advise you will need to work out the SSP manually.

Income Protection Insurance PHI | ‘Sick Pay for Zero Hours Contract’

Typical Key Features

  • Designed to pay out Tax Free Income to cover lost salary/wages on your ‘Zero Hours Sick Pay’
  • Usually has an initial waiting or deferred / waiting period from 1/4/8/13/26/52 weeks 
  • During Pandemic 2020’s, some Insurers had removed their shorter 1 week deferral periods
  • PHI benefits are currently paid out tax free on claim until you return to work or plan end date
  • Insurers Plans can usually run upto state pension ages or some upto age 70
  • Income Insurance Benefits may be level or inflation linked from outset or claim
  • Medical evidence is usually required for underwritten insurance before any terms offered
  • Cover may be based on maximum of say 65% of your gross annual earnings
  • Waiver of Premium so you do not have to pay the premiums in claim
  • Zero Hours Life Insurance Death benefits if included may just mean a lump sum sufficient for funeral costs or return of some premiums

Note: Some Insurers PHI policies will also need you to either proove your overall monthly income for “sick pay on 0 hours contract” (as you cannot be better off sick than well).

Or Insurers policies request that you were working more than a set numbers of hours to qualify ie; are zero hours contracts entitled to sick pay Income Protection Insurance PHI cover.

Others PHI plans do not request any financial underwriting to qualify, but may limit your overall cover levels to say £1,500pm maximum allowable (if you are concerned can you get insurance sick pay on zero hours contract).

2 Types of Income ‘Zero Contract Hours Sick Pay’ Insurance

Comprehensive Income Cover

  • Covers you until you either go back to work …or maybe never go back to work
  • Protects you on an ‘own occupation basis’ re sick pay and zero hours contract workers
  • Premiums may be fixed none-reviewable

Budget Income Cover

  • Budget cover may only payout per claim for upto say 12 | 24 | 60 months (ie; limited term)
  • Premiums may be annually age costed / 5 yearly reviewable
  • Invariably this type of plan is initially alot cheaper but will cost more in the future

‘Zero Hours Sick Pay’: Income Back Up Plan

Zero Hours Sick Pay Insurance

*Martin Lewis on ‘Sick Pay Zero Hours’ Contracts?

martin lewis sick pay zero hours contract workers income protection

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis says the Pandemic has made many of us realise that serious illness can hit at any time & when we least expect it.

MSE says there is some Government sick pay support available in their review, if you’re too unwell to work. MSE Martin Lewis explains these benefits are Statutory Sick Pay & Contractual Sick Pay.

Then support, if you are not entitled to any sick pay zero hours workers could possibly get, like claiming for Universal Credit & ESA.

Having to take time off work they agree can be stressful both emotionally & financially hit your back pocket.

In the MSE Sick Pay guide they look at therefore mainly on what Government Benefits you maybe entitled to, and how to claim it.

Elsewhere on their website they review the main types of sick pay insurance alternatives cover available, if you get a serious illness or injury and therefore can’t work.

The MoneySavingExpert review says that income protection generally includes a much greater range of illnesses than critical illness cover, but it can be more expensive.

Martin Lewis therefore comments on the value of worth looking at Income Protection Insurance to help out eg; Zero House Contract or Agency Workers

Martin Lewis concludes that it may cover all your essential monthly spending if you’re unable to work due to illness or disability for a set period (generally a year or two). 

Unsure here if he means that the income protection policy only covers you for a year or two (which some cheaper policies do but more expensive one pay full term)…or you are off sick from 0 hours contract work for a year or two.

MSE says YES Income Protection Insurance can be a Financial Lifeline SO the ultimate choice is always yours if the monthly cost’s worth it. Agency Workers sickpay is also a debated topic on the MSE Forums.

In terms of the large range of income sickness Insurance products available, Money Saving Expert are fully impartial with all their best buy reviews. As you maybe aware, neither Martin nor MSE never endorse products.

Note: Yes, they mention individual products & services on MSE site, but they make it very clear don’t ‘support’ them.

In general, Martin Lewis says you will often find the “Cheapest Quotes by going to a Broker” & NOT via Comparison Sites.

MSE Martin Lewis also suggests “NEVER BLINDLY BUY DIRECT” expensive insurance policy offers either via a Bank or One Insurer ie; Shop around or use a Broker.

‘Zero Hours Contract Jobs’ | Insurance Underwriting & Health Issues

You pay a monthly premium throughout the policy term of the “Income Sickness Insurance” cover. Cost for a 0 hours contract worker depends mainly on:

# Your Age – at the time you start the policy ie; older people are more likely to suffer an illness, so pay more
# Your Gender – being male or female no longer affects rates wef 2012 via income providers
# Your Health – at the time you start the policy. If your health is poor eg; raised BMI kg, blood pressure or cholesterol you may have to pay more, have exclusions or even be refused sickness cover
# Your Occupation – some zero hours contracts worker jobs are more likely than others to contribute towards illness
# Hobbies and lifestyle – for example, rock climbing is high risk, so you’ll pay more.
# Smoker Status – just quit smoking so you’ll still pay smoker rates as still more likely to make a claim
# Waiting period – once you claim, there is a delay before payments start.

