From the end of March 2022, workers suffering from the coronavirus will have to wait until their fourth day of sickness before they can get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
The Government’s decision to end ‘day one’ sick pay entitlement for those with the virus will hit workers across the economy – with 7.8 million people relying on SSP when they fall ill.
The UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth just £96.35 per week. It is only available to employees earning £120 per week or more – meaning two million workers, mostly women, do not qualify.
TUC research has found that this leaves around a third of workers – over 10 million people – with sick pay that is too low to meet basic living costs, or with no sick pay at all.
Removing the lower earnings limit, which prevents those on low pay accessing statutory sick pay, would cost employers a maximum of £150m a year. And it would cost the government less than one per cent of the test and trace scheme to support employers with these costs.
In July this year, the government rowed back on its decision to remove the lower earnings limit – in response the TUC accused ministers of “abandoning low-paid workers at the worst possible time”.
The government introduced a temporary scheme to assist people who face hardship if required to self-isolate.
However, TUC research has found that two-thirds of applications (64%) are rejected – in part because the funding is too low, and many workers are not aware of it.
The TUC is calling on the government to:
• Extend statutory sick pay protection to every worker by removing the lower earnings limit.
• Increase statutory sick pay to at least the value of the real Living Wage – (£346 per week)
UK workers face worst real-terms sick pay in nearly two decades as Covid-19 cases surge – new TUC analysis – TUC