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Working hours: benefits rules - Calculating work hours: Sick Leave

If you are doing paid work for an employer or are self-employed but on a low income, you may still qualify for certain welfare benefits. Benefit entitlement can depend on how many hours of paid work you do per week.

Calculating work hours: Sick Leave

Income Support or Employment and Support Allowance

You are not treated as being in full time paid work - even if you are a full time worker under your employment contract - if you are absent from work because you are sick.

For Working Tax Credit you could count as being in paid work so you should get advice on which benefit you would be better off claiming. Use our Find an Adviser tool.

Working Tax Credit

If you are within the first 28 weeks of a period of sick leave from work, and are receiving a sickness benefit such as Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) , you continue to be classed as working the same number of hours you were working immediately before the period of sick leave began.

If you are self-employed and have been off work for less than 28 weeks due to sickness, like an employee you can continue to be classed as working the same number of hours you were working immediately before the leave began.

If you don't return to work at the end of your sick leave, you will no longer count as being in paid work.


Reviewed: September 2021

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