UK workers in precarious position as more than 10 million overestimate value of Statutory Sick Pay – The Exeter

UK workers in precarious position as more than 10 million overestimate value of Statutory Sick Pay – The Exeter
UK workers in precarious position as more than 10 million overestimate value of Statutory Sick Pay – The Exeter

Jamie page


Head of Protection Distribution

Nearly one in three UK workers (32%) overestimate the value of Statutory Sick Pay – which currently stands at £109.40 per week, according to health and protection provider The Exeter.

Based on data from the Office of National Statistics which shows there are more than 30 million patrolled workers in the UK, this percentage equates to over ten million workers miscalculating the amount of Government support they could receive if they became ill and were unable to work1.

The Exeter’s findings, published in its Health & Financial Fears Report 2023, shows that more UK workers overestimate the value of Statutory Sick Pay than those who know the amount of support they would receive (27%). A smaller proportion of workers (8%) believe they will receive more than double the actual amount.

The report also reveals that more than one in six (18%) do not know whether they are entitled to receive employer sick pay at all. This was also true in the private sector, where 13% of UK workers are not aware of their exact sick pay entitlements.

Employer sick pay arrangements leave UK workers at risk

According to the report, almost one in five (19%) workers are not entitled to any employer sick pay, and almost half (49%) would receive support for no longer than three months. Notably, more women (20%) than men (18%) reported that they did not receive any employer sick pay, with women (17%) far likelier than men (9%) to not know their personal sick pay arrangements.

Misconceptions about the costs of insurance

Despite the lack of support and knowledge around Government and employer sick pay in the event of illness or injury, UK workers were also largely unaware of the true cost of insurance products such as income protection.

When asked to estimate the monthly cost of an income protection policy, the average guessed by UK workers was £35.20 per month, higher than the actual average of £24 for a two-year limited benefit term, the most popular product sold in 2022.

With only 6% of all UK workers surveyed saying that income protection was unimportant –many more working Britons may purchase a policy if the misconceptions about the cost of cover can be overcome.

Jamie Page, Head of Protection Distribution at The Exeter commented:

“It's worrying that so many workers either overestimate the value of Statutory Sick Pay or are unsure whether they are entitled to it at all. In the event of a long-term illness, workers may find themselves dependent on a highly reduced income or without a financial safety net at all. This can create added stress and potential hardship for themselves and their families as they burn through their hard-earned savings – if they are fortunate enough to have money set aside.

Although workers are not always clear on its cost, they do evidently recognise the value of income protection insurance. However, the first step in covering any gap in sick pay provision is knowing how much you currently would receive, and for how long. From there, a conversation with an independent financial adviser is always the best way to understand the wider options available to improve your financial security.”

Andrew Wibberley, co-chair at the Income Protection Task Force (IPTF) added:

“This new research highlights the opportunity to start a conversation that helps a customer understand the reality of their current financial situation and how they can strengthen it. One suggestion from this years’ Income Protection Awareness Week, was not to scare potential customers by focussing on the level of benefits available to them, but rather give the good news that they do at least have something.

By making customers aware of what’s available and how they could get to a level of income that they will likely need should they be unable to work due to illness or injury, we can have a positive conversation rather than simply highlighting a gap in their understanding or making them feel like the problem is too big to solve.”

The full report can be viewed here.


Notes to Editors

1. ONS, Number of people in employment (aged 16 and over, seasonally adjusted), August 2023 www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes
2. Swiss Re Term and Health Watch 2023.


Data in this report was gathered as part of The Exeter's Health and Financial Fears of UK Workers 2023 research, which surveyed 2,000 employed adults aged over 18 in the UK between the 1st and 5th June 2023. For some charts, respondents who replied, ‘Don’t know', 'None of the above' or ‘Prefer not to say’ have been removed to aid clarity, however these percentages are still factored into the final figures.

PR Contact

Tom Stewart-Walvin, Rostrum
T: +44 (0)7855 689 302
E: theexeter@rostrum.agency

About The Exeter

The Exeter is a leading protection and healthcare insurer who have been supporting UK families in the event of ill health or injury since 1888.

Formerly known as the Exeter Friendly Society and Pioneer Friendly Society, The Exeter is a mutual friendly society. This means it’s owned by members and run for their benefit, rather than shareholders.

The Exeter is a trading name of Exeter Friendly Society Limited, which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Register number 205309) and is incorporated under the Friendly Societies Act 1992 Register No. 91F with its registered office at Lakeside House, Emperor Way, Exeter, England EX1 3FD.