Responding to wide-ranging criticism of its Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rates – one of the lowest in Europe – and their role in discouraging low-paid workers from self-isolating when they test positive for Covid-19, the government has increased SSP by a derisory 50p a week.
The rate has been raised from £95.85 to £96.35 a week, remaining significantly below the National Minimum Wage.
“Today’s miserly increase will do nothing to help people who get Covid,” Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, said.
“No one should be plunged into hardship if they need to self-isolate,” she added, warning that many low paid workers will feel forced to continue working when they are ill.
Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, also spoke out against the government’s policy, saying: “Unless the government addresses the scandalously low level of sick pay provision in this country, any scheme to reopen the economy that rests on isolation but without income is half-baked and will fail.”
The TUC also highlighted that around two million workers do not even qualify for SSP because they fall below the Lower Earnings Threshold. These people risk losing all of their income if they fall ill or are required to self-isolate.