Sick pay is too low for around one-third of staff

33% of employers have reviewed their sick pay policy due to Covid-19Around one-third of UK workers have sick pay that is too low to meet basic living costs, or no protection at all, according to research.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) conducted an online survey of more than 2,000 workers earlier this year that showed many didn’t qualify for statutory sick pay, which is £96.35 per week.

To become eligible for this payment, you must be classed as an employee or agency worker, earn at least £120 per week and be ill or self-isolating for four days in a row.

However many employees earn below the threshold, especially those hired for the festive season. They are at risk of having to self-isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) yet many will receive no sick pay if they do.

According to the TUC research, 238,000 hospitality workers, which is 16% of the sector’s workforce, are at risk as well as 336,000 retail staff (10%) and 73,000 arts and entertainment employees (12%).

Additionally, the union claimed that almost two-thirds of applications (64%) to a temporary scheme set up by the UK government to assist people who face hardship if required to self-isolate were rejected.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady commented that every worker should have the security of sick pay if they fall ill or need to isolate, with many getting no protection at all.

“Our sick pay system is broken, no one should be left to choose between doing the right thing and putting food on the table,” she said.

“We all risk having our Christmas ruined because our sick pay system doesn’t do what’s needed to stop the virus spreading. Ministers must extend sick pay protection to every worker, and it should worth at least the same as the living wage to make sure people can afford to isolate.”