Brits in the dark over sick pay

  • One in six firms reduce an employee’s wage to statutory sick pay after four days of sick leave
  • Just 4 per cent of Brits know how much they would be paid in statutory sick pay
  • 30 per cent of HR professionals say qualifying period for company sick pay scheme is between 1-2 years

New research1 from Direct Line Life Insurance reveals that Brits are in the dark when it comes to sick pay, with more than 2.5 million workers unaware that they would face a significant salary shortfall if they are unwell and are unable to work.

In fact, many Brits mistakenly assume their employer would continue to pay their full salary if they were off sick, with people believing on average they would receive it for three and a half months. However, the reality is very different, as 43 per cent4 of firms reduce an employee’s wages to statutory sick pay after two weeks of an employee being unable to work through illness. One in six firms (16 per cent) immediately switch to paying statutory sick pay once an employee has been off work for four days.

Employees are entitled to statutory sick pay3 if they are too ill to work and have been off work more than four days in a row. They are eligible to receive it for up to 28 weeks, at a rate of £89.35 a week, less than a fifth of the average UK weekly wage of £5102. However, just one in twenty-five (4 per cent) Brits know how much they would receive in statutory sick pay, and eight per cent have never even heard of statutory sick pay.

However, it is not only salaries people lose out on if they are off sick; one in five (21 per cent) firms that pay bonuses withhold these if an employee has been off work on long term sick leave. More than a third of firms (33 per cent) will pay bonuses based on pro-rata analysis of days worked and 14 per cent will pay a discretionary reduced rate. 

Furthermore, almost a third (30 per cent) of HR professionals said the qualifying period for their company sick pay schemes is between 1 and 2 years. Additionally, 92 per cent of HR professionals say their company would require formal documentation to authorise any period of sickness, and 36 per cent said they would require additional paperwork if the absence is for more unusual reasons. 

Trevor Bush, Head of Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “This research highlights a worrying disconnect between peoples’ 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 in struggling financially if they are unable to work for a long period of time.

“Direct Line offers critical illness cover as an add-on, at an extra cost, when buying life insurance, which would provide some financial security for those diagnosed with one of a number of specific conditions, by paying a tax-free cash lump sum,”

Trevor Bush continues: “With 90 per cent of organisations requiring formal documentation to authorise sick leave, it’s important for people to be able to quickly secure sick notes or medical certificates when they’re unwell. This is why Direct Line has recently partnered with Doctor Care Anywhere, a virtual GP consultation service, so that in the event of non-urgent medical enquiries, customers can consult with a GP quickly and easily, issuing sick notes/medical certificates, prescriptions and referrals within a matter of minutes. This provides policyholders and their families with more convenient appointments, helping them avoid potentially long waits for consultations. 

For more information on the offering, please visit:

For more information on Doctor Care Anywhere please visit:

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

About Doctor Care Anywhere

1 Research carried out by Opinium amongst a nationally representative sample of XX UK adults between 9th to 12th January 2018



Research conducted by Pureprofile amongst a panel of 112 UK HR professionals between 12th and 15th January 2018.

Terms and conditions

  • The Doctor Care Anywhere promotion is only available to customers who take out a Direct Line Term Life Insurance policy between 15th January 2018 and 30th June 2018. Direct Line Life Insurance is provided by Legal & General.
  • Doctor Care Anywhere access is available for four people per policy and valid for 12 months from activation date.
  • After selecting Doctor Care Anywhere you will be presented with a confirmation page and instructions on how to redeem the offer.
  • Towards the end of your trial period, you will be contacted by Doctor Care Anywhere who will offer you the opportunity to continue with their service after the trial period for a fee. It will be your choice as to whether you take up that offer from Doctor Care Anywhere.
  • This promotion is managed by MLP, The Stables, Home Farm, Mere, Knutsford, Cheshire WA16 OPX on behalf of Legal& General.

For further information please contact:

Claire Jarrett

Media Relations Executive

Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 832 411

Email: [email protected]


Katie Ormrod

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

Tel: 0207 282 1023

Email: [email protected]

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, pet and life insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line life insurance policies are underwritten by Legal & General, registered office: One Coleman Street, London EC2R 5AA. Legal & General Assurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under number 117659. You can check the FCA register at or call the FCA on 0800 111 6768.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0800 145 5522 or visiting