Just under half (48%) of employees can expect to receive their normal salary if they have to take sick leave, according to a survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
The survey of 1,000 employees found that one in four (24%) would receive statutory sick pay, while 7% would have to take unpaid leave, as they are not eligible for statutory sick pay, and 3% would have to take time out of their annual leave allowances.
Among those individuals set to receive either statutory or no sick pay, 23% said that they would have difficulties in paying bills or buying food if they had to take a week off due to the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak; this would rise to 33% for a two-week period of absence.
Peter Cheese, chief executive at the CIPD, said: “There is a real risk that many people will fall into genuine financial hardship as a result of the Coronavirus unless the government takes further action to reform statutory sick pay to support all workers during this critical time.
“The government should ensure workers can access sick pay as easily and quickly as possible. The new measures announced in [the Budget 2020] go some way towards recognising the financial struggle that businesses and individuals face. However, we’re concerned that payments to individuals will be delayed while these new measures are being set up. Our poll showed that people stand to suffer financial hardship in just a matter of days.
“Any delays in the system risk people feeling compelled to go into work when unwell and risk spreading the infection. The government must do more to contain this risk by increasing statutory sick pay and extending its eligibility – which is payable from day one of absence – to all workers.
“Employers must place the health and wellbeing of staff at the heart of their contingency planning and response. Employees need to be clear on how they will be supported during this critical time. The CIPD recommends that businesses are as supportive with their pay and sick leave policies as possible, both to support staff health and wellbeing, and to minimise any impact on the business. By managing the risk at work, businesses can help to protect the health not just of their employees but of their households and communities more broadly.”