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1 in 10 women don’t earn enough to qualify for sick pay, TUC analysis reveals

  • 1.4 million women employees missing out on basic protection
  • Those in insecure work worst affected
  • TUC calls for earning threshold to be scrapped

1 in 10 women workers don’t earn enough to qualify for statutory sick pay, according to new TUC analysis published today (Friday).

The analysis shows that 1.4 million women employees earn less than £118 a week – the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay.

As a result they can’t claim the protection if they fall ill.

The analysis also reveals that:

  • Women account for more than two-thirds (69%) of the 2 million UK workers currently ineligible for statutory sick pay.
  • People in insecure work are even more likely to miss out. Nearly a quarter (23%) of zero-hours workers don’t earn enough to get the protection.

The TUC says that women are most at risk of not qualifying for statutory sick pay because they are more likely to be stuck in low-paid and insecure work. And because women are more likely to work part time due to caring responsibilities.

The TUC is calling for the minimum earning threshold to be scrapped.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“No one should worry about falling into debt or struggling to pay their bills when they’re ill.

“It’s not right that women and insecure workers are most likely to miss out on sick pay – just because they are low earners.

“The government needs to get on and protect every worker if they fall sick.”

Editors note

- The government consultation on statutory sick pay is open until 7 October. The TUC is urging an end to the arbitrary minimum earning threshold, which hits women hardest.

- The TUC is a part of the Flex for All campaign. You can read more about the campaign here:

It asks for:

  • A change in the law so that employers must publish flexible working options in job adverts, or justify why the job can’t be done flexibly
  • A right for successful candidates to take up the advertised flexibility from day one
  • All workers to get the right to request flexible working at any stage in their employment.

- Working people can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they’re too ill to work. It’s paid by the employer for up to 28 weeks. Workers need to have been off work sick for 4 or more days in a row to receive the payment.

- ONS data from 2018 shows that women and young people are more likely to be on zero-hours contracts:

- ONS data shows that 41% of women in employment are part-time compared to 13% of men:

- Table breaking down workers missing out on SSP (Labour Force Survey, Q1 2019)


Employees earning below £118 per week

in employment (excluding self-employed)















If the earnings threshold for SSP were removed women would be the main beneficiaries:  


Proportion who would benefit from removal of qualifying earnings rule for SSP






- Data on zero-hours workers is from ONS 2018 Q4 (this is the latest data available which shows the incomes of workers on zero hours contracts) 

Total number of zero-hours workers


Number of zero-hours workers below threshold


Proportion of zero-hours workers below threshold



- The self-employed are not entitled to statutory sick pay.

- The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together more than 5.6 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

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