It would cost the UK government just 1% of the budget dedicated just to the test and trace programme to give all employees the right to receive sick pay when they are off work ill, the TUC has said.
Analysis by the body found that removing the Lower Earnings Threshold – which prevents low income workers from receiving Statutory Sick Pay, would be a negligble cost to the government and employers but potentially life-changing to a substantial proportion of the workforce, including 788,000 key workers.
What’s more, raising the level of Statutory Sick Pay from the derisory £96 per week to the Real living wage would cost just £2 a week per employee.
Of those defined by the government as ‘key workers’ during the pandemic, one in 12 are excluded from the Statutory Sick Pay, including 27% of cleaners, 26% of retail workers, 9% of teaching assistants and 6% of care workers.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Nobody should have to choose between going into work if they’re sick or should be self-isolating, or doing the right thing by staying home, but facing hardship as a result. But that’s the choice facing many key workers who kept the country going during the pandemic.”
“The cost of fixing the UK’s broken sick pay system is small compared to other public health measures like test and trace. Ministers must urgently make every worker eligible for statutory sick pay. And it should be worth at least as much as the real Living Wage,” she added.