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Sick pay from day one is not enough - we need sick pay for all

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Changing the rules so statutory sick pay kicks in from day one instead of day four won't help the 2 million people who don't earn enough to qualify

The arrival of Coronavirus in the UK has exposed the inequality of sick pay in this country.

Right now, almost 2 million working people don’t get earn enough to qualify for statutory sick pay.

This includes 1 in 10 women in work and almost 300,000 people on zero-hours contracts.

And at just £94.25 a week, many of those who do quality will still struggle to make ends meet.

Until today, another issue was that SSP didn’t kick in until the fourth consecutive day of illness.

But during this afternoon’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson announced that workers will get statutory sick pay from the first day off work, not the fourth, to help contain Coronavirus.

That’s a big win for trade union campaigning, but it’s not enough to fix our unequal sick pay system.

Because as we set out yesterday, workers who have to self-isolate will still be penalised for doing the right thing and following government health advice to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

No one should worry about making ends meet at a time like this.

That’s why the TUC has been campaigning for everyone to get sick pay from day one, no matter what they earn.

We’re calling on the government to introduce emergency legislation that:

  • Gives every worker the right to statutory sick pay from the first day of absence
  • Scraps the minimum earnings threshold for statutory sick pay
  • Increases the weekly level of sick pay
  • Ensures that sick pay is paid to workers having to self-isolate
  • Provides funds to ensure employers can afford to pay sick pay and additional support to those who miss out

Sign the petition calling for sick pay for every worker from day one.

What did the Prime Minister announce today?

The Prime Minister has announced limited steps to tackle problem one, announcing that workers will get sick pay from the first day they’re off work.

We don’t yet know the detail of the proposal, and whether it will apply only in cases of Coronavirus.

But it’s a welcome recognition that people can’t spend three days unpaid – and a big win for union campaigning.

Nearly two million people are still missing out

Today’s announcement does nothing to help the nearly two million people who don’t qualify for sick pay because they don’t earn enough.

That’s particularly likely to affect insecure workers. For example, a third of those on zero-hours contracts don’t earn enough to get sick pay.

The Prime Minister said that these workers should claim Universal Credit.

But that’s clearly not going to work as there is a minimum of a five week wait, and the advance payment you can get is a loan – it has to be paid back.

The government needs to scrap the earnings threshold for sick pay so that no-one misses out.

The level of sick pay is too low

The current weekly rate of sick pay is just £94.25.

According to our figures, someone on an average wage would miss out on hundreds of pounds if asked to self-isolate for a fortnight.

That’s why we need an urgent increase in the level of statutory sick pay, which should at least match the value of the real Living Wage.

Union campaigning makes a difference

Unions have been united in their campaign for better sick pay.

We’ve forced government to act – but there’s much more to do.

Sign the petition now

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