Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sick of no sick pay

Unless you happen to be an entirely self-sufficient hermit living in the remotest cave in the remotest corner of the remotest island of the most remote group of islands off of Orkney, one way or another the financial crisis will have had some impact on your life. All across Britain belts are being tightened. And in some cases belts are being sold for money to buy food. These are worrying times for us all. One thing that concerns me as a freelancer is I don’t get paid for time off sick. For the first 3 months of this year I wasn’t able to work. I managed a couple of days here and there, but I wasn’t earning nearly enough to cover my mortgage and other outgoings. Fortunately I had my UC fund. As a self-employed person with an illness that can prevent me from working, I figured a while back that it would make sense to always have a few quid in the bank for a rainy day. Or in my case about 90 shitty days. So I’ve squirreled away a pot of money in the bank (earning bugger all interest these days, by the way) just to cover my sick periods. I need to have that security there. It means that when I go in for my next operation later in the year I don’t have to worry about money, and I can just concentrate on my recovery. I won’t need to rush back to work before I’m ready either. A small part of me resents having to have a UC fund at all, but that’s just the way it is. As long as I have UC I’ll have a UC fund. What is hard to stomach is the loss of earnings. I recently had to give my accountants all my tax gubbins for the year and I’d estimate my annual take home is down by about 20%. When you start to count the cost like that you realise that ulcerative colitis doesn’t just spread through your colon, it spreads through your whole life.

Below is a chart, which illustrates the effect UC had on my earnings over the last year. It’s awfully vulgar talking about money, so I’ve used kittens to represent my pay. As you can see January, February and March were lean months kitten-wise.