You can choose how long this ‘wait period’ is eg; from 1 week (most expensive) or 4 weeks onwards. This maybe all dependant upon your exact 0 hours contract worker occupation. Also, you may have a savings net to fall back on anyway shorter term?

The longer this waiting period, eg; 8 or 13 weeks, the less you may pay for Zero Hours Workers Sick Pay Insurance.

zero hours workers and sick pay cover

What does Income Protection Cost?

Well, that’s the million pound question if considering ‘zero hours contracts pros and cons’ and income protection insurance.

For example: If you are aged 25 and earning around £25,000pa salary and then worked for the next 40 years until say retirement. You could now potentially earn over £1 million gross ie; £25,000pa x 40 years [or more with any future inflation wage rises].

As such, feel free to do you own agency worker sick pay income protection quote – to then value what your income is worth to your family lifestyle and bills if off longer term sick?

Martin Lewis comments on the value of having income protection insurance.

Covid Vaccines & Sick Pay for Zero Hours Workers

  • Insurers may ask in the last 3 months have you tested positive, been hospitalized or had recent contact with anyone with symptoms
  • If so you may have to await your full recovery and be fully OK before you can re-apply for insurance
  • Standard rates will apply after any self-isolation periods & assuming no other ongoing health complications
  • Any refusal to be vaccinated, will not affect consideration payment of an insurance claim re agency worker sick pay rights
  • Receiving a COVID-19 vaccination & getting side effects Insurers say currently will be treated as any other claims

Zero Hours Contracts and SSP

Agency Worker Sick Pay Insurance Cover

What happens when I return to Zero Hours work after a claim?

  • Policy monthly benefits stop after you go back to normal contract 0 hours work, as will any premium waiver
  • The insurance plan is still active & you will continue to pay your premiums
  • Some Insurers may then pay a reduced or proportional benefit if you cannot do exactly what job you were doing before as a 0 contract hours worker
  • This takes account of any earnings loss or reduction due to your illness or injury affecting family life
  • It could be you are in a different occupation also because of your incapacity. Or have to do reduced work hours or restricted your duties.
  • Note: there is usually no limit to the number of claims you can make during your zero hours contracts working life

Sick Pay Zero Hours Workers | Critical Illness instead? 

Critical illness cover pays out a tax-free sum if you are diagnosed with various life-threatening conditions eg; specified cancers, heart attack, stroke, ms etc; as listed in the Insurers policy.

For some, it is a different alternative to Income Insurance with Critical Illness Lump Sums or Family Income Benefits options.

But there are lots of common situations when it would not pay out & to help your ‘zero hours sick pay’ situation. For example, if you were unable to work due to back problems or maybe a stress-related illness.

Additionally, not all occurrences of the critical illness Martin Lewis says headline listed by Insurers are covered. For example; some lesser forms / early stages of non-invasive cancers maybe not covered by some plans.

Note: Lifecover and critical illness cover should not be confused with terminal illness. Terminal illness benefit is usually automatically included within a life insurance policy and means you will not survive, as you cannot sadly be cured.

Chances of making a claim Statutory Sick Pay | Zero Hours Workers
Income Protection = Claim 1 in 4 = During Working Lifetime*Stats increasing re Covid19

Zero Hour Workers Life Insurance

Employers will not offer you any Life Insurance either, unless maybe they have some accidental death cover caused by any adverse health & safety issues.

If fully employed, often many employers may offer their staff some death in service benefits, which pays out a multiple x of their annual salary.

However, being zero hours contract staff you are not entitled to any life cover either – alongside any lack of employee sickpay.

Unsure how much Life Insurance cover you may need?

As a pointer, Martin Lewis on life insurance suggests after repayment of any mortgage loans or any debts using their money saving expert guidance of ‘THE 10 x RULE’

ie; He says aim to cover 10 x the Annual income of the highest earner or the main breadwinner until at least any kids have finished their full-time education. 

Can Zero Hours Contract Workers get a Mortgage?

Alongside sickpay cover, one question we often also get asked in 2024 as brokers is ‘Can Zero Hours Contract Workers get Mortgages’?

The question is asked because of the nature of your irregular income being sometimes intermittent between various temporary contracts.

As such, you may be required to contribute a bigger deposit down payment, than those maybe in full-time permanent employment.

Therefore, some mortgage lenders are willing to only offer upto maximum loans to value of 75/80%. Unsure, please contact us – Mortgage Broker support >

mortgage broker whole of market

‘Sick Pay Zero Hours’ Conclusion

If your budget allows this, as brokers we may suggest you ideally consider that you should have both income protection & critical illness plans for your ‘Sick Pay Zero Hours’ backup cover.

For more information on this, check up on your own employers regulations do zero hours get sick pay T&C’s. Once done then please talk to our professional brokers here about your ideal protection solutions.

Article on ‘Zero Hour Contracts Sick Pay’ by Martyn Spencer Financial Adviser (2024)

For reassurance re health for men & women we review many of the best brands selling Income Protection & Life Insurance in UK (inc NI)