Cost of living alert: One million sick workers unable to claim £117 a week boost due to low wages

Cost of living alert: One million sick workers unable to claim £117 a week boost due to low wages
Patrick O'Donnell

By Patrick O'Donnell

Published: 21/06/2024

- 00:01

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is reserved for those who have to take leave from work due to illness but many are not able to access this support

Experts are warning that more than one million workers in the UK are unable to claim an extra £117 a week in financial support due to low wages amid the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Research carried out by The Work Foundation is sounding the alarm found that many Britons are being forced to work despite being ill due to failing to meet Statutory Sick Pay's (SSP) earnings threshold.

The leading think tank claims that nearly two thirds of the 1.15 million UK workers who currently unable to meet this £123 per week threshold are women.

One-third of workers dealing with this issue are disabled people, according to the Work Foundation.

In a survey of over 1,000 senior business leaders, commissioned by the organisation, discovered that nearly half do not provide employees more than the minimum level of SSP.

Based on the Work Foundation's latest report, the benefit only replaces than a fifth of a worker's average weekly earnings.

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Sick workers are missing out on vital support due to low wages

Two in five respondents to the survey cited financial constraints were preventing their business rom providing enhanced sick pay.

Under SSP, workers can get £116.75 per week if they are too ill to work which is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.

In order to be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay, Britons must be classed as an employee and do at least some work for their employer.

Notably, workers need to bring in at least £123 every week to be able to receive this financial support, as well as be ill for more than three days in a row.

Alice Martin, head of research at the Work Foundation, said: "The truth is our workforce is getting sicker and yet not everyone gets the time off they need to live healthy lives.

“The current low rate of sick pay compels some people to work while they are unwell to make ends meet.

"This risks compounding existing health conditions and can lead to people dropping out of the labour market altogether.

“We currently have a record 2.83 million people economically inactive in the UK due to long-term health issues.

“Our previous research suggests many of these people want to work but aren’t given the necessary support to do so.”


Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (left) and deputy Labour Party leader Angela Rayner with Labour candidate Alistair Strathern (centre) during a visit to Shefford in the constituency of Mid Bedfordshire

Labour has pledged to improve rules around sick pay


Ahead of voters heading to the polls on July 4, the think tank is lobbying on the next Government to carry out a drastic overhaul statutory leave policies.

This would be done through a recommended Employment Bill within the first 100 days in office and to reform SSP by removing the lower earnings limit.

The Labour Party, which is widely expected to win the next General Election, cited changing sick pay rules in its manifesto as part of its wider "New Deal for Working People".

Sir Keir Starmer's party stated: "This [deal] will include banning exploitative zero hours contracts; ending fire and rehire; and introducing basic rights from day one to parental leave, sick pay, and protection from unfair dismissal.

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