Failure to change sick pay an ‘absolute scandal’, says trade union body
The UK Government has been accused of putting people at risk after it announced sick pay would remain unchanged.
The trade union body STUC said it was an “absolute scandal” payments would not be increased despite the pandemic.
It warned inadequate support would prevent workers from being able to self-isolate, putting more people at risk from COVID-19.
But a UK Government consultation concluded that “now is not the right time” to make changes to the system.
Workers in the UK are currently untiled to £96.35 per week of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for up to 28 weeks.
This rate is among the lowest in Europe.
The government had said it would consider expanding eligibility to ensure more workers received SSP, as well as making the system “more flexible, simple and responsive”.
But it has now confirmed no changes will be made following consultation.
It said: “The consultation posed several important questions on the future of SSP which require further consideration. Government maintains that SSP provides an important link between the employee and employer but that now is not the right time to introduce changes to the sick pay system.”
STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said the prospect of people not being able to self-isolate for financial reasons “should worry us all”.
She added: “For workers to properly follow the current guidance, support must be there for them to do so without falling into debt, missing rent payments or being unable to provide for themselves and their dependants.
“For many part time and insecure workers, sick pay isn’t even available to them. The UK Government is putting us all at risk by not tackling this glaring issue.”
The SNP also criticised the decision.
David Linden MP said: “We know there are a worrying number of people who do not fully isolate when they test positive for COVID because of financial pressures and insecure jobs, and this number could rise in the current ‘pingdemic’.
“If we are to ‘live with COVID’ then it is crucial we have a sick pay system fit for current times.”