Full Sick Pay Now!
Currently around two million workers, mostly women, are excluded from receiving SSP because they earn below the lower earnings threshold of £120 per week. Around one-third of workers on zero hours contracts do not meet this threshold. The self-employed are also excluded from receiving statutory sick pay.
According to TUC figures, UK SSP is equivalent to just 29% of average pay. This compares unfavourably to comparable schemes in the rest of Europe, where sick pay covers 100% of average pay in Germany, 93% in Belgium, 64% in Sweden, 56% in the Netherlands and 42% in Spain.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the public health benefits of symptomatic workers self-isolating to avoid spreading the virus. Those workers who are not entitled to SSP or who cannot survive on £95 per week are more likely to go into work when ill because they cannot afford not to (and there have been several documented cases of workers doing so.
Some employers make provision in employment contracts to provide sick pay to their workers which is above SSP levels and may include a short period on 100% pay. However, these payments are often time-limited. Many employers do not even make this limited provision – and many workers working for sub-contractors or agencies are excluded from contractual sick pay completely. In all these cases, workers have to rely on SSP.
We are calling for the Government to legislate for full rights to at least 6 weeks of contractual sick pay for all workers from day one paid at 100% of wages. The scheme would be funded by employers – reducing the burden on taxpayers for those first six weeks. After this initial 6 weeks, SSP would kick back in.
The #FullSickPayNow campaign will follow the successful path that changed the debate around low pay, zero hours contracts and young people being paid less simply for being young. Our Zoom launch on 9th September was a great success followed closely by a motion to TUC congress. The campaign will now engage with the thousands of activists signed up to DL-Organise, with Trades Councils, Trade Unions and CLPs to demand better for the many in every community and workplace.