Being sick as a freelancer – Are you entitled to sick pay?

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Freelancers get sick too – it’s inevitable. But how do you prepare to deal with being sick? Read on to learn about a few ways you can deal with falling sick as a freelancer and you learn about whether freelancers qualify for sick pay. 

Like everyone else, freelancers get sick too – but unlike everyone else, you cannot simply sign up for sick leave and leave it at that.

As a freelancer, you don’t have anywhere to call in sick, and as a self-employed person, no colleague to pick up on the work.

So what should you do when you get sick? And are you entitled to sick pay?

First, let’s take a look at a few ways you can deal with and/or prepare for when you come down with an illness.

  1. Tips to deal with sickness as a freelancer
    1. Prevention
    2. Planning for sick days before you’re sick
    3. Inform clients
    4. Work through it
  2. Self employed sick pay – Are you entitled?
    1. Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    2. Health Insurance

Tips to deal with sickness as a freelancer

Prevention

As the old saying goes, prevention is indeed better than cure. As a freelancer, your health should be a top priority and this starts by setting up a preventative system in place. There are a few things that are critically important for your future physical and mental wellbeing. 

And so, in order to prioritize your health, start with a few basics. For e.g., eat a balanced and healthy diet.

Additionally, most freelancers spend a majority of their time at their desktops. You should compensate for your job-related lack of exercise with regular exercise and movement. Planned workouts 2 – 3 times a week can go far when it comes to staying healthy.

Another important aspect of maintaining a healthy freelance life is by minimizing stress. Try and maintain a healthy work-life balance so as not to experience burnout as a freelancer.

Planning 

Planning for when you get sick might seem odd but it allows you to layout a system that is ready to deal with an unexpected illness.

Most people don’t plan for when they get sick – it isn’t in our nature to plan for things that don’t often happen. This is why getting a simple cold can be damaging to your business – all because you were not prepared.

So take the time out to prepare a quick plan on how you will deal with any unwelcome illnesses. Perhaps having a more flexible schedule will give you a few extra days on the off chance you do fall sick. And if not, you end up completing your work ahead of schedule!

Portfolio Dragos Muntean

Inform Clients

How you manage your clients is an important part of dealing with your illness. Inform your customers about your illness at a good time.

In the event of a cold or flu, many customers understand and are ready to adjust the deadline backward. The only important thing is that you let them know in good time instead of simply informing them on the day of the deadline.

In the event of a long, chronic illness, work out how best to move forward. Would it be in the client’s best interest to hire someone else? In this case, offer your customers an alternative. Refer them to another self-employed or freelancer who can continue your project.

Additionally, consider hiring support to help you through. Set up a virtual assistant who can handle customer inquiries for you via phone and email. This way your existing customers or potential new customers get feedback quickly and know when they can count on you again.

Work Through It

Can you work through your illness? A common cold does not necessarily need to cut off your workflow.

If you find yourself in a worst-case scenario where you absolutely have to do the work even though you’re sick and cannot afford outside help or a deadline extension, you might have to just clench your teeth and work through urgent work

The emphasis lies on urgent – do only the work that cannot be avoided in any way. But make sure to take lots of breaks to help your body recover.

And once you’re done with the task and have met your deadline, think about taking some time off. Your body needs to recover without the stress from work.

Self-employed sick pay – Are you entitled?

“I am self-employed, can I get sick pay?” – this is a common concern shared among several freelancers.

The answer depends on the insurance that the freelancer has as well as the options available in the country where they live.

There are a few different self-employed sickness insurance options you can consider when it comes to sickness benefits for self-employed.

Some (private) health insurance companies offer so-called daily benefits for self-employed in the event of an unexpected illness. Generally, freelancers need to prove that they cannot do their job with a medical certificate.

The Künstlersozialkasse in Germany, e.g., is health insurance for freelancers in the arts and journalism.

Alternatively, other public health insurance offers something called electoral tariffs. These allow for freelancers to receive their sick pay as early as the 15th day. You’ll need to figure out what insurance works best for you taking into account your own health and workload.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for self-employed

In other countries, such as the UK, for e.g., the self-employed cannot claim sick pay since there is no employer to claim it from. Instead, freelancers who are unable to work may qualify for the ESA program, i.e., Employment and Support Allowance.

It’s important to note that ESA isn’t statutory sick pay.

In order to qualify for the ESA program in the UK, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be under the state pension age.
  • Have a disability or health condition that affects how much you can work.
  • Not currently claiming statutory sick pay or statutory maternity pay through an employer.
  • Not currently claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance (JSA).
  • Have paid enough National Insurance contributions in the last two to three years – National Insurance credits also count towards this.

There are three different types of ESA that self-employed people could apply for:

  • ‘New style’ ESA
  • Contribution-based ESA
  • Income-related ESA

If you need to make a claim or find more about the types of ESA, contact the JobcenterPlus or fill the claim form available on gov.uk.

If the claim is successful, you will receive payment from the government every two weeks.

Health Insurance for Freelancers

Your options for health insurance that covers sick pay is dependent on where you live. Different countries have different options and coverage for freelancers so make sure to look around and find the best option that works for you and your business. 

If you’re a freelancer that has not considered health, daily allowance, or disability insurance before this, now is a great time to do so. Check out our piece on the types of freelance insurances that work best for you.

How do you handle illness as a freelancer? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

2 comments

  • Excelente reportaje Natalia , muy propicio aunque en verdad no se si aplica en Venezuela … ni te imaginas como me agradaria trabajar de freelancer , pero eso aqui es bien dificil por no decir imposible … , te felicito me encanto lo que escribistes y la informacion tan util .
    Saludos

    • Me alegra que te haya resultado interesante y útil, Dainu.

      Somos conscientes de que el mundo freelance puede ser muy diferente según los países. Pero cualquiera tiene la oportunidad de emprender un negocio por su cuenta.

      De hecho, en nuestro directorio verás que contamos con más de 1.000 Freelancers en Venezuela.

      Te recomiendo que te pongas en contacto con freelancers de allí a los que ya les vaya bien y le pidas consejos sobre como empezaron, que aprendieron y cambiarían, etc. Seguro que encuentras profesionales maravillosos dispuestos a ayudarte.

      Si de verdad te gustaría empezar tu propio negocio, que nadie te pare 💪

By Natalia Campana

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