Do Locum Doctors Get Sick Pay?
Locum F3 doctors often mistakenly think that by leaving contracted employment, they lose their employee rights like sick pay, maternity or paternity leave, rest breaks, and annual leave. However, this is not necessarily true. Is important to understand your contract and your rights, and to know what you are entitled to or you may miss out on money and other benefits.
In this article we will focus on locum doctor rights to Sick Pay. We will cover whether a locum doctors is entitled to two types of sick pay: 1. Full pay for missed work due to illness, and 2. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which is a fixed amount to cover prolonged periods of illness.
You can learn more about employment rights in these articles:
✅ Understanding your rights as a locum doctor
✅ 23 biggest myths for locum doctors
✅ Salary comparison: GPST1 vs F3 locum doctor
🔍 Employment Rights: Sick Pay
Like any other person who works, locum doctors may at times find themselves unexpectedly unwell and unable to work. This can be stressful for someone who relies on ad-hoc work for their income.
Locum doctors therefore need to know what they would be entitled to, and how to best protect themselves, if they have to call in sick, cancel shifts, or take prolonged periods of time off work.
🩺 Locum work through an Agency or Staff Bank
Usually, agency workers are not entitled to full pay for missed work due to illness but it is worth checking the terms and conditions for your agency work before assuming the worst. If your agency has arranged a long-term locum post that has some kind of contract, there may be a clause about sick pay.
Staff bank locum doctors generally do not get paid for cancelled work even if they are sick. We have heard of some cases where doctors are paid in advance for their work, and therefore have still been paid for shifts they could not fill when they were unwell, however there is a chance the Trust may adjust future payslips to reflect the missed work so it is worth speaking to the Trust HR about this if it happens to you.
Both Agency or Staff Bank locum doctors may be entitled to up to 28 weeks of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they meet the following eligibility criteria:
✅ They are classed as an employee, and have done some work for your employer.
✅ They earn an average of at least £123 per week
✅ They have been ill for at least 4 days in a row (including non-working days).
You may need to provide a sick note or certificate as evidence of your inability to return to work.
Depending on the amount of work the agency or locum doctor does for a trust, they may qualify for NHS sick pay scheme (if their locum work counts as continuous NHS service) though this is unlikely and you would need to confirm this with your Trust HR before relying on this option.
🩺 Locum work as a sole-trader
If you are working as a sole trader, then you are not classed as an employee, but a ‘worker’, and therefore you are not entitled to SSP (because the first requirement to be eligible is that you are classed as an employee).
Instead, if you fell ill you may need to either to accept the time off work as unpaid, or consider claiming benefits allowance. You may also qualify for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is is money for people who have limited capability for work because of their sickness or disability but do not get SSP. (Whether or not you would qualify for ESA depends on the value of the national insurance contributions you made while working as a self-employed person).
💷 Financial Planning
In all cases, it is highly recommended that locum doctors consider their finances carefully, and make provision for emergencies such as the inability to work due to illness. Check out this article If you need help planning your finances as a locum doctor.
If you have dependents or financial responsibilities like a mortgage, consider getting income protection insurance which can help support you in the event that you are unable to work for a prolonged period of time. Our friends at Medics Money have an excellent article about income protection insurance. You can read it here.
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may or may not qualify for a variety of payments in the event that you have to cancel work due to sickness when working as a locum doctor.
If you are employed, (even on a zero hours contract with a Staff Bank or through an Agency) then you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the event that you have to cancel work due to illness.
If you are working as a locum doctor, it is worth planning your finances to protect yourself in the event that you become too unwell to work for a prolonged period of time. You can do this through income protection insurance if you do not qualify for the NHS sick pay scheme.
If you are unsure about your entitlements, or feel you have been given a wrong response by the Trust, speak to your BMA representative who may be able to provide you with additional support and advice.
This article is part of a wider series of comprehensive guides and information to help doctors ensure their F3 year is a success. We cover everything from initial planning, options for moving abroad, help with finding work, and tips for making the most of the experience.
Click here to visit our F3 Resource Hub to explore the full list of guides and articles.
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