For the purposes of this post, I’m taking the term ‘freelance’ in its broadest form. Many people who are on either short fixed-term contracts, or non-permanent PAYE contracts tend to regard themselves as ‘freelancers’.
People who are ‘self-employed’ have few of the benefits of people who are in any kind of PAYE relationship – more details of the ‘safety net’ for the self employed can be seen here on the Turn2Us website.
People who work as PAYE employees for the kind of employers that rely on freelance work are less likely to get anything other than Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
This is currently £96.35 and is paid for the first 28 weeks of the illness in question. Employers generally can’t claim this back from the government (there are Covid-spefici exceptions, and they could before 2014 but there may be more to research here if anyone is looking for a detailed history of this issue.)
By contrast, people who work for employers who tend towards permanent employment – where there is an investment in skills and motivation – tend towards paying an enhanced sick pay. This would generally be paid at the same rate, or rate close to that paid for a normal working day.
Established employers within the film and TV sector will have policies whereby they offer full pay for a period of time (3 or 6 months) and then half-pay for the following few months (2 or 3 months) during any 12 month period. This entitlement will be inclusive of SSP and other allowances (London Weighting, for example).
In many cases, the company will also have an insurance policy in place that will take over for those who are still ill (and by definition, such an illness is likely to be a prolonged and serious one).
This shortfall is one of the many aspects of the freelance deal that is not in the interests of the workers concerned.