77% cannot afford to live on statutory sick pay

Blake Mike - PMI

More than three-quarters (77%) of employee respondents would not be able to afford to maintain a living on statutory sick pay if their income stopped tomorrow, according to research by PMI Health Group.

Its research, which surveyed more than 600 UK employees in full or part-time work, found that nearly half (46%) of respondents said their employers do not pay their salary in full if they are off work for three months or more through sickness or injury.

This follows a change in legislation in April, which means employers are no longer able to claim back statutory sick pay that has been paid to staff.

Organisations are only able to reclaim statutory sick pay under certain circumstances, such as when a high proportion of employees are off sick at the same time.

Mike Blake (pictured), director at PMI Health Group, said: “The study highlights a protection gap in the UK, as half of all workers do not have a sufficient level of protection in the event of long-term illness.

“There is an opportunity for organisations to position themselves as responsible, desirable employers by offering their staff extra cover.

Income protection, for example, can be tied into the contract of employment to ensure staff are guaranteed financial stability.

“And now that employers can’t claim back the cost of statutory sick pay, it’s another cost they have to swallow.

“Consequently, more employers may look to transfer the risk to the insurer so they have a certainty over what absence will cost them each year.

“This, in turn, could see a rise in policies such as sick pay insurance, which allows the employer to insure anything from the statutory amount to full salary. Although employers will still foot the bill for sick pay, they are provided with certainty over what absence will cost each year.”