Most of us need to work to pay the bills. The mortgage, credit cards, electric, phone, water, council tax and the rest. Somehow, despite promises made about how computers would give us all lots of leisure, we seem to be working harder and longer hours, while there are no jobs for life. The bills don't stop arriving - even if we are very sick.
Without a regular income, most of us would struggle to get by. If you are ill for a short period, you may be able to cope by dipping into your savings. Employers may pay some sick pay, but it will not be as much as you normally get. If you are self-employed, then no work means no income. Few of us could cope with being off work for 6 or 9 months.
If a serious illness, medical condition, or accident befalls you, then you may be unable to work for the rest of your life.
Many people see the need for, and buy life insurance. Perhaps the inevitably of death has an effect. Between when you start work and when you retire, you are much more likely to be off work for 6 months or more, than die.
You have a one in seven chance of being off work for 6 months due to illness or accident, during your working life. In an age of spin, you may think these are scare statistics from insurance companies. They are not; they are official government figures from the Department of Work and Pensions. Although health generally has improved, and less of us do hard manual labour, this has been countered by the increased speed of work and effect of stress. So that figure of one in seven has remained constant for the last 20 years.
Thankfully, medical advances do mean that some conditions, which were once incurable, can be cured or put into remission, enabling people to return to work. This may be a full return, or on a part time or lower level of work. You may be lucky and return to work after a few months or years, but that period without normal income can ruin your finances.
You may expect the state to support you. You may get a small amount of benefit, but may have to go through unpleasant interviews, medical tests and a review of your finances. Sadly, with many fraudulent claimants, the state treats everyone claiming benefit with great suspicion, guilty until proven innocent.
If you are a specialist tradesperson, or professional, a serious injury may mean that you can work, but not in the profession or type of occupation you were used to. Politicians may dislike the blunt truth, but in the modern world, the state expects you to take any form of work on offer. They may even force you to go on training programmes, before they decide whether or not to give you a handout.
By law, an employer must pay most employees statutory sick pay for up to 28 weeks. This will almost certainly be a lot less than your full earnings. Few pay for longer. If it is obvious you can never return to work, they may stop paying and terminate your employment. Not all employers pay willingly.
If you are an employee, check your employment contract to see whether your company automatically pays you if you are off sick for a few weeks or a few months.
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